Do you know your child can contact coaches? How does that work? There is no one right answer. Coaches’ personalities and athletes’ personalities combine in lots of ways. But here are some tips that will help you out. But let’s boil it down to: Just have your child reach out and get started.
Get started! Contact coaches
Once your child researches colleges and picks out several possible schools, they should begin to contact coaches. I know this is crazy scary, but real teens contact college coaches every day.
As a parent, this is not the time to give in and make the call for your child. Coaches want to hear directly from the athlete hoping to compete. You can help your teen prepare for the call; help them plan what to say. Do a mock call, if you want, and practice once or twice. Then push your child to make the call. The worst that can happen is that a coach will give your child a quick rejection or ignore the call. No harm done even if this happens. Emphasize the advantages of letting coaches know your athlete is out there, hoping to play, and willing to do what it takes to be a college athlete. Good things happen.
Athletes can contact coaches at any time. Any time after the beginning of the sophomore year should be early enough. The sophomore and junior years are the most critical times to be reaching out to coaches. The longer your child waits, the more doors will close.
Contact coaches by phone
Are you wondering if it’s really okay to call a coach out of the blue? Yes!
Your child is free to call, text, or email coaches. And I recommend that athletes reach out. Athletes have a lot of freedom to contact coaches.
In contrast, the coaches must follow the recruiting rules as they respond. You may feel the coach has ignored your child’s call. Instead, the coach isn’t able to respond for another year or two. That’s okay! Interested coaches will take notes and remember your athlete. Have a basic awareness of what to expect in each division and you won’t be easily disappointed. Also, I recommend you and your child use common sense and find programs in which your child has a realistic chance of competing. Otherwise, I guarantee, your child will be ignored. With these caveats in mind, encourage your child to bold and make the call.
Here is my recommendation for your child’s initial contact with the coach. Athletes should call the coach, express interest in the program, and promise to send more information to them. If voice mail picks up, prepare your child to leave their name and tell the coach they will follow up by email. This phone call will increase the likelihood that a coach will respond. It shows an athlete’s initiative and a personal interest in the college. The call is scary, but it’s quick and will yield better results.
Contact coaches by email
After your child has called the coach it’s time to send that email. Like the phone call, the email should be short. Your child doesn’t need to include a life history. Here’s a quote from my article about why the first email matters so much. Start out with a personal greeting:
An email that starts ‘Dear Coach’ and then proceeds gets thrown out pretty quick. Start an email ‘Dear Coach Babinski’ and then in the 1st paragraph make it personal and comment on our season or most recent wins. Then…you can copy and paste. It’s a little trick that will show coaches that you took an extra few minutes to connect in a personal way. NAIA Softball Coach of Indiana Wesleyan University, Steve Babinski.
Next, include 3 short paragraphs:
First, your child should provide an introduction: where they are from, academic GPA, test scores, club, and high school team.
The second paragraph is very important. It should include information that makes it very clear to the coach that this was not a spam email (one to every coach in the country). You would not believe how many emails coaches receive from players that are more like spam than one written by an interested athlete. While it’s fine to copy and paste the bio information from the first paragraph onto every email, this paragraph needs to be unique. Include something about the university or program that is very specific (call the school by name) and why your child is interested in their team.
The third paragraph should detail what events your child will be at and where to find a video (the link) if they have one on YouTube. This way if the coach is interested in recruiting your child they can quickly see your athlete in action.
Fill out a recruiting questionnaire
Finally, your child should follow up on the email by filling out a recruiting questionnaire, found on a team’s homepage. A quick way to find it is to type “school name recruiting questionnaire” into your search bar and a link should pop up in the results. Filling out the questionnaire ensures your child’s name and information are in the system and the coaches have all the information they require. While the email shows an extra level of personal interest, your child should do this to be sure all the boxes are checked. And if the coach sees your child’s name twice – even better!
Prepare a resume that your child can attach to the email. It should include:
- Name, address, phone number, DOB, email, and eligibility center # if you have one.
- Academics: School, grad year, GPA, ACT/SAT scores
- Position and number for club and high school team
- References: Club and high school coaches’ phone numbers and emails
- Upcoming Tournaments
Your child can prepare one resume that can be sent to every college coach they contact. The email should be short and personalized for each coach, then send the resume as an attachment. You will be able to find the coach’s email on the specific sport page or under the athletic directory.
Don’t neglect communication
If your child is in contact with a coach, make sure to communicate regularly. Contacting a coach once every few months is appropriate for a freshman or sophomore. Juniors and especially seniors should be in contact with a coach every month. Emails and texts are usually fine.
What should your child include in emails or texts? Your child should provide coaches with an updated schedule, and a tidbit or two of what they are doing. You can also tell coaches as you complete steps of the college admissions process. Your child can let coaches know their SAT/ACT scores. The scores sent directly to the school will be the official score for admission. However, keeping the coach up to date shows your child’s interest in the program. Likewise, have your child send a quick text when they send in their application or any other step of the process. All these communicate an athlete’s serious interest in the college.
