Wednesday, October 28, was National Chocolate Day. This is a real thing – I know because Facebook told me so. Did YOU know it was National Chocolate Day? I didn’t. I think chocolate needs better marketing! I love chocolate and would have jumped at the opportunity to eat more on Wednesday in honor of that auspicious occasion.

Like chocolate, most prospective student-athletes need better marketing, especially when they are first trying to attract a coach’s attention. As a former college coach, I read more than my fair share of “unreadable” emails that did very little to spark my interest or make me want to learn more about the sender. Here are a few tips you can use to better market yourself when initiating your college search process:

  • Choose a good email address, preferably using your name and year of graduation. When possible, you should create an email account to use just for recruiting that you check EVERY day. Don’t use something like laxcutiexoxo@gmail or sexylaxer15@yahoo (these are actual email addresses I have seen!). Doing that will just make a coach laugh and hit the “delete” key. Make sure your display name is your actual name. At least once a week I would get an email from a prospect that didn’t include their name – it forced me to waste time trying to figure it out. Don’t use your parent’s email address. Coaches want to get to know you, the prospect, and they can’t do that unless they are communicating with you. Which leads to my next tip…
  • Write your own emails! By all means have your parent, coach, or guidance counselor help you with editing, but do not let anyone else write on your behalf. First of all, coaches are not dumb – they can tell the difference between the way a 15-18 year old writes and the way an adult does. If a coach thinks your Mom is writing your emails (even if she isn’t), they are going to wonder if you will be able to function on your own in college, which isn’t something you want them to worry about.
  • Think about the content of your email. Write to coaches when you have something to say. That could be a request for information about some aspect of their school or program, providing information they need (academic credentials, references, etc.), or updating them about the events you are attending. Whatever your reason for contacting them, let your personality come through. Don’t go crazy and use teen talk (“Dude where RU recruiting this weekend?), but don’t be afraid to be yourself. They want to know who you are so they can determine whether you would be a good fit for their program beyond just your skill and athletic ability.
  • Remember that first impressions are everything. Make sure the first contact you have with a coach, whether it is the head or an assistant, is a positive interaction. Put your best foot forward. Make sure you provide them with the essential information they need to initiate the recruitment process (name, year of graduation, high school, club team, position and academic snapshot), and ask them for the information you need to learn enough about their institution to figure out if it might be a good match. And make sure you let them know why you are interested in their school (size, location, personal connection to a current player, etc.).

So there you have it – better marketing your initial contact with a coach increases your chances of getting their attention (in a good way) and increases your chances of being recruited. Check back next week to read about the next step in the process, cultivating a recruiting relationship.