How to Know If a College Coach is Interested in You

new college recruiting rulesOnce you have put in the work of identifying schools and reaching out to coaches, your list of potential colleges will takes shape based on what coaches are interested in you. Not every program you contact is going to be interested in you and not all coaches’ interest is the same. It is important you know how to read a coaches behavior to gauge how interested they are. In this article I explain the common ways coaches show interest and how that show of interest lets you know how serious they are.

No Contact Means No Interest

Rule number one, if a school hasn’t contacted you (or your coaches) in any way, don’t assume they are interested. Many people think a program might be interested in them, but isn’t showing interest yet because of the NCAA contact rules. The truth is, if a college program wants you to know they like you, they will find a way and they won’t wait. There are several different types of interest from coaches and they all mean different things.

If a Coach Gives You Their Personal Contact Info, That is a Great Sign

College coaches guard their privacy and while you can often find an email address and phone number for them on the school website, their personal info isn’t listed there. If you are a high value recruit, a coach will give you their personal cell phone number. Additionally, some coaches have a personal email (not listed on the school website) and they might give you that as well, so you can easily contact them. If you are fortunate enough to get this info from a coach, use it and show interest by calling and emailing your with questions.

Personal Letters or Emails Saying “We Know Who You Are”

The next best level of contact to receive from a coach is a letter, email or phone call, letting you know they know who you are and they will be continuing to watch you. This usually means they have you ranked in the second tier of their recruiting class and your offer (whatever it will be) will need to wait until they know what is going to happen with their top ranked recruits. This is a great position to be in (most schools miss out on their top recruits). If you are getting this type of interest, you will have to be patient because your offer is going to be determined by the recruits they have ranked ahead of you.

Impersonal Letters Inviting You to Camps or to Fill Out a Recruiting Questionnaire

The introductory level of interest a college program will show you is sending generic letters inviting you to camps or asking you to fill out a recruiting questionnaire. While this is better than not receiving anything, many athletes take this to mean the program is seriously recruiting them and they don’t follow up properly. Think of this a request for a highlight video or upcoming schedule; these coaches are looking for the info they can use to make a preliminary evaluation and see if they want to follow up and watch you more. It is critical you respond to any school that shows interest and don’t stop until you are getting personalized letters or phone calls.

With the stress and anxiety of the recruiting process, it is easy to over think communications with college coaches. If a program is very interested in you they will show it. If you aren’t getting the “we are in love with you” vibe from a school, they are probably still interested, but you might not be the top recruit. Keep working at it and your options will begin to materialize.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or create a recruiting profile to talk with a scout.


NCAA Rules Loopholes for Contacting Coaches

communicating with college coachesThe NCAA rules around when and how college coaches can contact recruits are very poorly understood by the majority of new recruits and families. The biggest source of confusion is the fact NCAA rules say coaches can’t contact a recruit until Sep 1st of their Junior Year but athletes are routinely committing to and talking to schools well before that. In this article I am going to explain how you can contact coaches before September 1st and why it isn’t an NCAA rules violation.

The Intent of the NCAA Contact Rules

Here is the exact wording the NCAA uses to describe their recruiting rules:

“NCAA member schools have adopted rules to create an equitable recruiting environment that promotes student-athlete well-being. The rules define who may be involved in the recruiting process, when recruiting may occur and the conditions under which recruiting may be conducted. Recruiting rules seek, as much as possible, to control intrusions into the lives of student-athletes.”

The key to the above statement, is to “prevent intrusions into the lives of student-athletes.” The NCAA recruiting rules are written to prohibit when a college coach can contact an athlete but not when they communicate with them. The NCAA considers a college coach calling you a potential “intrusion into your life” but if you initiate the contact, it is not an intrusion.

Coaches Can Talk to You, If You Call Them and They Answer

NCAA rules might prohibit a college coach from calling a sophomore, but, if that sophomore athlete calls the college coach and the coach picks up the phone, they can talk to them about whatever they want *key point coaches can’t return your call if they miss it. This is how college coaches and recruits get around the NCAA contact rules to talk with one another before an athletes junior year. Other ways to get around the contact rules are:

  • College Coaches communicating with your High School or Club Team Coach
  • Athletes making unofficial visits and talking to the coach on campus
  • Recruits attending camps on campus and talking with the coach

It Is Not as Easy as Making a Phone Call

Even though you might not have known about this loophole for contacting coaches, thousands of athletes do and coaches are inundated by emails and phone calls. Below I share a process for how you can break through the noise and get their attention.

