Three ways to win in recruiting

written by Erica Quam

How would you fill in the blank to this statement? 

My job would be great…if it weren’t for __________________.

If I surveyed 100 of the coaches, I'd bet 99 of them would answer ‘recruiting.’ One of the biggest challenges the coaches talk about is the recruiting process. So, lately, I’ve been brainstorming ways I can help.

[Recruiting] is getting someone intellectually engaged in a future result that is good for them and getting them to emotionally commit to take action and achieve that result.- (2).png

1. Coaches win in recruiting through mindset.

Most coaches I know hate recruiting. When you take that mindset into one of the most important things you do as a collegiate coach, it's probably not going to get you winning results.

Coaches tell me they hate recruiting...because it's 'salesy'. The truth is most coaches haven't been taught HOW to recruit...so they lack the confidence to do it well.

Recruiting helps your prospective student-athletes achieve their goals and dreams. It offers you an opportunity to share your values, strengths, tools, and resources with student-athletes who will benefit from them. Recruiting is service. It can be a win-win for everyone - when it feels good. When it doesn't feel good, it probably means it isn't the right fit. Pay attention to that feeling. It has to be a good fit for you and for them. 

2. Coaches win in recruiting through consistency.

To win in recruiting you have to be both a pioneer and an engineer. Coaches are great at coaching - in the moment. You love coming up with solutions and ways to help people - on the spot. That's the pioneer piece. Because you are good at this, you also think everything should work that way. 

To win in recruiting you've got to lay the groundwork - before July 1st. You have to be clear on what you offer. Most coaches I know stay so busy they don't ever sit down and take the time to get clear. They just spin their wheels.

Take 30 minutes before July 1st and get really clear on what you do well and what makes you stand out - so you can talk confidently to prospective student-athletes, coaches, and parents. Don't get on a call and blab your way through features...anyone can do that. Articulate the benefits: "This is what we offer and why it's so important." When you do that it feels better and you'll be more confident in your conversations. Recruiting is not about convincing. Sharing the features and benefits of what your program is about gives athletes an opportunity to begin to self-select. The athletes who will be a good fit for your team will be able to envision themselves as part of your program - through all of different avenues of communication - in emails, on the phone, and even through social media.

You also have to take consistent action. Consistent action equals consistent results. You can’t wait for ‘the ideal time’ to make calls. Recruiting depends a lot of competing factors: your timeline vs. their timeline, your schedule vs. their schedule…(plus a few other factors.) Therefore, to be consistent, you need to set up systems. If you don't - things will get left undone and slip through the cracks.

Setting up systems is simply the ability to answer the question (for yourself, your staff, your team, and for recruits)..."this is how it works" in my program: What's the next step? What do they need to do next? What will you do next? Figure out as many things as you can - well in advance - so you're not making decisions on the fly. 

3. Coaches win in recruiting by leading.

To win in recruiting, you have to lead. There are a lot of ways to lead in the recruiting process. Since July 1st is coming up, I'm going to focus specifically on recruiting calls. I’ve asked a few coaches how - specifically - they ‘lead’ the recruiting phone calls they make.  

Their usual response is, “what do you mean, how do I lead? I get on the phone and start talking. I have a few questions I want to ask...and I ask them." 

When I ask how it’s been working for them…here’s a typical response:

"Well, it’s fine I guess. I don’t know really what else I should be doing. Some kids are super chatty. I just ask a question and they do the rest of the talking. Other kids are quiet and barely say anything. It’s like pulling teeth to get them to open up! But at least the call is super short and I can move on to the next person!” 

One of the most important leadership skills coaches can work on in the recruiting process is their own self awareness. (add a link to leadership skills blog post)

The self awareness quadrant is simple tool you can use to be more self aware…before you even pick up the phone! 

THOUGHTS/FEELINGS/WANTS/SENSATIONS - Self Awareness Quadrant

  1. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?
  • What are your thoughts about this upcoming call? 
  • How's your head? What’s your mindset?
  • Are there any stories you’re making up you need to check out?

We’re constantly thinking. We have a stream of thoughts flowing through our heads at all times. It’s important to be mindful of this and know a) your thoughts are just your thoughts - they aren’t real and b) what’s going on in your head that may influence this conversation you’re about to have.

Check in with yourself to just see what’s going on in your head and if there are any assumptions you might need to be aware of before you get on the phone.

2. WHAT ARE YOU FEELING?

  • How are your emotions right now?
  • Are there things going on you need to be aware of to better manage yourself on the call?
  • Do you need a few extra minutes to breathe, go for a short walk, or listen to a song to shift your mood?

We bring our energy with us into our relationships…and recruiting is all about relationships. It’s important to know how you’re feeling in the here and the now - before you get on the call.

There are things in the past that can impact your call and things you have coming up. Simply do a quick check-in with yourself.

If you’re in a HALT situation (hungry, angry, lonely, or tired)…it may be good to try something to shift your mood before you jump on a call.

3. WHAT DO YOU WANT?

  • What are your intentions for the call? Who do you want to be?
  • What’s your goal(s) for the call?
  • What would an ideal outcome be for this call?

Don’t get on a call with a recruit without knowing how you want the call to go. 

When you’re clear about what you desire, you’re more likely to move closer to an ideal outcome. You can even be so bold as to say what that is from the beginning of the conversation. 

These are 17 and 18 year olds who don’t talk on the phone very much these days. They communicate through texting and social media. 

As a coach, you’re the leader of the conversation. So, be ready to step up and lead each call.

This sounds obvious, yet so many coaches walk into recruiting calls without any kind of a plan - other than to “convince” the person they’re talking to that they’re school is really great. 

Leading the conversation means being proactive rather than reactive. Drive the conversation by letting your recruits know your expectations for the call.

4. WHAT SENSATIONS DO YOU NOTICE?

  • Are you jittery and nervous or are you a little sleepy and bored?
  • Is your heart beating really fast or slow?
  • What about your breath?

Our bodies give us a lot of information. Sometimes we aren’t so good at listening to those messages. Take a few seconds and check in with yourself - so that you are better able to manage yourself and meet their level of energy on the call.

What's ONE action step you will take THIS WEEK to win in recruiting this season - after reading this article? Share it in the comments below to set a strong intention for yourself AND for some accountability and support from this community of coaches.


Want help setting up your recruiting system? Schedule your 90-day game plan session with me.