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What To Do When Coaches Stop Responding To Emails

It’s a situation you may have found yourself in before:  You’ve been communicating with a coach via email relatively frequently, and suddenly, there is no response.  Why might this be?  And more importantly, what should you do?

In our digital age, it’s easier than ever to communicate with people around the world.  Given this, coaches’ inbox’s are flooded with emails from high schoolers seeking to be recruited.  Thus, the first thing to do when a college coach has not responded to your email is to be patient.  Likely, the coach is either preparing for a game or on the recruiting trail.  Each of these endeavors takes a significant amount of time and takes away from the time the coach has to respond to emails.  Given the busy nature of a coach’s schedule, you cannot expect an immediate response from a coach to a communication attempt.  Therefore, give a coach at least one week to respond to your communication attempt.

What if a week has gone by and you still haven’t heard back?  A Division I mid-major assistant basketball coach shed some light on the process a recruit should follow in this instance.  If a week or more has gone by without any response, a recruit should send one gently worded follow-up email to the coach.  In this email, the recruit should reiterate his or her interest in the program and briefly highlight what the recruit believes he or she could offer the program.  The email should be concise and serve as a gentle reminder that the coach has yet to respond to the previous communication attempt.

It is possible that a recruit still will not hear back from a coach after this second communication attempt.  What then, should a recruit do?  The Division I assistant coach offered two different ideas for recruits facing this situation.  First, the recruit should reach out to the program’s other coaches and staff members.  This would include assistant coaches, video coordinators, graduate assistants and directors of operations.  “A lot of times, the reason why a kid doesn’t hear back from a coach, is because he emailed a coach that is not responsible for recruiting.  Therefore, it’s important for him to reach out to as many people with the program as possible.  By doing this, he ensures that he has reached out to the person in the program who is responsible for recruiting,” the coach said.

Furthermore, the recruit may want to expand his communication attempts beyond email and make telephone calls.  Like email, it is best for the recruit to call several members of the program’s coaching staff, so as to ensure that he or she leaves a message for the person in charge of recruiting.  “If a recruit sends an email and leaves a voice mail  he can be sure that the message was received at some juncture.  If you haven’t heard back via email, leaving a voice mail cannot hurt,” the coach noted.

Another route for recruits to take is to have their coaches contact college programs.  Either high school or travel/competitive coaches can contact a program on behalf of a recruit.  Having a coach contact a program may lead to better communication success for the recruit.  “What recruits need to realize, is that coaches are inundated with communication.  Given this, we have to be selective in who we communicate with, or else we’d spend 24 hours a day communicating with kids and not getting our other jobs done.  When I am prioritizing whose emails or phone calls I return, I always look to respond to a coach’s first.  This is because, if a coach thinks a kid is good enough to play in my program, he is more likely right than a parent or kid—who might be biased—that think they’re good enough to play in my program,” the coach explained.

An additional piece of advice for recruits seeking to hear back from athletic programs, is to communicate efficiently.  Recognizing the level of emails and phone calls a program receives, a recruit should make it as easy as possible for a coach to respond to their emails.  Thus, the recruit should clearly indicate his name, grade level, position, attributes and contact information in the body of an email or in a voice mail.   If an email is sent, the Division I assistant coach noted that he finds it helpful when a recruit includes a link to some of his or her highlight film.  If a link of film is included, the recruit should clearly specify what number he is and at what time in the film the coach can expect to see him or her playing.  “If there is a link in an email to a player’s highlight film, I will always click on it.  If I see something that I like, this will make me more inclined to respond to the player.  However, the best thing a player can do, is to make it as easy as possible for me to spot him or her on the film or to respond,” the coach noted.

Overall, recruits need to be realistic in their communication attempts.  Recruits must honestly evaluate their talent and communicate with the level of program in which their talent level fits.  Because there are a limited number of positions to be filled on a team in a given year, coaches face enormous amounts of communication attempts.  Thus, patience and persistence are crucial to successfully communicating with college athletics programs.

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