  • Send a coach your resume/online recruiting profile and highlight/skills video – It is best to introduce yourself to a coach through an email or online profile where they can make their initial evaluation. The critical information you need to include is video, contact info for your coach(s) and a schedule of where you will be competing.
  • Get your coach involved and ask them to follow up with coaches for you – Because a college coach can’t respond to your email and they won’t just be waiting around for your phone call, you need to use your club or high school coach or organize a time for you to call.
  • If you get on the phone, set a time to connect again – If you are fortunate enough to talk to a coach, you need to be sure and leave each conversation with a clear date and time to connect again. Many times coaches and recruits will have a set day and time for the recruit to call each week.

What Happens if a Coach Doesn’t Respond?

There are a few reasons why a coach doesn’t respond to your email/phone calls. The most common reason is they don’t think you have the potential to play for their program (yet). The other reasons might be your coach isn’t relaying the information to you or they don’t have the proper contact info to contact your coach. Because college coaches can’t contact you directly, it is impossible to know why they aren’t returning your messages. All you can do is continue to reach out to more and a wider range of schools.

Are you having trouble finding opportunities to play at the college level? Ask your questions below and we can answer them.


How Coaches Evaluate Character in the Recruiting Process

john woodenOne of my favorite sports quotes comes from the legendary coach John Wooden who said “sports don’t build character, they reveal it.” Increasingly, character is becoming an important part of the recruiting process.

College coaches are no longer only evaluating an athlete on their athletic and academic abilities, they are also looking to see what kind of a person you are. Coaches need to be sure an athlete will handle the transition to college well and having a high character recruit improves the likelihood of a recruit adjusting well. In this article we cover some of the scenarios during the recruiting process where coaches are evaluating character.

*Please note: This doesn’t mean that all athletes who don’t adjust well in college are low character. Sometimes an athlete and the school just aren’t the right fit. However, in order to avoid academic and off the field issues, coaches are are increasingly looking for high character recruits.

Who Handles the Difficult Conversations?

When discussing things like playing time and scholarships, it is easy for parents to what to jump in on behalf of their athlete. Our advice is to hold off and let the athlete handle the majority of the conversation. I like the 80/20 rule, where the athlete should ask 80% of the questions and parents 20%. As a parent you can help your athlete prepare by having pre-written questions they should ask the coach. When an athlete shows a willingness to handle difficult conversations, it shows a coach they will be able to handle the new challenges once they get to college.

Don’t Make a Coach Ask Twice

When coaches send out invites to camps, requests for transcripts or other forms of paper work, they are evaluating an athlete on their ability to do what’s asked. The worst thing you can do as an athlete is not respond to these request or miss the deadlines. Just like you would in the work place, acknowledge receipt of the request, then get the requested information as soon as possible. Coaches know if an athlete has problems handling simple tasks like getting transcripts, they are more likely to have problems taking care of their responsibilities once they are living on their own.

They Will Talk to Anyone for Character Evaluations

College coaches are going to talk to all sorts of people to get a sense for what kind of person the recruit is. Coaches want to know what kind of person you are and that doesn’t just mean on the field or in the gym. We’ve heard of coaches talking to school janitors or even random students in the hallway to find out what a recruit is really like. With the increasing pressure to have high character people in their programs, coaches have a lower tolerance for recruits who could be problems down the road.

Coaches Aren’t Looking for Perfect

This article isn’t intended to scare you into thing coaches are going to look at every little situation as a chance to stop recruiting you. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to show you are more qualified. Coaches understand they are dealing with 15 and 16 year old kids in the recruiting process and they don’t expect them to be able to do everything perfectly. What they are looking for is that an athlete is willing to handle their own responsibilities. Effort and a little bit of maturity can go a long way in impressing a college coach.

