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Recruiting 101 / Best Practices

We have been asked a number of times over the years what coaches want to see and what they don't. We have been also been asked what is the best way to make sure our player is seen. Well.... We went and reached out to a large number of college coaches through out the country to get their take on some of these questions and more. Here is what they had to say:

  1. What is the most important part of the recruiting process for players in your opinion?
    • ​​​​​​​Reaching out directly to the schools they are interested in.
    • Contact coaches early in your Junior year, be proactive and keep in touch via e-mail.  Be honest.

    • Developing and maintaining an honest and open relationship.  Finding out if the player “fits” with our school and our program.

    • They need to know their level and if they are looking for money as opposed to going to the school of their choice and having to walk on
    • Starting early and contacting coaches by January (1st tourney) of junior year giving them complete contact info. 
    • Establishing a relationship with potential program coaches.  We get a lot of unwanted mail.  Pick up the phone and call or send an e-mail addressed to that coach and reference the program.  We know when its just random and when someone has done their homework.
    • A very important part of the recruiting process is being able to decipher what exactly you are looking for in a college.  There are things that every recruit wants from their future college:  good academics, good volleyball program, and good team chemistry.  But there are other details that need to be considered.  Here are a couple to think about during the process: Does the school have the major that you are interested in and how prestigious is that program? Location Location Location..distance from home is one thing but you also need to consider if they want a campus that is in a city, or in more of a rural area. Does the coaching staff have a coaching style that will help you grow as a player?  What type of coach do you want to play for? See as many schools with unofficial visits as possible so you can get an idea of what each type of school is like.  
  2. Where do you think most players go wrong when beginning their recruiting profiles and preparation?
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Poor filming (ie just sending a highlight reel and not game play), errors in contact info (mailing wrong coaches name)
    • So many players do not make it clear what number they wear for high school and club.  I need to know who you are!

    • Worried too much about level from the outset.  “I’m not looking at D2 right now, focusing on D1”.  They should focus what type of school and what level of commitment they are looking to find. 

    • They send a mass letter to all the schools and list all the coaches on the sheet.  They need to do their homework and look at schools that have what they want to study as well as if they can play at that level

    • Perhaps not having a realistic view as to what level they can play in college. 

    • What catches my eye in profiles is including stats, most seem to be HS stats and I’d prefer Club stats but many clubs doing keep stats (Why I have no idea).  Also I prefer come footage, not highlights.
    • I would suggest that you are organized with who you are contacting and keeping track of what you like or dislike about the school and volleyball program.  It is not easy to stay organized especially when you are contacting so many schools, but it will be worth it throughout the process.  Create a journal that has a page for each school you are talking to and visiting—write out the pros, cons, and important info you find out.  List questions you have for that coach too, so when you talk the next time, you remember and can find out. 
    • Be up to date with your information on University Athlete before club season starts, this is key for all recruiters not only during tournaments, but afterwards when we want to get more information about you.

  3. What do you like to see when you get emails from players?
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​PSA (potential student athletes) that research our school and put some time in (knowing we have their major)
    • Brief, to the point, include Academic information and what you would like to study
    • Most important…something that makes me think they looked specifically at our school and have an interest.
    • Why they are interested in PS and that they have done some research on us and the program and school and why they have an interest and what they can offer to us
    • Name, uniform number, club team, high school team, GPA, club coach and contact info, and their own contact info, height, schedule 
    • That the refer to me as Coach Smith not just Coach and that they have confidence that they can contribute here and I can tell they have been on our web-site.
    • The email should always have: Name (one used in University Athlete), Graduating Year, Position, Email Address, Phone number, Height, Approach Touch, Block Touch, High School Coach name/phone number/email, Club Coach name/phone number/email, Video Link.
  4. What is the one big turn off when you get contacted by players?
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Contacts made by parents, incorrect information (wrong school or coaches name in email)
    • Lengthy e-mails- paragraph after paragraph explaining their entire life history.

    • If the message looks blasted.  Call a college a university or vice versa, call me by the wrong name, etc.  Not real worried about syntax or grammar, but just making sure it looks like it’s from me to them.

