How Coaches and Athletes Can Align on Recruiting Goals
One of FieldLevel’s core values is that success in recruiting means a great college experience. There are a lot of factors to consider when thinking about colleges, but ultimately, you want your athletes to find the right mutual fit in whatever program they choose. This article will help you work with your athletes and their families to get on the same page about recruiting and maximize the effectiveness of your recruiting strategy.
Recruiting is a team sport — it requires inputs and decisions from athletes, coaches, and families. As a coach, you play a critical role in the recruiting process for your athletes. Part of the process requires you to understand the needs and desires of your athlete, as well as the realities of his or her family situation. The first step on this journey is to have a recruiting alignment meeting.
What is a Recruiting Alignment Meeting?
A recruiting alignment meeting is a recruiting process checkpoint designed to get you, your athlete, and their family on the same page about the approach to the recruiting process.
Why Should I Have a Recruiting Alignment Meeting?
It is important that you, your athlete, and their family are all aware of everybody’s goals in the recruiting process. This way, you are armed with the information you need to promote your athlete to the right places. It also ensures everyone knows their role in the process and that no one wastes time along the way (including college coaches).
Which Athletes Should I Have Recruiting Alignment Meetings with?
To determine who you need to have a recruiting alignment meeting with, you first need to know which of your athletes want to play at the next level. Posing this question to all of your athletes is important because you will want to give everyone the chance to consider if this is a goal that they have. This question can even serve to motivate athletes to perform better who might be unsure about their future.
After you know who has the desire to continue playing, follow up with these athletes individually. You may also want to follow up with athletes who did not speak up. Athletes who you believe can play at the next level might not believe in themselves, so approaching them individually will let them know that they have options to consider for their futures.
In this individual follow-up meeting, start the conversation about the recruiting process and encourage them to speak with their family about it. We suggest you give them a document with a list of questions on it to talk over with their family. For your convenience, we have attached a PDF document throughout this article that you can provide to them. Once your athlete reviews this document with their family, schedule another meeting to get aligned — this time with your athlete and their family.
RECRUITING ALIGNMENT MEETING AGENDA
During the recruiting alignment meeting with your athlete and their family, there are nine items that we feel are important to discuss. You can find more information about each item below and you can download our Athlete and Parent Alignment Meeting Worksheet to give to each interested athlete.
As a coach, it is important to know at which competition level your athletes aspire to play. Whether or not you’re on the same page right now, it’s important to have this discussion to set expectations and determine areas of growth. If you’re not on the same page, suggest they watch games or videos from different competition levels and ask how they might compare themselves to these players. Be encouraging, present some options to them, and emphasize that, while not everyone can play DI, it’s still very impressive to play in college. For some more information about each level, read this article about different levels of play here.
Questions to ask — What level do you want to play in college? Do you think this level is the best fit for you?
Depending on what sport you coach, it might be valuable to discuss what positions your athletes want to play at the next level. Oftentimes, athletes play positions in high school that won’t necessarily suit them at the collegiate level. Their physicality or skill level might translate better to a different position in college, so this is a possibility you should talk about. Let them know there are options when it comes to determining their position in college and try to work out a plan for how you will promote them to colleges in whatever position you both determine is best.
Questions to ask — What is the best positional fit for you in college? Is this different from what you play now?
Once you know more information about what levels and positions your athletes are interested in playing, discuss how your athletes should fit into the schemes of different programs based on the methods in which they play. This conversation will look different based on what sport you coach, but knowing what kinds of needs your athletes can meet for colleges will help you find the right fit for them. Getting their input here about what kind of players they think they are will help you advocate for them in conversations with different coaches.
Questions to ask — How do you play your position? How do you see this method of play fitting into a college team?
To be able to promote your athletes, you have to know their GPA’s and standardized test scores. Some programs have minimum academic requirements for eligibility or admission while others might only provide academic scholarships. For these reasons, it is vital you find out their academic standings so you can send them to places where they will feel comfortable athletically and academically.