 

If you feel like you are stuck in the recruiting process or just not sure what to expect, feel free to write your questions in the comments below or contact us via email.


The Difference Between Generic and Serious Interest from a Coach

understanding college coaches emailsAs a recruit or family it can be difficult to feel like you are making progress in recruiting when coaches send what feel like impersonal emails. People are wise enough to know, generic letters and camp invites don’t constitute serious recruiting interest. When trying to determine if a coach is interested, it is easy to misconstrue a short email for a generic email and think coaches aren’t interested. In the question below, a recruit nearly made the mistake of giving up on schools that were showing strong interest because he didn’t understand the coach’s emails.

I have contacted multiple coaches and updating them on my progress. Three coaches have responded multiple times. All going like this, “thanks for the email. See you on the field. Keep the updates coming.”

Are they interested in me or are these emails generic emails?

Every time I contact one of these three coaches they end with giving me their cell # and other various contact information. They also sometimes send emails “we would like to personally invite you to our camp on date… So and so.”

What does this all mean? Should I bother continue contacting these coaches as I feel I am going nowhere in this process.

These are not generic coach responses

Depending on the size of the program, a single coach could be sharing correspondence like that described with 100 recruits. They simply don’t have time to write lengthy emails to “show” how interested they are. Coach’s emails fall into two categories, those with their cell phone/personal contact info and those without contact information. These email responses might be short, but when a coach includes their personal contact information (cell phone number), they are showing genuine interest.

What does this mean for this recruit?

My guess is this recruit is wondering things like, “are they going to offer me a scholarship” and “what else do I need to do to get more interest.” It is easy to feel like things aren’t going anywhere when you have exchanged multiple emails and the conversation doesn’t appear to be changing.

I would say this recruit is at the half-way point in the recruiting process. This is where coaches have identified him as a potential recruit (they feel he qualifies athletically and academically) and they are moving forward with more in-depth evaluations. As a recruit you want to come away from this period in the recruiting process knowing things like:

  • How many athletes is the program recruiting this year?
  • Do you like the way the program is run?
  • Do your expectations on playing time match what the coach is thinking?
  • Do they plan on offering you a scholarship? If so, how much?

The recruit should take the opportunity to call each coach and begin asking questions about their level of interest and where they see him fitting in with their program. Additionally, he should strongly consider attending these schools camps. Camps give coaches the type of detailed evaluations they count on when making their final decisions between scholarship and walk-on athletes.

The lessons for other recruits and families

This recruit mentioned a critical piece of information, “I have contacted multiple coaches and updating them on my progress. Three coaches have responded…” Notice that not every coach is responding to their emails. We don’t know how many programs they have contacted in total, but you must remember, the majority of coaches aren’t going to respond to your emails. Don’t focus on who you are not hearing from and focus on those who are responding.

Know what to expect and when. After you have gone back-and-froth a few times with a coach, you might be thinking it’s “time to start talking scholarship” and the coach is thinking “time for serious evaluations.” One of the things you want to know with any program is, what’s next. Try to get in the habit of asking a coach what is next in the process. You might not get a response, but when you do, getting that insight into what they are thinking can be invaluable for setting your expectations.

Do you have a recruiting question you want answered? You can ask below in the comments or email me directly (david@athleticscholarships.net). Your questions will not be shared publicly if you do not want them to.


It’s Not a Coach’s Job to Give Scholarships

communicating with coachesThe topics of scholarship offers and dollar amounts are regular sources of frustration in the recruiting process. Most athletes and families over estimate how common and how big scholarship offers are and they get discouraged if a coach doesn’t make a big offer. Below I share some of the most common situations where athletes and coaches have misunderstandings and explain why they happen.

Coach’s Goals Aren’t the Same as Yours

This seems obvious, but it is easy to forget coaches aren’t trying to achieve the same thing as you in the recruiting process. Scholarships are a limited resource and a coach is trying to stretch their dollars. If they can get an athlete to commit and play for less or no money, it helps their recruiting. They aren’t trying to “screw the athlete over,” but simply trying to do the best job they can in putting their team together. It is not a coach’s job to give athletes athletic scholarships, it is their job to win and get the best athletes they can; scholarships are a tool they use to make that happen.

