Coaches Corner: 8 Ways to Discover Players – RECOMMENDED BY PREP COACHES
#4: High school and AAU coach recommendations, particularly if the prep coach has had success throughout their career or has an established relationship with you
You will need to make daily recruiting calls to prep coaches, and this needs to be a habit you develop quickly. You will likely spend more time on the phone with prep coaches than you will with prospects, start building these relationships today! Within your recruiting regions, pick up the phone to say hello, get recommendations on top underclassmen, talk shop, check on their family/team, etc. You need to set a goal of how many prep coaches you need to reach out to daily, and use these sources to constantly build your “Watch Lists” for each graduating class. You need to develop the “Art of Conversation!”
As a staff, send out requests asking for recommendations and video of top freshmen, sophomores and juniors within your state and within the regions that you want to target.
When making your calls and visits, always focus on the fact that you are building a career. Don’t just call the prep coaches who have the “hot” players now, you need to reach out to and build relationships with coaches across every level. A prep coach may not have a great recruitable player now, but there is a good chance that you will run into them over the next five, ten, fifteen years. Focus on a key region to build a “pipeline” in, and focus daily attention on growing your relationships in the area with ALL coaches, no matter if they have a prospect now or not.
Great recruiters are receptive when any prep coach calls. Prep coaches reach out to recommend a player or they may reach out about philosophy, drills or teaching tools. It’s a good habit for college coaches to accept and return phone calls from any and every prep coach, and great recruiters will if they have the time. Down the road when they actually have a good prospect, prep coaches will remember you, you either treated them with respect or snubbed them.
You can’t spend too much time on the phone with everyone who calls you but at least give all prep coaches a quick call back as a sign of respect.
On the other hand, you will also run into prep coaches who won’t offer any or much help. They may have allegiances to coaches at rival or competitor programs, be wrapped up in politics or are playing dirty — so you need to learn to navigate around them and be prepared for some hesitation. There may be prep coaches who won’t pass along your interest, mail, invitations or assist you with getting transcripts, grades or signatures. Every year I would run across a handful of players who didn’t know our school was interested in them until later in the process because their high school or AAU coaches were unwilling to help provide us with their direct contact info or pass along mail. It’s not uncommon for high school coaches to hide mail from select colleges because they have relationships with coaches at rival universities. Some prep coaches may request that all communication goes through them, not usually a great sign for your program.
For this reason, it’s great to also have relationships with assistant coaches, coordinators, principals, guidance counselors and even secretaries, janitors and security guards. Sometimes you need to find other allies, other than the head coach.
Social media makes getting around this issue much easier than in past years, but remember you can only communicate with prospects directly if they are of age. You need to also work to find direct contact info (cell phones, email addresses, parents info) for prospects who play for prep coaches unwilling to assist. Prospects have the right to be aware of EVERY opportunity available to them, don’t always take a prep coach’s word for it if they tell you the prospect has no interest.
Each extra layer of “people” coaches must get through in order to get to the prospect is just another opportunity for the prospect to be taken advantage of, but it’s a common situation for highly-rated prospects. You may have to call several people to finally get to the player, some prospects have huge circles around them.
Overcome the politics by building great contacts and relationships early in your career, they will be invaluable down the road! Even if you are at a small, unheard-of school now, realize that coworkers and prep coaches will be rising in the profession over the next 10-20 years. You never know where today’s contacts will lead you, no matter where you are starting or where you currently are. Your recruiting career will depend on your relationships with prep coaches—period!