Updated: Jul 20, 2020
I'm not the best communicator in the world. I'm also not the worst. All of us seem to live somewhere in the middle to varying degrees. I know that in recruiting, coaches will always gravitate more towards those athletes they have good or great conversations with over the phone. It is very often something that can make it or break it in the first or second phone call. Poor communication can come off as disinterest from both sides. A coach can be just as guilty in this. Some are not easy or great talking over the phone and it certainly impacts those athletes. But is talking on the phone really a good judge of personality or fit for a program? Most coaches aren't willing to make that decision until an athlete comes out on a visit, but by then we have usually weeded out most of the athletes we didn't have great conversations with. By then there is significantly less risk in the visit going poorly; although they still can of course.
Communication is hard. There is no doubt about that and there is a LOT of pressure on athletes to be great communicators right away on June 15th. I know I have had awful first phone calls with athletes before; but those conversations got better as we got to know each other and figured out how to communicate better with one another. Shouldn't that be the case? That we spend time getting to know a person or athlete, learn how to communicate better with them, learn more about them and try to figure out how make that coach-athlete or athlete-coach relationship work? Every athlete is different and we have to learn how to coach their specific personality-why would communicating with them NOT fall under that same category? We expect that their athletic abilities and intangible qualities will grow during their time in a specific program right? So why do we filter out the poor or less fantastic communicators from the start instead of giving them the chance to grow in that skill just like the others? I don't have an answer to those questions.
We all have different personalities, traits or love languages. We certainly are all going to communicate in different ways. Learning some new ways would be a good thing right? I wonder what it looks like at the end of four years-if a coach is still communicating in the same way to their seniors as they did when that group were freshmen. I wonder if there are any athletes that the coach had a hard time connecting with consistently as a freshmen, but they both grew and figured out how to communicate better with one another. I wonder if there are any athletes that communicated really well with the coach early on, but as their career went on, it got more difficult.
I feel like communication is the hardest part of this whole recruiting process. But what I know I have learned is that almost any form of communication (call, text email) is better than silence. Silence is the killer. Silence can cross a school or an athlete off of a list really quick. Silence is apparently the international sign for "I'm not interested." But I would rather have 100 "Not interested" emails in my inbox then send another 100 emails to get the same non-response. I get the dilemma though, there isn't always time to respond to every single email and for an athlete to tell a school "no" has to be similar to denying a friend request on instagram...it's hard and they don't want to do it.
I think in the end we need to challenge ourselves to be better communicators across the board. A coach wants an athlete to have great communication skills on the very first phone call, but isn't willing to tell another athlete they aren't interested. An athlete will get upset when a school doesn't reach out or doesn't follow them on instagram, but won't respond to a text or an email. I'll say it again, communication is hard. :) For the record I don't mind at all being in the middle; I tell both sides that the other isn't interested regularly and honestly feel that it is part of my role. But I do think that myself, coaches and athletes can strive to work on our communication. I don't think that it should be held against someone during the recruiting process if they struggle with communication. My hope is that we can create better lines of communicating by being silent less.
Sign up for the PRI Newsletter by clicking HERE!
Check out the PRI Talk Podcast by clicking HERE!