Don’t Confuse Recruiting for Scholarships

I’ve heard many families complain, “if they didn’t have any scholarship money, why did they recruit my athlete so hard?” Coaches will recruit walk-ons just as hard as scholarship athletes. Getting recruited hard doesn’t mean you are going to get a scholarship. Coaches know if they start a conversation with a recruit by saying “I am not going to give you any scholarship money, but…” they will get the door closed in their face. However, if they can get the athlete excited about the opportunity to play for them, they have a better chance of getting that athlete to commit without scholarship money. This isn’t dishonest, it is just a coach doing their job.

The Rules Aren’t the Same for All Coaches

Some coaches can be very direct about how much scholarship money they have and how much you can expect. Other coaches will be vague, even flat out refusing to answer when you ask how much you could get in scholarship money. This doesn’t mean one coach is being honest and the other isn’t; some coaches are prohibited by their universities from telling an athlete how much scholarship money they will get until the athlete commits to the school. You will never know what type of rules a coach has to follow regarding financial aid and admissions discussions with athletes. It is okay to ask coaches questions about scholarships, but if they don’t answer, they probably have a good reason.

Assistant Coaches Might Not Be Allowed to Make the Final Call

Sometimes the coach recruiting you isn’t the one who will make the final call on offering you a scholarship. This is especially common in bigger DI schools where assistant coaches do a lot of the initial recruiting. These coaches are responsible for finding recruits and gathering the information needed to evaluate them with the other coaches. The assistant coach recruiting you and might “really like you,” but, if the program decides they like another recruit more you won’t be getting an offer. In these scenarios families feel like the coach was lying and wasted their time, but they (the coach recruiting you) are probably just as disappointed to lose you.

*Something to remember in this scenario – Assistant coaches frequently change programs and often times will try to contact the recruits they were recruiting at their old program. Don’t burn bridges if one program doesn’t work out, you never know what opportunities might open up later.

There is more than meets the eye when trying to understand why a coach is doing or acting a certain way. You have to try and not take things personal when coaches stop communicating or aren’t answering specific questions. Coach’s motivations in the recruiting process are very different than yours and as long as you can keep that perspective, you stand your best chance at finding the right university.

If you have any questions about particular things happening in your communications with coaches, leave them in the comments below or contact me directly david@athleticscholarships.net.


Timeless Advice on Dealing With College Coaches

advice for communicating with college coachesBill Pennington is a writer for the New York Times. Back in 2008 when his children were going through the recruiting process, he wrote many excellent articles detailing the various aspects of recruiting and scholarships. One of my favorite pieces was “Recruits Clamor for More From Coaches With Less.” In it, he interviews several college coaches about the balance of recruiting an athlete and having to explain to them the limited scholarship money available. While the article is now over 5 years old, much of the advice is still relevant. Here are some of the the key points.

Non-Revenue Sports Aren’t Full-Rides

“Then I tell them I have a 25% scholarship for them… And no one believes you, but that’s a good Division I baseball scholarship. You have to convince his parents that you’re being really fair.”

Unless you play a head-count sport (guaranteed full-rides) your scholarship will probably be a partial scholarship. When we talk about “negotiating” a scholarship, we don’t mean keep looking for a full-ride. Often times a successful negotiation is going from a 10% scholarship to 25% or an unrecruited walk-on (not guaranteed a spot on the team) to recruited walk-on (on the team but no scholarship).

Coaches Talk to One Another

“Families will try to play the coaches off each other… What they don’t know is that we coaches all talk to each other… We will call the other coach”

I am a big proponent of having multiple schools recruiting you and being able to tell coaches you have interest or offers from other schools; this is really your only way to negotiate with a coach. But you have to be 100% truthful about the nature of the interest coming from other schools. It is tempting to exaggerate an offer, but when one coach calls the other, they will get the truth and both schools could stop recruiting you if they found out you lied.

You Will Feel Pressure to Decide

“I’ve waited patiently in the past and lost all three.”

This is a coach talking about how she makes scholarship offers. She will make the same offer to three recruits and let them know, the first one to commit gets the scholarship, the other two lose out. When or if this happens to a family it can feel almost unfair. The truth is you can’t go through the recruiting process without feeling pressure from coaches. Recruiting is competitive and scholarships are hard to come by. At some point you need to be prepared to just make a decision or have other options.

