The High School Coach’s Role in College Recruiting
By Jason Pendleton, Blue Valley Southwest HS Girls Coach/NSCAA National Coaching Staff Associate
The high school game with the aid of a qualified high school coach can play an important role in helping players in the recruiting process. If your state plays high school in the spring then college coaches in your area are likely to attend high school games. To assist in players’ college selection process there are some specific things that high school coaches can do.
The first step is for coaches to be able to realistically evaluate a player’s ability relative to the appropriate college level. Understanding the characteristics needed for a player to compete in different divisions (NCAA, NAIA, etc.) is the first step in helping players in the quest. Coaches can learn to do this by watching all levels of college games and by tracking where other players from the area have competed successfully in college as a means of comparison.
Once a coach has determined what the realistic option is for the player, a meeting should be set up with the player and his/her parents to discuss what the player is looking for in a college experience. From that meeting, the player should produce a list of schools he/she is potentially interested in attending.
At this meeting, the coach should explain the rules of contact that players need to know for NCAA Divisions I and II. Rules on when email and phone contact can occur differ from division to division within the NCAA, and between the NCAA and NAIA.
Following that discussion, the high school coach should instruct the player to do the following things:
1. See their academic counselor about their goals and see if academics and test scores are in line with their objectives. Visit and register for the NCAA Eligibility Center if applicable.
2. Contact the college coach with a specific email (or phone call) expressing potential interest. College coaches greatly prefer hearing directly from the individual player, rather than his or her parents.
3. Provide the college coach with a detailed schedule of tournaments they will participate in. As the tournament approaches follow up with a schedule of games, date, time, field and player jersey number.
4. Encourage the player to follow up after the tournament with a phone call. It might be useful for you to provide a phone script to help the player fight through their nerves with this call. Please inform the player that depending on their year in school the college coach may or may not be able to call back but can answer the phone.
The high school coach should do the following:
1. Contact college coaches in the area at the appropriate level and encourage them to take a look at their player. Provide honest information on strengths and weaknesses. This is a critical step. If a coach is not honest or is ignorant about a player’s relative ability level, they will lose all credibility with those college coaches in the future.
2. If quality video is available, offer to send it to the coach or upload it to YouTube and email the link. The video will not result in a scholarship offer but it might motivate the coach to want to evaluate the player in person.
3. Email those coaches on your player’s list after tournaments and ask for an honest assessment. “Is Jimmy potentially good enough to play at your school?" Look for specific feedback. The high school coach should provide his/her phone number and offer to give their perspective on the player’s role on their team.
4. Call schools directly to open a dialogue. This will not only help current players but also will create a network of coaches to help with future recruits.
After a player takes a visit, the coach should follow up with both the player and the college coach. Find out what the player liked and did not like about the visit. Contact the coach to see what he/she thought and offer to help out with communication if need be.
As the player gets closer to making his/her decision, offer to help with any questions they might have. If the player wants your opinion about a coach or a school, provide an honest opinion. Remember, the high school coach should want his or her player to choose the school that will provide the best overall experience (academically, athletically and socially). Be supportive when a decision is made and spread the word far and wide that one of your high school players has decided to continue playing the beautiful game at “the next level.”
After reading this article, coaches at all levels will be interested in a related 2013 Convention Roundtable Discussion hosted by Mike Jacobs, head men's coach at the University of Evansville. He will be leading the session titled "Building a Recruiting Network," which he previewed earlier this fall in an NSCAA.com feature.