Questions to ask — What is your GPA and what are your standardized test scores?
Athletes usually have an idea in mind about where they want to go geographically for college. Ask your athletes to consider if they want to live in big cities or small towns, if they want to be close to home or far away, if they want to be in-state or out-of-state, or if they have family in certain areas of the country. You also need to know where their family feels comfortable sending their child. Taking both viewpoints into consideration, try and come to some consensus about geographic areas where you will promote them.
Questions to ask — Where do you want to go to college, geographically? Do you, as a parent, feel comfortable sending your child there?
Knowing the majors your athletes might want to pursue can help you narrow down places. Emphasize they do not need to know exactly what they want to major in but encourage them to start thinking about it to explore both the athletic and the academic fit of potential programs.
Questions to ask — What do you want to major in? Do you have a general field of study you might want to pursue?
You’ll want to know if your athletes have any other extracurricular interests they want to pursue in college. Hobbies, such as fishing, photography, or cooking, are great conversation starters. These interests may be shared by college coaches and could provide great opportunities for your athletes and potential coaches to connect.
Some interests like studying abroad, religious activities, and personal circumstances might require more time outside of sports. Highlight to your athletes there isn’t anything wrong with any of their interests, but that they are important things to tell college coaches — we don’t want them to be blindsided by other interests.
Questions to ask — Are there any extracurricular interests that you have or might want to pursue in college? Will any of these take away time from playing your sport?
Discussing finances with families can be a sensitive topic but an essential part of the process. You do not need to know detailed financial information about families but it is important to know if there are any financial parameters or barriers. This way, you can promote your athletes to places that are feasible for families and offer financial aid that suits their needs. This is also a great time to educate your athletes and their families about scholarships that are available and financial aid opportunities based on level of play. For more information about financial aid at different levels, read our article here.
Questions to ask — About how much are you willing to spend on the expenses associated with playing in college? Do you expect to receive scholarships or financial aid?
Current Recruiting Efforts
Finally, you should discuss what actions your athletes and their families have already taken so far in recruiting. If they’ve been reaching out to college coaches directly or utilizing any resources to guide them through the process, it’s important to know if this is the best plan and establish how you can all work collaboratively going forward.
If you are comfortable, this is the time to reassure families that college coaches want to hear from the coaches who work directly with athletes. Coaches are one of the most valuable resources for college coaches when it comes to learning about potential recruits. Encourage families to support both their kids as well as their coaches throughout the recruiting process.
This is also a great time to go over what your athletes’ families can be doing to help in the process. They should make sure their athletes have complete profiles on FieldLevel, they have the right videos, and they are responding promptly to any messages from coaches. Additionally, they should make sure all college and financial aid applications are being filled out correctly and on time. This way, you can focus on actually promoting them to colleges while keeping the families actively involved in the recruiting process.
Questions to ask — Do you have a recruiting plan? Are you using any resources to help guide you through the recruiting process? Have you been in contact with any college coaches?
Once your recruiting alignment meetings have taken place, there are a few things you should do. First, have your athletes explore different schools with consideration for their needs and desires. By the end of this process, they should have a list of 10-25 target schools that interest them. Once you have their target schools, you can take your next steps.
Connect With Coaches at the Right Schools
Now that you have the list of 10-25 target schools, see what connections you have and what connections you can make on their behalf. This should be considerably easier for you to do now that you and your athletes are on the same page.
Promote to the Right Places
Once you have those connections, promote your athletes to places that match up with what they want at the next level. Make sure that you have written recent evaluations for your athletes and discuss your athletes’ goals with college coaches. Try to find a few programs that would be a good mutual fit between your athletes and college coaches.
Keep Open Lines of Communication
Most importantly, keep having discussions with your athletes about their goals and what might be realistic for their futures. Circumstances change and it is important that you continue to communicate about what they want and where they might best fit in at the next level.
If you have any questions about how to approach these meetings or how to have these difficult conversations with your athletes, feel free to reach out to the FieldLevel support team — we are here to help you.
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