    • The form letter and thinking we give out aid for minimal effort

    • When they call me or my school by wrong name (bad copy and paste job)

    • By biggest turn off is getting profiles set to me from recruiting organizations and not directly from the player.  I don’t even open them.
    • All emails sent to me should have my name in the email.  We all understand that recruits are sending this same email to a lot of schools, but it is a big turn off when I receive a recruit email that doesn't even have my name in it.  Also be very careful to have the right name with the right email along with the correct spelling.  Please check for misspelled words throughout the whole email.Make our job as easy as possible by making sure your email is concise, represents you well, and has the above information listed. 
  5. Is there anything you would like to see more of in recruiting videos? Anything you just wish players never included?
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Game play, game play, game play.  Turn the camera on and walk away.  NO SERVING HIGHLIGHTS.  We don't care how well you serve.
    • More unedited game play- not just highlight after highlight.  Everyone makes mistake and I would like to see how they respond.

    • More continuous play without dead-time.  Like to see continuation of points from one to the next…if they’re involved.   NEVER include footage when you are not on the court!!  And…I’d be OK without the soundtrack!!  Good if you’re doing a spoken intro, but the music isn’t needed (for me).  Oh…and I really like when folks can point out the player on the floor with an arrow or spotlight.  I mean, we can find her pretty quickly, but the indicator takes the work out of it!!

    •  I want to see a few clips of what they do well and what they think might separate them from others

    • Shorter skills segment as opposed to 15 reps of every skill. 

    • I’d like to see more game footage unedited.  I like to see the transitional part of the game, not just the end of a skill.  I’d like to see less skills drills.  I just pick apart the mechanics and it’s not game like.
    • When making a video make sure to put your most important skill that your position executes first in the video.  When looking at a Middle Blockers video I want to see that recruit attack and block first.  When you have an unedited match video sent to us, please take out situations where you are not in the match and timeouts.  Slow motion highlights and serving are not helpful on film.  
  6. Do you take parents of players into consideration when it comes to your process? What advice would you give parents when it comes to their daughters recruiting process?
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Yes.  A lot more than we used to.  We like to meet the parents, but let the PSA control the process.
    • Yes I do.  Parents need to allow the students to answer their own questions when they are on a recruiting visit.

    • Absolutely!!   Advice…slow down!!  Let the player do the work and be sure the players interest is genuine…not what the parent wants or thinks the player wants…but what the player wants.   When a player shows up to visit and you can tell they don’t want to be there at all, but mom/dad wanted them to visit…well that’s no fair to anyone.

    • I am aware of certain behaviors of the parents but it is their child but I have walked from parents who I thought would be a challenge.  Parents should pay for the kids to do unofficial visits and assist their children with the process and have their bullshit antennae’s in play.  Their daughter is going to school but they would be negligent to not care enough to monitor the process

    • Well I enjoy talking to the parents of course and establishing a relationship with them because they will most likely be paying the bill. I generally do not hold a parent's behavior against the player. Parents need to let their kids do most of the talking during a visit. 

    • I do watch parents closely.  You can tell a lot about what you might get from the way they treat their daughters and the way the daughters interact with the parents and coaches.  I want the player to sell herself to me, not the parent.  Parents need to speak less and players speak more.
    • Parents and families of the recruit are heavily considered when deciding on recruits.  We always want to recruit players that come from families that have great values because we will know that the recruit will then bring those values to our program also.  We will pay attention to parents during tournaments and see how they are reacting to positive and negative moments during a match and also how they interact with their daughters.  
    • Parents should be involved in the recruiting process, but they can't forget that their daughter is the one that will be going to the school and not them.  Parents need to be there to help the daughter enjoy the process and not stress/pressure them during it.  It should be a fun enjoyable experience that everybody enjoys.

  7. If you go to a court to watch players, what are you look at? What are you not concerned with?
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​1.  Vball skill (obviously). 2.  Interaction with coach.  3.  Interaction with teammates.  I love watching timeouts.  I am not concerned with outcome of the match.
    • Attitude, athletic ability, court presence.  Not concerned with the win or loss
    • Concerned with just about everything…how she plays, reacts to coaches, talks to teammates, asks her mom for more water…talks to her little brother…etc.  We’re recruiting the whole person, not just the on the court part.   Not concerned with…well…maybe I don’t care all that much how her hair looks or if her socks match??

    • Depends what position we are looking to fill but I certainly think body language is a factor but skill and will to compete guides me

    • I'm looking at how a player responds to her teammates and interacts with her teammates and her coaches. I'm also looking if they can receive feedback from the coaches and how they also interact with their parents. I am also looking for athleticism of course and depending on the position their arm swing movement to the ball, consistency etc.

