Focus On The Things You Can Control
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Knowing The Rules Of Engagement
You’ve sent multiple emails to the coaching staff of your #1 choice D-I dream school. You can’t wait to hear back from them. You check your email daily. Two months go by, now three. No reply yet. And now you begin to wonder… are my emails even getting through? Why haven’t they gotten back to me??? This is torture!
Communication with coaches can be a bit tricky. Coaches have to not only manage NCAA rules, but time in their schedule to respond or not at all.
You literally you can drive yourself a little crazy trying to read into why you haven’t gotten a response yet.
So, before you bite off all your fingernails or pull your hair out in frustration, here are some tips to managing expectations when trying to communicate with coaches.
Know The Landscape, Communicate Appropriately, Control What You Can.
First, Know The Landscape…
There Are NCAA Rules… Under NCAA rules, D-I coaches are not allowed to engage in regular communication (phone, text, email, social media DM’s, etc.) with recruits or family members until June 15 after the recruits’ grade 10 year (or when finishing grade 10 if after June 15). In-person contacts may not occur until August 1 after the prospects grade 10 year. However, D-I coaches are allowed a one-time response to a recruits’ inquiry where they can advise the recruit/family of NCAA communication rules. Also, D-I coaches may provide their recruiting questionnaire or camp or clinic information at any time.
D-III coaches have no restrictions on electronic communication (phone, text, email, social media DM’s, etc.) with recruits or family members. Face-to-face in-person contacts may not occur until after the prospects grade 10 year is complete.
Coaches are extremely busy… As coaches, we’re extremely busy. For people who think being a college coach means planning practice and just showing up for games, you’d be dead wrong. We manage the entire day-to-day operation of our program. It’s a 24/7, 365 type of commitment. The job doesn’t go away when we leave the office for the day. Programs have limited full-time staffs too. Most D-III programs have 1, may be 2 full-times coaches if they’re lucky. Most if not all D-I programs have between 2-3 (some now 4) full time coaches on staff. Coaches also have lives outside of hockey… relationships to enjoy, friends to see, other interests to take part in. We’re just like everyone else.
Reaching out to coaches is easy… Everyone who runs a showcase or camp and has a recruiting seminar/talk as part of the program – says to reach out and contact coaches. It’s easy. Craft your message and press send. We live in a world of instant gratification. The issue for coaches becomes the sheer volume of inquiries they get from prospective recruits. Additionally, coaches try to balance if that email, DM, or text – is worth responding to right then and there, waiting a bit, or not replying at all.
Second, Communicate Appropriately
An intro email and 1-2 in-season updates before the holidays and after your season has ended, should do the trick. Anything more than that is overkill. Just my opinion though… unless there is a real compelling reason like you changed teams or schools. Don’t be that player (or parent!) who sends an email update after every weekend. It’s not necessary, and quite frankly too much contact is bad form. Intro’s should include a little bit about why you have an interest in the institution, a bit about who you are, the grade you are in, name of your high school and name of the team(s) you play for, your position, your season schedule if you have one. Any academic info like your transcript. Plus–you, your coaches, and parents contact info is imperative. Your In-Season Updates… should be just that. Include how your hockey season and school year are going, any personal triumphs or interesting tidbits about your hockey development, but keep them short and sweet. If sending one at the end of the year, you can include your summer hockey plans so coaches will know where they can see you play.
Control what you can…
You can’t control if a coach responds back to you. But you can control your communication to coaches and most of all – your effort in becoming the best player and student you can be. Which, at the end of the day, is the primary factor in why a coach will reach back out to you – because of how good she or he thinks you are and how you can help their program!
You can control your content – what exactly your messages say – and the frequency of how often your messages are sent. So as hard as it may be, try not to worry if you don’t get a reply. Know that your emails have been received and read–all of them are. Your communication to schools should be looked as a supplement to your hockey development. You might write a great email, but if you can’t play the game, you’ll be tough for coaches to want
And if you do get a reply, be glad you did!
The Bottom Line… There are so many players who want to play college hockey and technology makes it easy for them to reach coaches. Some programs make an effort to reply to everyone who reaches out, others are a bit more selective, and some even take the, ‘Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You’ approach.
At the end of the day, focus on the controllable’s and the communication will become two-sided at some point!
Until Next Time Everyone… Be Well and take Care,
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Grant Kimball is founder and contributing writer at Women’s College Hockey.org and beginning his 4th season as an Assistant Coach with the Yale University women’s hockey program. Grant has developed an experienced perspective in the world of women’s ice hockey, having coached and recruited players from across the globe during his 25+ year amateur and NCAA coaching career. He has coached at 6 NCAA DIII and DI programs in the NCHA (D3), the CHA, WCHA, Hockey East, ECAC, and the Ivy League (DI). Beyond coaching, Grant served as a site representative for the 2019 NCAA quarterfinal of the D-I NCAA Tournament. He also currently serves as an Officer with the American Hockey Coaches Association as Vice President of Membership and sits on the AHCA’s Women’s Hockey Executive Committee.