You can’t judge a prospective player by his profile alone. Coaches know that on the field, players aren’t necessarily what they appear to be on paper. Seldom is anyone offered a spot on a college team just because his or her resume looks good. Your
letters, e-mails, and phone calls cannot tell the whole tale.
Finding a way for a coach to evaluate your ability in person is critical. You may be attractive on paper and a brilliant phone conversationalist. In the end, however, most coaches will want to see you in action before they include you in their long-term plans.
Effective communication, therefore, lays the foundation—off-field CaptainU Recruiting motivates coaches to see you in action, on the field.
Imagine a college coach at a tournament with 30 teams and 500 anonymous athletes. The odds don’t favor the players. But if you’ve gotten on a coach’s radar, that coach knows that he needs to single you out of the crowd. In fact, he’s made a note to
see you play in your 2:30 game. Off-field self-marketing will put you in the spotlight and tilt the odds of being seen at an event heavily in your favor.
Many college teams run summer camps, which are an ideal setting for coaches to evaluate recruits. You may attend as many camps as you like, all of which must be at your own expense. The NCAA prohibits college teams from paying recruits’ camp fees.
Summer camps are often run at a host school and feature coaches from a number of different colleges. Camps provide an unrivaled opportunity for coaches to thoroughly evaluate recruits—and likewise, for athletes to assess the coaches.
Players are usually divided into teams that are headed by one college coach. Over the course of the week, though, the players will have the opportunity to work with every other coach. In this environment, players can be examined at length, so that a few
plays in an isolated game don’t define your ability in the eyes of a coach. Beyond your extensive exposure to a coach on the field, camps allow players to develop personal relationships with coaches. In passing, in the cafeteria, and at scheduled extracurricular activities, you will be able to have casual conversations with them.
You can also arrange to eat lunch together or meet in the dorm lounge if you’d like to speak with a coach more formally about your college prospects. Just don’t be overbearing by constantly requesting to meet with a coach.
Making Arrangements & What To Do Once You’re At Camp
During the winter of your sophomore or junior year, ask your candidate coaches which camps they intend to work that summer. Once you know the camps a coach will attend, make the appropriate notes on your log sheets. Request the camps’ promotional materials and registration forms.
After having a few such conversations with various coaches, you might determine that the coaches from, say, your seven schools of greatest interest will not be attending any camps in common. Fortunately, college coaches are highly networked and are often willing to share information with each other about recruits.
At some camps, the staff writes evaluations for all of the campers. At other camps, you may have to ask. Some coaches will even make calls on your behalf to other coaches who were not in attendance at the camp. When you’re at a college summer camp, use it as an opportunity to talk to coaches. Schedule a time to speak with them 1-on-1—maybe in the dorms or cafeteria. Ask each coach his impressions of your ability, and whether he envisions a role for you on his team. Ask for constructive criticism on what you should work on to contribute to his program.
The camp staff will often feature current college athletes, many of whom spend the summer on campus working or taking classes. Utilize these athletes as resources. Talk to them. What is their college sports experience really like? What kind of commitment does it entail? What do they think about the coaches?
Unfortunately, college camps are expensive, often costing more than $500 for one week. Soften the financial blow by thinking of camp as a sound investment, one that offers the most thorough exposure to college coaches.
Recruiting tournaments and meets provide an excellent opportunity for coaches to get a glimpse of you in a competitive environment. Though coaches’ exposure to you may not be as thorough as at a camp, perceptive coaches can get a sense of your ability pretty quickly.
To successfully arrange for a coach to see you at a tournament, provide him with a schedule, as described in Chapter 13. As soon as you know your team’s general tournament plans, let coaches know—i.e. “We’re going to Wanderer’s Cup in January and The Explorer Invitational in March.” E-mail the coach the exact game schedule when the details are finalized.
If a coach you’ve contacted is in attendance at a tournament, don’t freak out thinking that you have do something amazing. Relax and play as you normally would. In fact, you probably won’t know when exactly the coach is watching. Focus on playing the game, not on scanning the crowd for a guy wearing Bananaville University yellow.
It’s unlikely that college coaches will attend isolated high school or league games unless signing you is an absolute priority or you play close to the college. That said, you should still provide coaches with a schedule of your regular season games—if for no other reason than to show them that you are competing regularly.
KNOW WHEN YOU’RE BEING EVALUATED
Ask each coach which tournaments or individual games he’s going to attend. Though he may not have his schedule figured out exactly, he might be able to give you a general idea. This isn’t so that you can honor him with an extra-special effort on that
extra-special day. It’s so you know what games he’s seen and when to have follow-up conversations regarding your play. Take notes on your follow-up conversations and how you think you played while he was watching you. You should be aware that NCAA regulations stipulate that coaches cannot speak with recruits before, during, or between games. College coaches also may not speak with recruits until the club or high school coach has released the players at the end of a game.
Stay tuned for more of “Make the Team”, written by CaptainU CEO, Avi Stopper with #MaketheTeam
Create a free CaptainU profile today to get your college athletic search underway!