Courtesy of Mitch Buccalo. Follow: @mit_w_buck
July 1st is a day celebrated by many members in the swimming community. It’s many high schoolers’ first legitimate look into college swimming, a dream and goal many have been pursuing for a long time. Swimmers beam with excitement as they receive calls from coaches. Yes, the day is exciting, but it’s only the start to a long and grueling process.
Athletes need to be prepared going into the recruiting season, because coaches and teams only have a limited amount of time to learn about the athlete. Overall, every recruit’s goal should be to make the best impression on the coach and prospective team as possible. The top five “tools” a recruit can have are as follows:
1. Athletes need to have great communication skills
Nothing drives a person more insane than an infrequent emailer or a person that never calls back. The same applies to coaches, except they have to hunt down fifty kids instead of one. If a coach can’t rely on a recruit to answer emails and calls, he may just give up on that kid and move to the next one.
Communication is also key when conversing with a coach. Strong communicators will ask questions and make comments in conversation, which shows a great level of interest in the program, and coaches love nothing more than a recruit with genuine interest.
2. Coachability is essential
The recruiting process, recruiting trips, and the ultimate signing of an athlete onto a college program is the coach’s investment in an athlete. Like every great investor, coaches want to see their “investments” grow over time. One key way to show positive potential is to be coachable. Listening, asking thoughtful questions, and following advice are tell-tale signs of a coachable athlete.
Most likely, a college coach wont be able to tell if a recruit is coachable by a simple 15 minute conversation, so inevitably the college coach will call any current coaches the athlete has to get a sense of how the kid trains, how they attack workouts, and if they are coachable.
3. A top tier recruit is dedicated…
… to their team, to their coaches, to swimming, to potential colleges, and most importantly to themselves. A dedicated athlete is more likely to succeed, and will thus be a wiser investment for coaches. Coaches want a kid who will bring themselves and the team up. Progress and improvement require dedication, so coaches will look for those athletes that have passion in what they do. The best teams have a sense of unity, which spawns from a dedicated core of athletes.
4. Good Recruits are Athletes, but Better Recruits are Student-Athletes
There’s a reason why student comes before athlete, and that is because most college swimmers will ultimately not reach the professional level. That being said, it is a coach’s job to make sure he is coaching not only the best athletes he can, but also making sure they are gaining the education needed to pursue work after college. This does not necessarily mean recruits need to be the next Einstein; potential student athletes need to recognize the larger purpose of attending college, which is gaining a degree and moving onto work.
This “tool” rehashes on the fact that the coach is not just coaching swimmers but also teaching people. Coaches want to have multi-faceted swimmers that will go on to do successful things with their life. They enjoy nothing more than seeing college kids transform into young adults in the work force.
5. And finally, recruits need to be fast
You were waiting for this one, weren’t you? Times are still an essential part of the process. Coaches want to mold college kids into adults, but all the while claim championships with their team. Potential student athletes that can hop right into the program and score at conference meets are noteworthy to a coach. Times talk in a sport where tenths and hundredths can be the difference between a championship and a runner-up prize.
I hope Coaches read #4. On club teams, some coaches care only about times and not about grades. The coaches don’t realize that a SCHOLAR- Athlete looks better for recruiting and makes for a more well rounded person, also. 99.99% of them are not going to be professional swimmers; and a very small number will get sizable swimming scholarships. Being a strong student will better qualify the swimmer for academic and/or swim scholarships.
Does it seem that #2 is relegated more to kids receiving scholarship? Maybe its just me, but with the four seniors we had this year going on to swim college, this didn’t happen much if at all from the schools they were interested in or being recruited by..