According to the Washington Post, despite a lack of coaching or recruiting experience, Dan Tudor has built a successful business teaching coaches how to sell their programs to recruits. Some might wonder, why would a college coach who has years of experience coaching, require training in understanding the dynamics of college recruiting? As you will find the recruiting process is a serious take no prisoners business.
Dr. Mark: How long have you been training coaches on the art of recruiting and why?
Mr. Tudor: I started working with college coaches in 2005. Why? They’ve never been trained how to recruit and communicate with the prospects they need for their programs. It’s surprising how little some know about the process of the “sale”, which is really what they are doing: They are selling the idea of playing for them and their program to a 17 year old kid and his or her parents, as well as their coach. And if they don’t know how to do that, they’re going to struggle and have a short, unsuccessful college coaching career. This skill set is the most important they can learn as a college coach…it’s the difference between being a mediocre coach and a great coach.
Dr. Mark: What makes a college recruiter, a great college recruiter?
Mr. Tudor: First, I think that most coaches agree with the idea that if you recruit great players, it’s amazing how good of a coach you become! There’s a little bit of humor in that statement, but also a lot of truth: The great coaches understand that being a great recruiter is much more important than learning even more of the X’s and O’s in their job.
A great recruiter has the same skill sets as a great business owner or sales professional in the non-sports world: They have a plan, they are systematic in the way they approach and sell to new “customers”, and they know how the human mind works through the sale process…in short, they understand why someone “buys” and how to lead them to that point in the sales process. We help college coaches understand how to do that as effectively as possible.
Dr. Mark: Can you give us your thoughts on recruiting websites that offer kids a chance to receive a scholarship?
Mr. Tudor: Exposure websites, such as beRecruited.com and NCSAsports.org are great, in my opinion. It’s another tool for a family to use to get their name and skills in front of coaches, and a great way for coaches to see kids from other parts of the country that they might otherwise overlook.
When my daughter wanted to run competitively in college, she used resources like the ones I’ve described and it set up some great conversations that she would have never had before (she ended up running for the University of Iowa). So for athletes and coaches, I think it’s a great tool. That being said, the athlete still has to have the talent and also be ready to communicate with coaches and put work into the process.
Dr. Mark: What are some of the things parents and student athlete should consider when speaking with college recruiters?
Mr. Tudor: Great question! They need to remember that coaches are going to gravitate to the athletes that reply to their emails, texts and phone calls. The biggest mistake that I see kids and their parents make is to not reply to a college coach because they “haven’t heard of the school” or that the school isn’t in their pre-determined “top three” programs. So, not communicating regularly with coaches and being foolish in how they determine who they are going to talk to ends up really hurting a lot of kids’ chances at competing at the college level.
Dr. Mark: Are coaches concerned with the personal development of athletes? If so, why aren’t college coaches making PPD mandatory year-round?
Mr. Tudor: Of course, college coaches focus on the overall development of a high school athlete. It’s what I call a “tie breaker”. If you take two athletes that are equal in terms of performance, but one has developed as a person academically and personally, it’s a no-brainer: That coach is going to be drawn to the athlete that has developed in a deeper way than just their performance on the court, field, pool or track.
And conversely, a lot of athletes lose opportunities at the next level precisely because of their lack of personal development, or glaring shortfalls in their character or maturity. Once a college coach we work with see’s that a prospect has the athletic ability to perform for them, they immediately start trying to uncover the recruit’s characteristics and personal development depth.
Dr. Mark: Should the well being of a student athlete post graduation, be the coaches responsibility?
Mr. Tudor: Tough question: On the one hand, you could say that it sounds like the right thing to do. On the other hand, the college coach is under pressure to win and do the job at the college…so it’s rare that a coach takes responsibility for one of his or her athletes after they leave the program. Do they love them, root for them, and offer advice and friendship? Absolutely…the vast majority do. But I would stop short of saying that a college coach should be responsible for their athletes after they graduate.
Dr. Mark: As winning continues to become more important, how big will the role of the college recruiter become?
Mr. Tudor: We’re already there: Just like personal development is the tie-breaker that separates one athlete from another, recruiting skills separate one coach from the other. Good recruiters will ALWAYS have a place for themselves on a staff and in college athletics. In some respects, college coaches are fairly equal in their knowledge of the game and how to implement strategy and training techniques. But those coaches that are great recruiters stand out from the crowd and separate themselves quickly from the pack.