    • I have a process when looking at players.  I’m first looking to see if they are athletic.  Next I’m looking at bio mechanics and third work ethic, fourth team chemistry and leadership potential.  I’m less concern about outcome of a rally or errors.
    • There are obvious physical things that we are looking for when we are watching during tournaments but we also pay a lot of attention to the mental side of each player.  We are not concerned with what the score is but we are very interested in seeing how the recruit reacts when things are not going well.  Its easy to look relaxed and have fun when things are going great, but what how do they react when things are not going as well?
  8. What is more important to you: Great play for a point or a great warm up working on refining skill?
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Both.  Not sure they have to be exclusive.  We don't watch a lot of warm-ups due to time.
    • Working on refining skill
    • To me, game play is the most important.  We’re not going to win many matches in warm-ups.  Of course, if you’re not getting in the match, then it’s nice to have a good warm-up!!

    • Warmup might give you the best view as some teams struggle with serve and pass and therefore you don’t see much net play

    • Tough question. Going with the point. 

    • Both, in the practice gym its refining skills in the match its scoring.  But process over outcome is what players should be focused on.  Outcome will take care of itself.
    • I would say both are important but in different ways.  I always want to see how a player will perform in pressure situations during a match because that is a skill in itself.  Not every player is able to handle pressure match situations well so we need to watch matches to determine if they are able to play under those situations.  It is also very important to see a player try new things during warm ups.  It shows that the player is willing to try new things and keep improving.
  9. When you are building your recruiting list, how do you go about adding/tracking players? Do you have a process that you follow?
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Players who contact us directly.  They go to the top of the list.  Recruiting services are usually 2nd or 3rd.  Make sure profiles in University Athlete are correct.  Most recruiting software is based off those profiles.
    • (College) uses Front Rush and I am able to track players that way and using the e-mail account.

    • For us…it’s a big funnel.   Honestly a real big number 100-200 or more that we’ve uncovered or who have reached out to us.  Then a smaller number who have shown interest…then interest enough to apply…to visit…etc.  Until it boils down to 4-5 per year we add to the team.    Lately we track them in FrontRush which helps us with emails and other communication.

    • My staff has it in the system and they give me the info for when I travel

    • We try to get most of the info from university athlete at big tourneys. Then we use front rush or jump forward. 

    • We focus a lot more on players that contact us they just roaming events looking at players.  When we have a specific need we will roam a bit and look at players in those positions and then reach out to their coaches and express our interest.  At that point we would like those players to do their homework on us and if interested reach out to us.
    • There are many steps that go into adding and tracking players on my recruiting list.  One of the main ways for us to add players to our list is to watch them play in club tournaments from January through July.  Club tournaments are the best way for me to see the player in action and evaluate them.  Tracking players on my list can be done the same way in that we watch players at multiple times throughout the club season.  It also does  help when the recruit emails me throughout the club season and sends me video of tournament play.
  10. If you could look a player in the eye before they got involved in the recruiting process and tell them anything, something that they could never forget, What would that be?
    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Just play and have fun.
    • Visit all of the campuses that you are interested in attending.  You should get a gut feeling when you are on a campus that is a good fit for you.  There is a place for everyone and you need to find the one where you will thrive. 

    • Be yourself, be genuine, enjoy the process!!  But, if you’re not interested, that’s OK, be polite and let everyone move on.   If you are interested, let us know!!  Don’t always wait on us…we work with big lists…but we care about you and there’s only one of you!!

    • I would tell them to play hard and realize that you can only make a first impression once. 

    • There is a home for everyone, keep your options open and go for the school that you can afford and that feels like a good fit for you. The volleyball piece should come after all of that!

    • Out work every girl on your team all the time!
    • Find a college that you are in love with.  A school where you are proud to attend and are passionate about.  That can only be determined by you and not by anything else.

A random group of thoughts by a D1 coach:
Two ideas I like. 

1) always cc your recruiting coordinator or coach on any email and include their phone so we can get back to them 

2) start a you tube channel and update regularly with film shows your strengths.  As a recruiter, I subscribe to channels and get regular updates.   For me does not need to be edited except trimmed to sections where you actually play.  If your game film does not show an element of your game, shoot some footage before practice and put it up (maybe you are a middle but never run slides because of a 6/2 system, maybe you are a lib but never gets served).  

I won't go looking for a contact if one is not provided. I will save a link to film, but won't always have time to watch individual update that comes through - if it's on a channel, I can watch a range of matches/dates and catch up on progress.  I will watch about 2 minutes of every film, so hopefully it represents your best efforts.