The Hardest Part Of Recruiting: Telling A Coach You Are Not Interested

Contributor, Rick Paine, is an expert on the college recruiting process. He is also the Director of Swimming at American College Connection (ACC). ACC is a SwimSwam Partner.

One of the Hardest Parts of Recruiting: Telling a Coach That You are not Interested

Having to tell college coaches that you are not interested in their program and school is a nice problem to have, but it is a problem.

For a teenager, having to tell respected adults who have shown great interest in you that their program is not for you is cause for much consternation. This can be one of the most distasteful parts of recruiting for the recruit and the college coach.

  • Keep all of your options open, but if you are absolutely sure that you are not interested in a school, let the coach know right away.
  • Handle it with class.
  • Be sincere and show respect for the coach and program.
  • Keep it short.
  • Coaches are rejected by recruits every year; most will appreciate your honesty.
  • Most coaches will be glad that you informed them of your lack of interest so that they don’t waste their time.
  • Some coaches will ask why you are not interested. Give them sincere and honest answers.
  • Don’t make your parents do your “dirty work”. You will lose the coach’s respect if you try to pass the buck.

Here is an example of how to tactfully let a college coach know you are not interested. If you do it right, the rejected coach will have even more respect for you and you will have gained another fan and supporter.

Dear Coach _______,

I am honored that you think I could compete for your team. I have completed the difficult task of narrowing down my list of schools. Because I have such great respect for you and your program, I feel I must inform you now that I am looking elsewhere to go to school and compete. Thanks for your sincere interest. I wish you and your team much success and I hope we can remain friends.

Don’t copy this word for word. Put it into your own words and send it to coaches as soon as you are sure you are not interested.

This is not fun, but suck it up and get it done. Pat yourself on the back…it is a nice problem to have.


Finding out if you have what it takes to compete in swimming at the college level is easy, and many swimmers do have the potential considering all of the options. Go to and submit a Free Profile.


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3 years ago

If I went on an official visit to a school, I did it over the phone (although I always prayed for voicemail). I (well more like my mother who made me do it) felt like if a school spent money to bring me on a recruiting trip, I owed them a phone call. It’s important to keep positive relationships with these coaches because if you are ever needing to transfer, you want them to still have a positive view of you. Don’t burn bridges. I would reiterate that coaches likely aren’t going to be devastated by your rejection. You may have felt like the treated you as their top recruit, but you likely weren’t. Good recruiters are experts at making… Read more »

Rick Paine
Reply to  dmswim
3 years ago

Great advice. Just do it with Class!

Cale Berkoff
3 years ago

I never knew just how hard and sad it would be to say no