Another important courtesy, if your child has been talking to a coach (or if a coach is trying to get in touch with your child) and your family decides against the school, send an email or text letting the coach know. They won’t be upset. It frees the coach and saves their time for interested players. Finally, it is common courtesy.
Respond to coaches
If a coach contacts your child, make sure your child responds. Return all calls, texts, or emails. Fill out player profiles or questionnaires if coaches request it. An athlete who fails to hold up their end of the communication will make the coach lose interest. Remember there are a lot of high school players vying for a select number of college roster spots. Your athlete is part of a big numbers game. Coaches don’t have time to invest in players who don’t respond.
Here’s another quick tip: one-word answers are not communication. The coach asks, “How’s your season going?” Your child, the one desperately hoping to be offered a roster spot and hefty scholarship, says, “Fine…(silence).” Teens love to communicate in monosyllables. Your kids are normal if they do this. Don’t feel too bad. But don’t let your kids stay here! This is a great opportunity to help your child grow up. Coach them ahead of time to add one or two relevant details as they answer each question. Encourage your teen to think of a question they could ask. Train your kids to have a real phone conversation.
Texts provide another opportunity to impress the coach. Words should be spelled correctly. While answers will be shorter, try to have your child type out more than one word. Finally, remember it is always appropriate to say thank you, and it only takes a second.
Every phone call, text, or email is a small opportunity for your child to convince the coach that your child is THE player they need on their team. Your role as the parent is to prepare your child for genuine communication. Teens love one-word answers and low-information communication. It drives us crazy as parents, right? But the recruiting process is the perfect time for teens to start acting like adults.
The Assistant Coach
Is it a bad thing if your athlete is only receiving calls or emails from the assistant? No, not at all. The head coach does not have time to do all of the communicating with a recruit. It is the job of assistant coaches to make early contacts. This frees the head coach to focus on players who have been identified as having an interest in their program. Your child may have emailed a Head Coach and hears back from the Assistant. Perfect! Now your child is on their radar screen.
When you first reach out to the coaching staff at larger schools it is probably wise to contact the assistant coach first. By doing that you’re more likely to receive a response. Large programs may have a designated Recruiting Coordinator. Obviously, make the Recruiting Coordinator your first point of contact. Who Do I Email First? is a helpful article if your child is talented enough to be contacting schools with a large coaching staff. However, most college teams are staffed by the Head Coach and the Assistant, making your decisions easy.
Your child may not speak with the head coach until you actually visit campus. At this point, if the coach is interested in your child, communication will likely change. Your athlete may begin to hear from both coaches, or primarily from the head coach as it is the head coach’s job to make the final sale and get you to commit to coming.
Athletes should treat the assistant coach with the same courtesy and respect they show to the head coach. The opinion of the assistant coach affects the decisions the head coach makes about filling roster spots.
What if we don’t hear back from a coach?
If your child is a junior or senior and receives no response from the coach after a couple of tries, move on. The coach clearly isn’t interested. Maybe the coach has filled the roster spots for the year and just doesn’t need your child. On the other hand, maybe your child isn’t talented enough to play at that level. Give this some serious thought. Are you aiming too high?
If your child is younger, the silence may simply have to do with timing. Check the recruiting rules. Be patient.
There is more talent available than roster spots. Unless your teenager is a top-tier athlete, college coaches will not know they are alive. It’s your teen’s job to contact coaches. If you feel like you’re stumbling along, or haven’t even started the recruiting process, it is time to take action. Start here on the Recruiting Code. Read and do your homework. It’s all free!
If you’re looking for a step-by-step plan to boost your confidence and keep you motivated, check out How to Get Recruited. You shouldn’t have to worry that you’ll ruin your teen’s chances of a college career. Ditch the frustration when you don’t know what to do next, or where to turn. Everything you need to know to turn your athlete’s talent into offers is right here in this guide. Plus it comes with a money-back guarantee, so there’s absolutely no risk to you. Give it a try…for the win.
2 thoughts on “First Contact with a College Coach”
Dear Mr. Drotar, I am the Father of an 11th Grade Daughter who has played Softball since she started T-Ball at age 5. She Loves The Game and like most Students she Dreams of going on to Play Ball in College Somewhere.
I had No Clue Where To Even Start looking or Applying for Scholarships!
Your Website has Opened My Eyes to So Much Information! Things that I never would have even considered in our search.
I would just like to say “Thank You” for Obviously Caring about these Children preparing to Take the Next Step in furthering their Educations.
I will definitely be ordering your Book, And I signed up for your Newsletter also.
I am Sure that by using your Techniques, Me and my Daughter will gain Important Knowledge that will Help us as we start our Search for a College for her to Hopefully go to and Play softball for.
I forgot to mention that my Daughter has nearly a 5.0 G.P.A. which I Hope will help her when she applies to these Colleges.
Thank You Again,
Sincerely, Greg Couch
Thank you for your kind words. I am excited for your daughter. I trust with a bit of direction she will be able to find a great athletic fit for her college years. Yes, her gpa will prove to be as important or more so than her athletic abilities when it comes to the financial aspect of her college decision. Let me know if you have any questions along the way.
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