For high-school students with aspirations of playing college sports, it is crucial to connect with college coaches. Many students envision a “He Got Game” scenario, where coaches from around the country aggressively pursue the recruit until they’ve secured a commitment. But for 99% of student-athletes, the process is exactly the opposite: you must take the initiative to form relationships with these coaches. Otherwise, you’ll have heard from few, if any, college coaches by the time graduation rolls around.
So, how can you take the process into your own hands? How can you begin to form these coach relationships? The first, and simplest, step is to email the coach. Depending on what grade you’re in, NCAA regulations may prohibit the coach from responding directly to an email. But regardless of response, it’s important to make contact and get on their radar.
The first step to writing an introductory coach email starts even before sending the email itself! There are three hurdles to clear before sending that note:
- Do research to compile a list of schools in which you’re interested, yet also fit your academic and athletic ability. If you’re a sophomore and still playing junior varsity, for instance, your list of colleges should not just be high-level Division I schools. You need to be realistic about your options in order to get coaches interested in you.
- Find a “personalization fact” about each school. This is something unique to the institution that you find interesting, like their strong business major. When you write your email, you can include this fact, showing the coach that you took time to research their school and program.
- Complete the questionnaire, if applicable. Many (but not all) programs have a “Recruit Questionnaire” on their website, which is a series of background questions about you. If you don’t fill this out, it indicates to the coach that you’re not serious enough to sit down and fill out the questionnaire.
Once those hurdles are cleared, you can begin thinking about composing the email. The key is to create a template for yourself, whereby swapping out the coach name and personalization fact, you can write many emails using the same basic structure. Word to the wise, though – if you’re using your template, triple-check your email to avoid having the wrong coach’s name in there!
Now that you’re ready to create your template, here are some of the key components in an introductory coach email:
- Subject line: Don’t forget about this! It should include your name and graduating year.
- Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself. State your name, where you live and attend high school, and relevant academic information. If the most impressive part of your academic resume is your current GPA, include that. Coaches want to know they’re communicating with a serious student.
- Paragraph 2: Share your personalization fact; why are you reaching out to this school? This is also a good place to note that you’ve completed their Recruit Questionnaire (if they have one).
- Paragraph 3: Let’s get into your athletic accomplishments. What are some of your experiences and highlights? And what are you working to improve as you progress through high school? If you have a private coach or trainer, share what you’re working on with them.
- Paragraph 4: Show off any outside links or videos. Do you have a highlight reel? Link to it here. Do you have short clips that you can attach to an email? Do so. If you don’t have any media like that, feel free to link to a website or article that mentions you.
- Paragraph 5: The most important thing you can do in these emails is say that you’ll continue to keep in touch. Coaches will want to see how much you can improve, but they don’t typically have the time to follow all your results. So, tell them about your upcoming games and promise to stay in touch.
One more important note here: these emails should not be your life story. Coaches receive dozens of emails a day, and don’t have time to read every word. These should be no more than 300 words long. You can always share more information in future emails and phone conversations.
After sending the first batch of emails, take a breath! That’s a big, important step. However, the job is far from over. You should be following up with these schools every few weeks. And if a coach replies to your email, get back to them even sooner than that. This is a significant time commitment, but if you’re passionate about your sport and serious about playing in college, this is a necessary step.
About the Authors
Joe Accordino & Brad Marek, Athlos College Coaching
For more on emailing college coaches and the recruiting process, visit athloscollegecoaching.com or email Joe at email@example.com.