From our February survey, the second important topic that our readers wanted to learn about was building relationships with college coaches. We are going to divide that topic into two parts. The first part focuses on individual players building relationships with college coaches and next week we will focus on how club and high school coaches can build relationships with their college counterparts.
As always, the most important thing for a player to remember is honesty. If my school is your #1 choice, that’s great but if it is your second/third choice or your “safety” school, that’s OK too. I would prefer to know that up front so I know how much effort and energy I should expend on recruiting you. College coaches are all competitive people and recruiting is a competition. We want to win the recruiting game! And part of that means knowing who we are competing against.
Second, you need to be sure to put yourself “in the game”. As I have said before, D3 coaches are relying largely on players making the initial contact with the school to let them know that they are interested in the school and the soccer program. If you don’t do that, it is hard to start building that relationship.
However, be sure to do your homework. If you don’t have the grades for a specific D3 school, you are wasting your time as well as the coach’s time. Do your homework first. Don’t just send out a blanket email to every school. The emails that I get addressed as “Dear Coach” are the first ones that get deleted. And if you are looking to major in Molecular Biology and my school doesn’t have it, don’t contact me.
Are you good enough to play on my team? How much do you know about my team? Have you seen us play? You need to be honest with yourself and your abilities. It’s OK to try to stretch yourself, but don’t be disappointed or surprised to hear from a coach if he/she tells you that you probably won’t make the team. My team does a timed two mile run at the beginning of preseason and players are expected to get under a certain time to demonstrate their fitness- will you be able to meet the standards that other coaches set?
Next, be sure to keep us updated on your schedule. If you are playing in a tournament, high school game, club game or other competition be sure to let the colleges you are interested in know about it. You can simply send an email or make a phone call. Personally, I prefer email. How often— If you are going to a tourney, send info the week prior to your tourney. For club or high school games, send your entire schedule prior to the season and then only call/email if something changes or if you get into the playoffs or an end of season all-star game.
Lastly, come and visit the campus. And while you are there, meet with the coach. Nothing takes the place of meeting people in person. I admit that I form a lot of opinions about recruits when I meet them in person and that affects my relationship with them and how I recruit them. Be sure to come prepared with questions to ask. And be prepared to answer questions about yourself as well.
The bottom line is this— building a relationship always takes time and effort by both parties. If you are willing to do your part, you will find that most coaches are willing to do their part as well. And you will find that your efforts will be well rewarded.
A great website that is chock-full of info on recruiting is the NCSA website. While NCSA is strongly geared toward D1 and D2 athletes, they have a lot of great info on their site including these posts regarding building relationships with college coaches.
Questions to expect from a college coach—http://www.ncsasports.org/blog/2009/04/21/10-questions-to-expect-from-a-college-coach
Questions to ask a college coach—http://www.ncsasports.org/blog/2009/04/28/5-types-of-questions-you-need-to-ask-a-college-coach
Another site with good info is CaptainU. Check out CaptainU’s blog— http://blog.captainu.com . Read parts I, II and III about putting yourself in a college coach’s shoes.
And don’t forget to take our survey on the right hand side of the home page. Good luck to all players and teams as the weather warms up and we get to start playing outside again! Don’t forget, any questions, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.