9 mistakes that can ruin an athlete's recruiting chances

By Kailey Harmon | Posted 7/18/2018

There's no perfect checklist for how to have a successful recruiting experience, but there are tips that can help you avoid mistakes you might not even realize you’re making.

Four Next College Student Athlete recruiting coaches offered some advice on what not to do, and how you can maximize the opportunity to play at the college level. Here are the nine uncommon mistakes coaches Renee Barrows, Alison Vincent, AJ Trentini and Joe Leccesi said athletes make.

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1. Being vague when communicating with coaches

When contacting a coach via email, it’s important to ask for feedback. Include a few questions that prompt a reason for them to respond. Include your highlight video along with personal stats and records. Let the coach know your schedule and what events you’ll be in, and ask if they'll attend. Include your and your parents’ contact information. To conclude the message, tell the coach what you'll do next. Don’t leave a loose message like, “Feel free to give me a call if you want to.” Take control and let the coach know what you want, whether it’s follow-up phone call at a specific time or a meet-and-greet on campus.

2. Spending more time on recruiting than improving their game

It’s easy to lose track of time when emailing a bunch of coaches, but it shouldn’t cut into training time. Use your free time to focus on contacting them. Use practice time wisely and train hard so you have something to talk about with the coaches. It’s also important to use your time on school work to boost your GPA and have the grades needed for acceptance at the school you want to play for.

3. Backing off recruiting when injured

Time is a vital component of the recruiting process. So when athletes are injured, sometimes they tend to back away to focus on speeding up their recovery. The problem is there's no rushing an injury. The best thing to do is be honest with coaches. Instead of dwelling on your restrictions, update them on your progress and that you’re eager to return. Your composure in dealing with adversity displays your character and the coach will see that.

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4. Being too proactive

Persistence is important when contacting coaches, but you don’t want to overdo it. You want the coach to notice you, but not as the kid who’s filled their inbox a dozen times in less than a week. After a few tries, let the coach get in contact with you or your coach. Make sure your subject lines in emails are to the point, so the coach knows the purpose. If they’re interested, they'll get back to you.

5. Wearing D-1 blinders

So many athletes have their hearts set on a Division I school. The purpose of recruiting is to find a school that best suits you, so there’s no reason to be passing up Division III, Division II or NAIA opportunities. Oftentimes athletes, much like NCSA recruiting coach Joe Pesseci was, are so focused on going D-I that they lose offers from previously interested schools.

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“I had ignored many great D-II opportunities as well as NAIA and D-III schools for those reasons. When I realized at the end of my senior season that D-I was a stretch for me, I circled back to some of the D-II, D-III and NAIA schools and heard that many had moved on.” Pesseci said. “It worked out well; in my senior year (of college) I was named team captain and received NAIA All-American honors. But I lost a lot of potential opportunities from not being responsive and dismissing other schools because I thought I was better, and (the belief) they would still be around later in the process.”

6. Not educating yourself about the process

Parents are an important part of the recruiting process, too. They need to be educated on how to properly evaluate schools with their child and create realistic expectations. Those who are uninvolved sometimes think college coaches are the ones who reach out, but this usually only happens with elite athletes.

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7. Not staying engaged in the process year-round

The recruiting process is in full swing during football season, but the offseason is where the effort really counts. Don’t lose touch with the coaches after the season is over. Maintain that contact and relationship with them so they don’t lose interest.

8. Not being honest

The coaches will eventually know everything about you, so be transparent with them from the beginning. This includes things like GPA, stats or an injury. If coaches find out you’re being dishonest, it’s likely you'll be dropped from consideration.

9. An entitled attitude

To a coach, there’s no bigger turn-off than an athlete who believes they deserve to be treated a certain way or given something for their work. Humble yourself. Remember there’s always going to be another athlete to take your place, so don’t put your chances at risk.