3 Easy Mistakes to Avoid in the College Recruiting Process

by SwimSwam 12

April 21st, 2015 College, Lifestyle, News

Courtesy of Franco Pacheco. Follow: @fdpache 

Let me begin by offering that I am a college swimming and diving coach and serve as my programs recruiting coordinator. I talk to and e-mail recruits every day and that process ends up being a large portion of what I do when I am not on the deck. As with any person-to-person interaction, it can be incredibly interesting and sometimes trying. You would not believe some of the amusing interactions I have had with potential student athletes. The relationship between the recruiter and the target is a graceful dance that benefits greatly from balance on both ends. Given my personal experience (note: that is the huge disclaimer) here are three things to avoid doing on the recruited side of aisle.

1. Don’t mess up the details

If you are e-mailing or writing a letter to a college, be sure to double check and proofread before you send it. Nothing dissuades a coach’s interest more than seeing a clearly bulk message that happens to mention a different schools name in the body or, even better, is addressed to a coach at a different college. There is nothing wrong with writing one draft of an update of times from a recent meet, but if you are truly interested in the schools you are sending it to, take the time to get the right information on each individual note. Similarly, if you call a coach at a college, make sure you at least know their name. Calling an athletics department general line and asking to speak to “a swim or dive coach” won’t get you too far. Often, the general line is not physically near that coach’s office and without a name, the person answering may have trouble directing you.

2. Don’t fly into a storm blind

As a Division III coach, one of the telling questions we are asked relates to if we offer athletic scholarships. While it is innocent enough, it also shows that you are either in the very early stages of your search or you interest in competing, at least at our college, is minimal. Maybe that is the case, which is totally fine, but remember every introduction is about the first impressions. In our digital age, a quick google search can give you everything you need in two minutes when you are looking at schools. Take the time to read a bit about the program you are contacting prior to reaching out. It will help you smooth over your conversation and, more importantly, it can help you get a better idea if that college is a good fit for you. This could just be me, but nothing is more impressive than when I talk to a recruit and its obvious they know a bit about my team or the conference. It lets me know they have investment in the process and that our interest is a mutual situation. Sometimes, it can be the small things that will separate you from the field of hundreds of other athletes a coach is looking at for your class.

3. Don’t drop off the face of the earth

On the same note as above, coaches can look at hundreds of recruits in the span of a couple days. Of course this next part comes with a situational tag, but standing out can be as easy as being on top of your correspondence. Halting communication and going dark on a coach can send the wrong message. It is absolutely the coach’s job to recruit you, but if it’s a program you are really interested in, be persistent. When you have questions, be sure to ask. When you have any update, even if it is about you really nailing that perfect basket in your underwater basket-weaving class, let that coach know you accomplished something. Never be afraid that you are bothering a coach, it is literally their job to talk to you. A recruit that maintains good contact often stays at the top of the list for attention. This varies from program to program, but we have one coach that focuses on managing our field of recruits. Everyone we contact is incredibly special and we have definite interest but just being sure to keep the line of communication open is helpful to ensure you are constantly on the radar. While I have a personal rule about returning any e-mail and call in 24 hours, some coaches do get busy.

If you haven’t heard from a coach and you feel like you are a good fit for their program, reach out again. As long as you are respectful and cordial, your communication is welcome and will only help your case.

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GREAT INFO!! I have another tip I think that is pertinent….. DO THE WORK YOURSELF. As a college coach I am not impressed when the first contact comes by call or email from mom or dad. This is a bad sign to me. If you are interested as a student-athlete, take the time to make the contact yourself. It will take you less than 5 minutes to draw up a personal email or make a quick call. As mentioned with some of the information above, it shows initiative and that you are sincerely interested.

NM Coach

College Coach,

How about the situation where I am my son’s club coach? I do all of the first contacts for all of my seniors by email to the coach. I’ve done the background as far as are they fast enough to even be considered for a particular program.

Still a red flag?


Absolutely not!! Completely different situation. I appreciate an email introduction listing seniors and providing contact and other information. I don’t even mind communication with the parents after the fact. It goes back to the article’s “first impression” point. When there is a message on my machine that says ” Hello, I am so/so and my son/daughter is a senior swimmer who is interested in your school. Could you please contact us to set up a visit…” something like that, I think, “if they are so interested, why didn’t they contact me?” But, I think you are doing them a great service and it is in a totally different scenario!


YES to everything, including Collegecoach’s comment. And one other thing: if you plan on making an unofficial visit to the school, be sure to contact the coach and set up a time to meet. Don’t just drop in and expect to meet with the coaches, especially not during practice.


Great article. As a former club coach I used to contact several university coaches about my swimmers. Only about half of them ever returned an email.

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