Do you want texts, emails, and DMs from coaches? It helps to know when when and how they can reach you.

Electronic messages are great ways to talk with coaches. Texts, emails, and social media direct messages make it easy to share a quick thought. The NCAA sets rules for when coaches can reach you this way. As a freshman, you can text with Division III coaches. By June 15 after your sophomore year, Division II coaches are available, too. (Men’s ice hockey and men’s basketball players also get to chat this way with Division I coaches as sophomores.) On September 1 of your junior year, all coaches are open. They can text you as often as you want—just not during their games or in public ways, like on message boards or social media “walls.”

You use electronic messages every day. Texts, emails, Twitter DMs, and Snapchats are all ways that you might quickly blast an idea to your friends. These tools can be resources for your college search, too. You can swap messages with college coaches as you build great relationships with them.

As a high school freshman, you might not get too many messages. You’re just starting to prove your skills, and Division III coaches are the only ones allowed to text you. But as you get through your sophomore year, things pick up, depending on your sport. Men’s ice hockey players can get messages from Division I coaches as of January 1, and men’s basketball players can receive them from Division I coaches as of June 15. By June 15, regardless of your sport, you’re allowed to text with coaches from Division II.

A few months later, the rules relax. By September 1 of your junior year, you can trade texts from all coaches in all divisions. The NCAA puts no limit on how many you swap, and that open policy continues through your senior year.

But there are still messaging rules that coaches have to follow. They aren’t supposed to write to you in public ways, like on message boards, chat rooms, or social media “walls.” They also can’t text you during their games or matches. It’d be flattering if a coach texted you at halftime to get your thoughts on a big game, but it can’t happen. From the time his or her team gets to its contest site through the time the contest ends, the coach can’t send you messages.

Use these electronic messages to stand out. They’re very casual, but it’s still smart to use appropriate language and show every coach respect. You’re getting to know these coaches and you’re well on your way to making a great college team.

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