September 8, 2010

College Volleyball Phone Etiquette

Ok, so I'm going to be a junior and lots of colleges have started sending me mail and emailing me and I have found a few I'm really interested in. I've heard the thing you have to do when your most interested is call the coach so they know your serious. What do i say when the first pick up, during the conversation and how do i close the conversation?!
Thank you for your help! L.P.

First of all, I hope these colleges have waited until 9/1 to send you these emails, but I doubt it because I received your question before September 1st (but waited until after 9/1 to answer per the NCAA rules). As an aside, this is one area for which I have been very disappointed in my fellow college volleyball coaches - blatantly not following the NCAA rules for e-mails/texts. I have no issue with going through the club or high school coaches to get a player to call a college coach, or find out if they are looking at our school(s), but to just start shooting out e-mails to develop a relationship is becoming way too common.

To your question(s):

1. Coaches do like to know if you are serious about their programs, because there are such a large number athletes very close in talent, that if a player does not respond or provide positive feedback, the college coaches will just move on to the next player on the list.

2. Before initiating a phone call, take a moment to send out or respond with a serious e-mail, provided you have not already done this. Emails are a great way to ask specific questions and to determine if a coach is providing sincere answers, or just giving you coach speak to keep you interested.

3. Before you call a school, you need to do your research on the school. Couple of examples - If you are set on majoring in Graphic Design and your 'favorite' school does not have this major, then this is an issue (majors are listed on the web sites of each school). Or, if you are a setter and the roster currently shows a freshman and sophomore setter, then your 'favorite' school may just be keeping in contact with you as back up recruit (should something happen to their current players).

4. When YOU have reached a comfort level based upon your emails and research, then do call the head volleyball coach of your top schools; it is not rocket science and the majority of college coaches are straight forward, decent folks who do this because of love, not money.

5. In preparation for the call, e-mail the coach to let them know you would like to call them on a certain day, and ask if you could get their cell phone (if you don't have it already), while also confirming a good time to call. You want to make sure you catch the coach at a good time, as opposed to in practice or at the doctor's office. A quick e-mail setting up a call date/time is the way to go.

6. Once you have the call details planned, then just make the call, say "Hi Coach Smith, this is Mary Jones calling from Salem, Oregon." If you have been able to arrange a call date/time, then the head coach will be able to easily guide the call. Again, this is our job (recruiting) and any coach worth their salt and pepper knows how to chat on the phone while providing school and program information.

7. It helps to have a question or two set aside to ask the head volleyball coach about their program or school - i.e., do you have a good Business program, how many scholarship openings do you have for my recruiting class, what is the size of your school, how did the team do last weekend at the tournament, etc.

8. During the course of the conversation, don't be afraid to provide information about yourself to the coach; i.e. our team is 8-1 and I made the all tournament team last tourney, I am taking AP calculus and do you know if your school accepts AP units, our club already had tryouts and I will be playing for Super Duper Club 18 Stupendous this club season.

9. When you are satisfied with the conversation or run out of things to say, just close the conversation by saying, "Thanks for taking the time to talk with me and I wish you the best of luck your next match"; the college coach will/should be courteous and encourage you to call again at any time.

Calling is relatively easy - The hard part is keeping your head in the game and not letting your emotions take over. Unfortunately, not all coaches are as great as they sound on the phone - Some coaches are great recruiters and really bad college coaches. How do you find out who is as good as they sound (and conversely, better than they sound)?

Do your research - Talk with your club coaches, talk with the parents/players of other PSA's that went through this the year before, look at the roster to see how many players transfer each season, look at the assistant coaching staff to see how long they have been there, etc.

Even though every person says, and it is absolutely correct, to choose the school based upon the school and not the coach, this is seldom the case. The emotional connection or comfort zone created by a head coach is the catalyst to secure recruits. Sure, some players understand that the Stanford degree/campus may be better than Tumbleweed State, but the campus does not talk to you, the degree program does not sit at your court for club tournaments on end.

In closing, talking to college coaches can seem intimidating, but it is relatively easy - The tough thing is researching college coaches to determine if they are the real deal.

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