Talk to Those Who Know

“Go sit with the parents of the current players… By the end of the game, they’ll know everything — good or bad. And that’s what really matters.”

It is a great idea to talk to parents of college athletes or former athletes, but, I would caution against trying to talk with the parents of the school you are getting recruited by (as is suggested by the coach in this article). Technically, the parents are considered “boosters” for the program and per NCAA rules aren’t allowed to communicate with recruits or their families. You can always talk with former college athletes or their parents and often times their perspective will open your eyes to the true recruiting process.

It is critical you understand the realty of scholarships for your sport. Not every team has 85 full-ride scholarships like NCAA DI FBS football. Most sports have to stretch their scholarship money and expecting to get full-ride is going to leave you and the coaches recruiting you frustrated. If you have questions about your scholarships in you sport or are feeling unsure about the types of feedback you are getting from coaches, leave them in the comments below or email me directly david@athleticscholarships.net.


Criticisms for Early Recruiting Missing the Mark

early recruiting in collegeThere are over 270 comments and climbing on a recent New York Times article chronicling the increased number of early commits made by college recruits. People are upset at the idea that families and recruits are being asked (some say forced) into deciding on a sport and college in the 8th and 9th grade. The majority of the criticism is aimed at the NCAA, college and club team coaches. People are frustrated at “the recruiting system” that is taking advantage of young girls and families.

Rule changes handed down by the NCAA aren’t going to fix the issues highlighted in the article. There is no system that will protect people willing to make uninformed decisions. Any decision to commit yourself to a school 2, 3, and 4 years before you will be a student there is an uninformed decision. You don’t know if the coach, recruit or school are going to be the same in four years.

These agreements between the athletes and the universities are unofficial “verbal commitments”, which in the eyes of the NCAA officially mean nothing.  Coaches have no obligation to honor a verbally committed scholarship just as the athlete has no obligation to sign with the school. Asking the NCAA to regulate the verbal commitment between an athlete and a coach is going to create more rules, something I don’t think should happen.

What would happen if coaches could contact any recruit they wanted?

The idea that the NCAA or any regulatory body could set rules that would stop a willing recruit and coach from communicating is unrealistic. They have tried to prevent early recruiting in sports like basketball and the effects are an influx of third parties who make the recruiting process worse. I think coaches and recruits should be allowed to communicate as much as they want. It is the frequent communication between a recruit, family and a coach that is going to make a more informed decision. The better you get to know a coach and how they run their program, the better chance you have of making the right choice.

If a top recruit is getting bombarded by interested coaches, then it is the family’s job to set guidelines with coaches. Look at the recruiting process for top basketball prospect Jabari Parker (now a freshman at Duke). An elite talent like Jabari had every coach recruiting him and could have committed to any program he wanted. His parents were concerned the process would be over whelming for him:

We want him to enjoy being who he is. If he wants to talk, we’ll ask him first. Right now, we don’t want him to be over-bombarded because coaches can sometimes be aggressive, and that can be overwhelming.” – Sony Parker (Jabari’s Dad)

His parents had a simple system, no coach or program was allowed to contact Jabari directly. All phone calls and text messages went through them. If a program was being overly aggressive they were removed from consideration. Simple. Effective.

Non-Revenue recruits need to behave like revenue sport recruits

For the big money sports like, football and basketball this type of early recruiting has been happening for years. Why then aren’t more 5-star football and basketball recruits verbally committed? They used to, but verbal commitments have come to mean almost nothing in those sports. Athletes routinely “committed” to a program, and continued to talk to and visit other coaches. In addition, opposing coaches began actively recruiting committed athletes.

While coaches in revenue sports might be “honoring” a verbal commitment between a recruit and a program and agree not to recruit a committed athlete, I wouldn’t expect this trend to continue. There was a time when football coaches honored the agreement not to recruit committed players, but the pressure to sign a top recruit ultimately won out and now all bets are off. It is only a matter of time before non-revenue coaches treat commitments the same as their revenue counterparts.

