How to know when a college coach is just leading you on? 

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The college recruiting process can be a confusing one, and the coaches can make it much worse at times. One of the toughest parts of the recruiting process is knowing how serious a school is in their recruitment of you.

Let’s start with “the board”. To better understand this concept you must understand the recruiting board that is a giant dry erase board in virtually every college coaches office. It lists out the players they are “recruiting” and has them ranked in the order that that they want those kids. Here’s where the fun comes in… where you are on that board determines how they treat you during the recruiting process. Roughly speaking, here’s how it breaks down:

1-3 They love you and can’t stop calling, texting, tweeting, and showing up to your games. You are hearing from them almost daily, or as much as the rules allow. They let you know it’s a match made it heaven. Not only are you hearing from the asst coach, but the head coach is involved in the process as well. At this point you may have received a scholarship offer if it’s D1 or for D3 a guaranteed spot on the team and the coach is pushing hard to get you the most financial aid possible.

4-6 They say they love you and you feel the love when you’re talking, but something is missing.  You don’t hear from them all that often. It’s more like once a week, or 10 days. They say things like “we would love to have you here” or “you would look great in our uniforms”, but they never go as far as say those magic words of “we are offering you”. So you wait for them, patiently, not knowing what’s going on. Well, what’s going on is they are spending time writing love letters to 1-3 hoping they get one of them and don’t have to settle for you. But they need to make a great enough effort with you so when 1-3 commit somewhere else and you move up their board into those spots they can be there to sweep you off your feet. At this point they will say things like “we’ve been here for you the whole time” and remind you of the relationship they’ve built with you.

6-10 You will hear from them, but it’s periodic. They will sell you, but not that hard. They will work to build a relationship, but not pour everything into it. It’s not like they are going through the motions, but sometimes it may feel that way. The conversations will be more based off of how great the school is and how amazing the program is, but not necessarily convincing you how great you will be in this program. They want to make sure you know how great they are so if the players ahead of you on the board commit to other schools they are in a position to turn up the heat on your relationship.

10+ You will hear from them, but you may not hear their voice. It’s going to be quick and easy communication. Form letter in the mail. Email about the school. Text, tweet, direct message, etc. They are planting a seed with you so in case they want it to grow later they can make some more effort.

As I’m writing this,  I know that the numbers I put in the categories above vary and are not exact, but the principles are spot on. The point of my sharing this with you is to allow you to understand that when you get a form letter in the mail, or a once a month call from a coach, it doesn’t mean they have offered a spot on the team. Don’t allow a coach to lead you on through this process thinking you are their priority when you’re actually pretty far down the list. Use their signals to better understand where you are on their “recruiting board”.

Author: Alex Harris

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