A quick spin around the internet very clearly tells us the two most important ways to develop better relationships are through communication and building trust. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a relationship with your parent, a friend, your future spouse or the college coach you want to play for. If you can’t communicate with that person and you don’t have mutual trust, there really won’t be much of a relationship.
So how do you build a good recruiting relationship with a college coach? It’s not something that happens overnight, but it is something you can develop over the course of the recruiting process. Like any relationship, it starts with communication.
- Make your communication intentional. Don’t call or email a coach just because you’ve been told to do so. Have a plan – you are either communicating to provide information (about tournament schedules, your academic credentials, honors you’ve won, etc.), or to solicit information (about the team dynamic, what the off-season schedule looks like, what the defensive philosophy is, etc.). The best communications however, are a combination of giving information and receiving information (otherwise known as listening). There is nothing more frustrating to a college coach than having a prospect arrange a call or visit and then having nothing to say when it happens. Be prepared. Ask the questions you want answers to. Offer the information the coach needs to determine whether you might be a good fit for their institution.
- Listen to what the coach is saying – and isn’t saying. When you’re speaking with a coach, they will often share valuable information about what they are looking for, what they value in a student-athlete, where they envision their program going, and where they may see you fitting in. Don’t be so focused on asking your next question that you miss the opportunity to follow up on something they have told you. Maybe you asked them what is the most common trait among the players that have been successful playing for them and they respond with “they all have a great work ethic.” Instead of moving to the next question, use this opportunity to tell them about your work ethic and show them you’re likely to be successful there. It’s also important to hear what they aren’t saying. A coach’s body language, tone of voice, and demeanor all provide clues about who they are, how they run their program, and whether their style will be compatible with yours. Don’t ignore this aspect of the process.
- Build trust with coaches you are communicating with. If they ask you to send information, do it in a timely fashion. Prove to them that they can count on you to do what you say you will. Be honest with them about what you are looking for in a college and how you plan to manage the process of selecting a school. The lacrosse community is small and coaches talk to each other. Don’t tell every coach you meet with that her school is your top choice. Being dishonest is the quickest way to get erased from a school’s recruiting list. Being trustworthy during the recruiting process will lay the foundation for your relationship with the coach at the school you ultimately decide to attend.
Developing a good relationship with the coaches who are recruiting you will make your recruiting process more enjoyable and less stressful. But you have to do the work to be a good communicator and develop mutual trust, which takes time and effort. And like anything else, the hard work will be worth it in the end when you end up playing lacrosse at a school that is a good fit for you.