I don’t condone not honoring your verbal commitment. Instead, the top recruits in non-revenue sports need to understand the power they have in the recruiting process. If they feel they are being forced to take on offer from a coach, is that program really going to be the right school for them?

What can a family or recruit do now to fix this situation?

There is nothing the NCAA or any other college sports regulatory body can do to change the fact some athlete (or their parents) are going to do everything they can to play for a big name school. The competition for these few roster spots are always going to be overly competitive. Whether it is happening in 8th and 9th grade or forced to happen in the last few years of high school, the rules of the game are defined. Competition is fierce, commitments are being made extremely early and you need to accept the risks that come with these decisions.

What many families are discovering is that maybe big time college sports aren’t all it is cracked up to be. Maybe a coach with constant pressure to win isn’t going to provide you with a stable enough scholarship offer. Maybe the balance of athletics and academics at these big schools isn’t right for you.

As a family you set your priorities on what is important in the college experience. If you want sports to be part of it, look for a school that has the type of athletic opportunities you are looking for. There are hundreds of universities that offer a great balance of competition and academics, you don’t have to commit to a major athletic program as an 8th grader if you don’t want to.


I Heard Back From the Coach, Now What?

communicating with college coachesWe spend a lot of time discussing how to begin the recruiting process. It can be difficult to get the attention of the coach and universities that are right for you. Whether you are emailing coaches on your own or using our online profiles to get discovered, the first step is to have 5-10 coaches that are actively recruiting you. Once you have accomplished that, it isn’t as straight forward on what to do next.

The goal is to find a school you want to attend, a team that fits your expectations and if possible get it all paid for through an athletic scholarship. Getting to that point takes a lot of work and it is easy to misread a coach’s response or interest for more than it is. Below I cover some of the most common questions I get once athletes have begun hearing back from colleges.

Please Send Us Your Summer Schedule and Call if You Have Questions

If you hear back from a coach, this is the typical response. Coaches use online profiles and film to make initial evaluations. If they like what they see, they make time in their summer recruiting to come watch you play in person. This can be at a travel tournament, their summer camp or third party combine. When a coach has told you they want to watch you this summer, you are still a long way from a scholarship offer. As a general rule, I say 100-200 recruits have received this same response “that a school will come watch them play” and it is up to you to take advantage of the opportunity giving coaches what they’ve asked for.

Also, if a coach asks you to call them, CALL THEM! This is how you show a coach you are interested; if you don’t call, another recruit will and they will have a better relationship with the school.

Great Communication but No Scholarship Offer

Coaches will recruit a walk-on just as hard as a scholarship athlete. Just because you are having great conversations and the coach says things like “I am really looking forward to having you on our team next year” doesn’t mean they are planning on offering you a scholarship. Most college athletes are non-scholarship athletes and the majority of scholarships are partial scholarships. If you are communicating regularly with the coach, making visits to their campus and feel like you have made it clear you really like their school, maybe it is time to discuss a scholarship with them (more on that here).

Being Asked to Verbally Commit but You Aren’t Sure

Some athletes run into a situation where a coach offers them a scholarship and is asking them to make a verbal commitment very early in the recruiting process (their junior year or earlier). For families this can be an uncomfortable situation because they aren’t sure yet.

Coaches aren’t doing this to make the process more difficult for you (coaches don’t like making scholarship offers to underclassmen either), but because this is just the way recruiting has evolved. In the competition for the best recruits, schools take the chance of committing scholarships to an athlete in their sophomore or junior year in order to get that athlete on their team. Their fear is if they don’t offer, someone else will and they will lose you.

As a recruit, it is your right to ask for more time before making a decision. You should always ask a coach who has offered you “how long do I have to decide on the offer?” After you get timeline for your response, you can plan out your decision making process accordingly. The difficult truth is, there will probably not be a perfect time to commit and ultimately you are going to have to just make a decision based on the options available to you.

This is not an exhaustive list of situation’s you face as a recruit but was written to address some of the most common things I get asked about. The goal of this blog and our website is to help recruits and families get answers to their recruiting questions. Please feel free to email me or leave your question in the comments below and I will answer them.


