Once you’ve sent a coach your cover letter and profile, and have replied to all requests for supplemental information, it’s time to buckle down and get on the phone. Phone calls from college coaches have an exaggerated reputation, as if once you’ve been called you’re assured a spot on the team. Many high school players also mistakenly believe that if they don’t receive a phone call the situation is hopeless. There are countless reasons why a coach may not call you—many of which do not reflect your ability to play for his or her team. This is what makes CaptainU Recruiting so important. Doing things like making phone calls will strengthen your cause. Don’t just wait for calls to come to you. If you do sit and wait, the calls may never come.
Each coach has their own phone calling strategy. Some call top recruits weekly, others monthly. Still others never call, opting for email or for the player to call them. If this is the case, what a pity it would be if you never picked up the phone! You’ll quickly get a sense of what mode of communication works best with a particular coach. As these trends emerge, make notes in your CaptainU Log outlining the best ways to be in touch with each coach. NCAA regulations are also a factor. If you’re a junior making a mad dash for the phone every time it rings, stop sweating. The NCAA prohibits coaches from calling recruits before July 1 of their senior year of high school. But that doesn’t mean that as a sophomore or junior you can’t call them.
Sophomores and especially juniors should speak with coaches on the phone. The call, however, has to be on your dime. A coach is not even allowed to return a message from a recruit before July 1 of the recruit’s senior year. So if you leave a message and receive no response, keep calling until you eventually connect with the coach.
WHEN TO CALL
Be conscientious about when you call coaches. Don’t call on Friday at 5 p.m. or two hours before the team has a game. Look at the team’s schedule, which you can access through the CaptainU Team Profile. Mornings are often the best time to call coaches, because they’re not in a rush to get to practice.
Since you’re probably in school at this time, you need to develop a calling strategy. Find a time during the day, during study hall or immediately after school to call coaches. Find a quiet place like a teacher’s office or empty classroom where you can focus and make the call without any interruptions.
GIVE A HEADS-UP
It’s a good idea to let a coach that you are going to call. Email them a day in advance so they can review your materials before you talk. That said, you shouldn’t expect them to know your resume by heart.
1 DAY LATER…
Take a deep breath and dial with confidence. Remember, you’re making the coach’s life easier! Be assertive when you call; make it a conversation, not a Q&A where you expect the coach to keep it flowing. Nothing is worse than an awkward silence that deteriorates into a cross-examination by the coach. This is a conversation, not an interrogation. Before you call, look at your CaptainU Log to refresh your memory about the team—what conference they play in, how many seniors are on the team, what their record is this season, who they play next, the roster positions they need to fill, etc. Make a list of talking points and questions to ask the coach, so the conversation doesn’t stall. Cross them off as you go. Be frank with the coach. Ask general questions about the team and what you need to do at this point to distinguish yourself from the rest of his or her list of prospective players.
When you hang up, breathe deeply again. Phew, it wasn’t so bad, right? Take a moment to jot down your impressions of the call—personal tidbits about the coach, the program, where you think you stand, and what steps you need to take next. File your notes and record the call on your log sheet. Now repeat the process for the other colleges on your list.
Beyond this ice-breaker phone call, you should call each of your candidate coaches from time to time. How often you should call depends on a number of variables, including how far out you are from graduating, your application plans, whether you’re trying to coordinate a visit or a tournament appearance, etc. Generally speaking, you should call a coach every couple months. As application deadlines near, or as you plan a visit, you may need to call more often.
WHEN A COACH CALLS YOU
If a coach calls you, be an active participant on the phone. Don’t just sit there and receive a lecture. Think on your feet—ask questions, make observations. At the end of the call, thank the coach for taking the time to call you. Let them know that you will be in touch in the near future. If you do a good job promoting yourself to coaches, as a senior you will start receiving phone calls from your candidate coaches. Your work will have begun to put you in the recruiting spotlight. This does not mean, however, that you should stop calling the coaches.
You should definitely reciprocate from time to time. It’s a great way to raise your standing. In other words, if a coach has been calling you, a call from you will leave them feeling very positive about your recruitment.
Stay tuned for more of “Make the Team”, written by CaptainU CEO, Avi Stopper with #MaketheTeam
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