The recruiting process often starts with a player contacting a coach. This post will walk you through how to get started contacting schools and how to build a recruiting relationship with coaches.
Your first contact with a school
Your first interaction with a college coach can happen in a number of different ways. Maybe you notice a coach watching one of your matches or speaking with your club or high school coach. Maybe you receive a questionnaire in the mail or an advertisement to attend a summer camp. Or, maybe you initiate the first interaction by sending an email to the coach or calling them on the phone.
Regardless of how it starts, developing a recruiting relationship with coaches is key to the recruiting process. A great way to get that relationship rolling is to send coaches an email about yourself.
Sending the first email
Sending that first email may seem a little daunting. Do it anyways! Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is one great side benefit of the recruiting process.
After writing a friendly greeting to the coach, here’s a few things you should include in your first email
- Graduation year
- Home town and state
- Approach touch and block touch
- Club team
- High school team
- Impressive stats or achievements
- Upcoming matches or tournaments
- Link to video
Keep your emails brief and to the point, remember that college coaches receive hundreds of these and you want yours to be short and memorable. Using a bulleted list or table may be the best way to organize lots of information into one concise description of yourself.
What do college coaches want to know?
College coaches have the difficult job of sorting through thousands of athletes to determine which ones are a good fit for their program. Some coaches will receive your first email and know right away that you are the wrong fit for their program—it could be that they’ve already finished recruiting for your graduating class, for example. Others, however, will get your first email and want to learn more about you. These are the ones who will click on your video link and may even come to watch you play live.
Building the relationship
Whether or not coaches can contact you back depends on your age, so don’t be surprised if you don’t receive a response to an email or phonecall (read up on the NCAA rules regarding contact between coaches and players in the NCAA Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete).
Even if a coach can’t always email you back or contact you directly, there are some ways they can show interest in you. For example, they may come to watch you play live or speak with your high school or club coach.
Keep building the relationship by updating coaches occasionally on your tournament schedule and outcomes and sending them congratulatory emails when their team wins a match. If this school is in your top ten and you have the opportunity to attend their summer camp, do so.
Phone calls are hard, but do them anyways!
Eventually (and maybe quite quickly), you will reach a point where you will want to start having real conversations with coaches about their interest in you. You can call coaches at any age (although they may not be able to call you back). I was incredibly nervous the first time I called a college coach, but I was amazed at how easy the coach made it for me. Remember that they receive dozens of calls from anxious teens.
What should you talk about? Reaffirm your interest in the school, your love for volleyball, remind them who you are and give an update on yourself and your team. Speak positively about your teammates, coaches, and parents. You should also ask questions such as
- Are you still recruiting for my graduating class?
- What positions are you looking for in my class?
Beyond that, you can also ask questions about the school, the program, the team culture, the coach’s style of coaching, etc.
Can coaches contact me?
When and how a coach can contact you depends on your sport, your age, and the NCAA division the school plays in. Look up the contact schedule here (PDF download is free).
The bottom line
Contacting schools for the first time can be a little nerve-wracking, but it has to be done! There are very few players who are so talented that college coaches will naturally find and recruit them. The vast majority of high school athletes will need to make the first contact with college coaches and begin the recruiting process by their own initiative.