The Questions You Need Answered From Each School on Your List

questions for college coachesThere are literally hundreds of questions you could ask college coaches. The more you learn about the recruiting process and scholarships, your list of questions grow. Whether you are just getting started with recruiting or have been communicating with coaches for several months, below is a set of basic questions you need to have answers to. These are the questions you should have answers to from every coach or university you are talking to.

Do not feel like you are asking a coach too many questions. By far I would say athletes and families error on the side of asking too few questions to prospective coaches then too many. Despite what you might think, coaches appreciate the questions from recruits. It shows maturity and that a recruit is taking the recruiting process seriously, both things coaches are looking for when recruiting athletes.

Are you planning on offering me a scholarship?

Talking about scholarships is a touchy subject with coaches because you don’t want to sound like that is all you care about. That said it is something that needs to be addressed because it has major financial implications for a family. You want to understand if a school represents a scholarship opportunity or just a walk-on opportunity? Often the only way to get that answer is asking the coach. Here is a blog that will help you know if it is the right time to talk scholarships.

What are the academic requirements for your university?

Just getting the NCAA minimum doesn’t guarantee you acceptance into a university. Coaches know what it takes to get athletes through their admissions office and you need to know what those requirements are. You want to know what your GPA needs to be, what your ACT or SAT scores should be, whether you need to take the SAT 2 and if you are going need anything else in your admissions packet.

When does your/the head coach’s contract expire?

Coaching changes are an unfortunate reality of college sports and extremely disruptive for everyone involved. If a coach recruiting you is approaching the end of their contract or they are at risks of losing their job, that information needs to factor into your decision. You often won’t get a straight forward answer from a coach at risk of losing their job, but you will be able to get a sense of how comfortable a coach is with their job when you ask them this question.

How would you describe your coaching style?

Each coach will have their own philosophy on how to run a program. You want to be sure your personality matches to that of the coaches. If they are high intensity and loud and you like a more cerebral and low key coach, that school isn’t going to be right for you, even if the scholarship package is great. Additionally, if you are used to training a certain way and the coach has a very different training philosophy; it could be a difficult transition. Not all great coaches are great for all athletes and it is your responsibility as a recruit to make sure you find the coach that is right for you.

How are things like playing time and scholarships determined?

Each program has spoken or unspoken rules when it comes to scholarship versus recruited walk-ons and unrecruited walk-ons. I’ve seen programs that treat starting positions or playing time as an open competition. I have also seen coaches that give a bias to their scholarship athletes and the prospect of getting any significant playing time as a walk-on are slim.

When it comes to scholarships, each year they need to be renewed and you need to know what a coach’s policy is on renewing scholarships. Maybe there are a couple of athletes who are more or less guaranteed to get their scholarship or each year is an open competition where you could lose your scholarship to a teammate or incoming freshman.

This certainly not an exhaustive list of things to ask a college coach, but having an answer to all of these questions from the programs you are interested in will make the decision process easier. In addition, showing the ability to have these types of conversations with a coach will increase your value as a recruit.

Is there anything you think I’ve missed? What other things do think you should know about a coach or a program? You can contact me on Twitter or email me directly on Google+.


Writing a Subject Line for Your Emails to College Coaches

subject line for emails to coachesBefore you can get a coach to read and respond to your email, you need to get them to open it. You might have a perfect personalized email with a link to your online profile and video but if your subject line looks generic or uninteresting, they might skip right over it. There is no one way to write a single subject line that is good for all coaches and all universities. The information below is meant to provide you with a frame work to think about for each coach and sport specific examples of email subject lines for coaches.

Think About What’s Important to the Coach

Your subject line needs to appeal to that coach and what is unique about their university. It’s not always easy to know what is most important to a coach in the recruiting process, here are a couple of things to consider about different schools.

