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Four Ways to Tell If a Coach Is Recruiting You

Illustration of recruiting board

You’ve received a few pieces of mail from a college coach. Maybe you’ve even talked on the phone once. But after a few weeks of inactivity you can’t help but wonder if the coach is really recruiting you.

Student-athletes commonly question if a coach is really that interested in recruiting them, and sometimes it’s tough to tell. We’ve outlined some of the top ways you might hear from college coaches and how to gauge their interest from that communication. Look at it like a ranking system, starting with actions that indicate the least amount of interest to actions that show the most.

No contact: You’re not on the coach’s radar yet

If you haven’t heard from a coach yet — we’re talking no recruiting questionnaires, no generic brochures from the school — you aren’t getting recruited by that coach. Some athletes mistakenly think that a coach isn’t communicating with them because the NCAA recruiting rules prohibit contact.

However, coaches will find a way to get in touch with recruits they are interested in. They might contact the student-athlete’s high school or club coach as a way to open up communications. Or, they might have the school send generic information.

Your next move: If you haven’t heard from coaches yet, initiate the contact on your end. Send an introductory email and don’t forget to follow up with a call.

Recruiting questionnaires or generic mail: You’re in a large pool of recruits

If you’re a freshman or sophomore receiving recruiting questionnaires or college brochures, you are part of the coach’s initial outreach to athletes in your recruiting class. Coaches will typical start recruiting for a class by sending out recruiting questionnaires or general mail to a large group of athletes who they might be interested in recruiting. Why? They want to see which athletes are actually interested in their school.

Your next move: Fill out the questionnaire or reply to the mail as soon as you can. You need to let the coach know you are interested in their program, so they will continue to evaluate you as a potential recruit.

Camp or showcase invites: You may be on the coach’s list of recruits

Camp invites are some of the trickiest pieces of mail to decipher. Coaches will send out a large number of camp invites, some to athletes that they are actively recruiting and others to athletes in their database. If the coach mentions specifically that they know who you are or that they have watched your highlight video, that’s a good indication you are on their list of recruits to watch. If your invitation is generic, you may be in the larger pool of athletes who aren’t really on their radar yet.

Your next move: You should always respond and thank the coach for the invite, whether you received a generic or personalized invite. If you are planning on attending the camp and you received a more generic invite, make sure you contact the coach before the event. He or she needs to know who you are before the camp.

Emails or social media DMs: You’re likely on the coach’s list of recruits

Emails and DMs are easy ways for coaches to get more information about a recruit. They may ask you for your highlight video, updated stats or the contact information for your current coach. This is a good sign that they are evaluating you as a recruit, and you’re on their list.

Your next move: Reply as promptly as possible and don’t forget to proofread your emails a few times before hitting send. Reading your messages out loud is a great way to catch mistakes. You can also ask a parent or guardian to do a quick check.

Calls and texts: You’re definitely a prospect

Coaches don’t readily give out their personal contact information to recruits. So, if you’re receiving calls, you can feel confident that you are relatively high up on the coach’s list of recruits. However, this isn’t the time to start slacking off in your recruiting — you’re not on the team yet.

Your next move: Keep the moment going by responding to each call and text. It’s easy to become overly casual when texting coaches. Stick to talking about athletics, academics, the school and the team. Always avoid foul language.

Invited on a campus visit: You’re an important recruit

Official visits, or campus visits in which any part is paid for by the school, indicate the strongest interest from college coaches. Coaches are spending money to show off their school and give you the best impression of their campus. Being personally invited for an unofficial visit, or a campus visit financed by your family, is also a definite sign the coach is interested in you as a recruit. Many programs just don’t have the budget to offer officials visits to recruits.

Your next move: Thank the coach for the invite and arrange a time for you to visit the campus with your parents. Prepare your list of questions for the coach ahead of time, and make sure you’re on your best behavior throughout the visit. College coaches will be analyzing how you interact with your parents, the coaching staff and anyone else you may encounter.

The recruiting process is tricky and stressful, and it’s easy to overthink communications with college coaches. Remember: the more personalized the contact from the coach, the higher up you are on their list. If you aren’t receiving the kind of communication you want from a program, proactively reach out to them and show why you would be a great fit.

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