  • Top level DI programs need to know you qualify athletically – Coaches at this level make their first judgment on recruits based on if they think they are good enough now or will eventually be good enough to play at that level. You need to list your size, best times or the fact you are including a video to let a coach know they can determine your athletic qualifications in that email.
  • You must have the grades to qualify for elite academic universities – The most challenging thing for coaches at elite academic institutions is finding athletes that can get through the admissions process at their school. It takes a lot more then the NCAA minimum requirements.
  • In-state or out-of-state can make a difference – Many public schools are experiencing budget crunches and college coaches are being asked to try and find out-of-state walk-on’s for their programs. If you are inquiring about a walk-on opportunity with an out-of-state public school, tell the coach you are from another state. Similarly, some coaches are asked to recruit in-state for scholarships so you might want to include that in your subject line to in-state schools.
  • Tell a DIII coach you are looking for a DIII opportunity – Coaches at DIII programs have a difficult time finding recruits who understand how financial aid works for DIII athletes. If you are emailing a DIII coach, try to communicate that you understand what a DIII school means for them.

Covering the basics in the subject line

With the idea of making the subject line unique to each program, you want to make sure not to forget the basics. You must include your name, graduation year (or walk-on request) and then the unique information. For example

“John Doe 2015 Grad [unique information” or “Jane Doe Walk-On Interest [unique information]”

Examples of subject lines to coaches

Each sport has slightly different information needed in the headline, below are example for different sports and positions

Baseball [Pitcher] – “John Doe 2015 Grad RH Pitcher 6’2” 190lbs 85mph Video Included”

Baseball [Outfielder] – “John Doe 2015 Grad 5’10” 170lbs 6.75 60-yard dash Skill Video Included”

Basketball – “John Doe 2016 Grad 6’3” SG Highlight Video & References Included”

Field Hockey – “Jane Doe 2015 Grad Olympic Dev. Team Experience Highlight Video Included”

Field Hockey [Academic] – “Jane Doe 2015 Grad 3.9 GPA 1400 SAT Highlight Video Included”

Football [Undersized] – “John Doe 2014 Grad S/CB 4.56 40 yd dash Highlight Video Included”

Football [Walk-on] – “John Doe Walk-On Interest 6’0” 180lb LB/S Already Enrolled in Classes”

Golf – “Jane Doe 2015 Grad AJGA Tournament Results and Skill Video Included”

Ice Hockey – “John Doe Starting Year 2014 BCHL Grizzlies Forward 6’1” 180lbs” *hockey coaches need to know when you are expecting to start college hockey, typically two years after you graduate high school. Also include the league and team you are playing for.

Lacrosse – “John Doe 2014 Grad 6’0” 175lbs Attack Highlight Video Included”

Rowing [Rower] – “Jane Doe 2015 Grad 5’8” 140lb 7:55 2k”

Rowing [Cox] – “Jane Doe 2015 Grad COX 5’2” 95lbs Championship Experience 3.95 GPA”

Soccer [Domestic] – “John Doe 2014 Grad Forward Highlight Video Included”

Soccer [International] – “John Doe 2015 Grad from Germany Video Included playing for International School of Dusseldorf”

Softball [Pitcher] – “Jane Doe 2015 Grad LH Pitcher 55mph Skill Video Included”

Softball [Outfielder] – “Jane Doe2014 Grad OF/LH Slapper 2.6 Home-1st Skill Video Included”

Swimming – “John Doe 2015 Grad 6’2” 1:42.57 200 Free 1:56.2 200 IM”

Tennis – “Jane Doe 2014 Grad #15 RPI Skills Video Included”

Track & Field [Sprints] – “John Doe 2014 Grad 10.7 100m 21.8 200m”

Track & Field [Distance] – “Jane Doe 2015 Grad 2:10 800m 4:52 1500m 3.5 GPA”

Track & Field [Throws] – “Jane Doe 2015 Grad 44’2.5” PR 5’10” 180 lbs”

Volleyball – “Jane Doe 2015 Grad 5’11” OH 9’2” Approach Jump Highlight Video Included”

Water Polo – “John Doe 2015 Grad 6’4” 200lbs HS/HG Highlight Video Included”

Wrestling – “John Doe 2015 Grad 54kg 33-4 Varsity Record Highlight Video Included”

Make sure you have what you need to write an email first

When you read these email headlines you might think to yourself “I don’t have the information necessary to write that.” You might not have a highlight tape, established rankings or maybe your grades aren’t very good. This should serve as a wake up call to get things together and get organized in your recruiting.

Building a college recruiting resume

Getting coaches to respond to your emails