My College Athletic Spreadsheets do not include any coaches’ information. No email addresses for baseball coaches or phone numbers for softball coaches. I occasionally get requests to include the coaches’ email addresses but I have no intention of doing so. Why? Because athletes serious about getting recruited to play in college aren’t going to spam every college coach in their sport.
Just stop and think about the process for a minute or two and you’ll realize some of the problems with spamming coaches. Now if you’re doing a mass email, you’re going with the assumption that the coach will open the email, see your qualifications, and decide to contact you for more information.
Coaches Change Jobs, Colleges Change Affiliations
What all has to happen for the coach to actually respond to the email? The first is that you got the right email address. There are several services out there (here, here, and here) that will sell you college coaches’ contact information and all make some claims as to their reliability. Let’s say the coaches’ email addresses are correct and includes the names as well as their NCAA or NAIA division. So you’re sure that coaches at the level you’ve targeted will get the email.
You can get away with a subject line that doesn’t reference the school since it’s a good idea to put your information there instead. Something like Tom Jones, Prospect, Pitcher, Class of 2024.
But you need to make sure you get the salutation right. That’s the “Dear Coach…” part for those who never write letters. Using a generic “Dear Coach:” isn’t going to cut it. Look at it from the coach’s point of view. If you can’t take the time to get the right name, how serious can you possibly be about the school?
Do You Know How to Mail Merge?
If I added the coaches’ email addresses and names to my spreadsheet, users would have to be able to figure out how to do an email merge to send out the emails with the correct name. (And I couldn’t make any guarantees on accuracy while keeping the price low.) If they’re going to cut and paste, they really have lost most of the advantage of using a database of contacts over looking-up the information on the schools websites.
Yet some of the services that provide such information probably offer a way for you to create emails that will automatically include the names as well as the coaches’ email addresses for you. You click on a division, a geographical area, and the service generates the form for you. So now, hopefully, the coach will read past his name and see what a great find you are.
What happens next? What if the coach doesn’t need anyone at your position? No big deal for you. After all, the coach simply won’t respond. You’re counting on the coaches that are interested in someone at your position.
Then there’s the fact that not all schools in a division compete at the same level. In other words, your stats may be competitive at some schools in the division but significantly below average at others. Again, no big deal for you. Where you’re competitive you figure the coach will contact you.
There’s Something Called Demonstrated Interest
Except that most coaches still want to recruit players who have a genuine interest in their schools. And no matter how great your stats, they probably won’t be enough to overcome the total lack of anything in the email that indicates you know something about the school besides getting the coach’s name right. The reality is that you’re not a blue-chip recruit because if you were, you wouldn’t be spamming coaches now would you?
Again, look at it from the coach’s point of view. If it’s a D3 school with no athletic scholarships, he really has to sell you on the school, the quality of the education, and financial aid. You’re not even mentioning a potential major since you don’t have a clue if it’s available at the school. I met one coach who asked potential recruits why they were interested in a Liberal Arts College. If they couldn’t tell him, he told them to call him back once they knew.
If it’s an equivalency sport at a D1 or D2 school, the situation isn’t that much different. The coach isn’t going to be giving out full-scholarships. It makes sense for him to focus on students with some interest in the school where a partial scholarship is just what is needed to tip the school in the student’s favor. Again, that means that there must be something about the school other than the sport that grabs the player’s attention.
Of course, there are going to be situations where mass emailing coaches works. The coach shows some interest, the player learns some more about the school, and the player is recruited.
What Makes Your Email Different from the Others?
But chances are players will generate more attention from coaches if they first target the schools they’re interested in and know that they’re competitive. That means going to the college’s website and looking up information, including the coaches’ email addresses. And there’s always the risk that some of the coaches at the colleges that would actually be a really great match for you may be put off by generic email messages and use it as a way to narrow down their list of potential recruits.
Given that the vast majority of players are not going to play professional sports, doesn’t it make sense to take the time to find the schools that you want and where you’re wanted as well? That means learning a lot more about the college and the coach before you ever send your first email.
In case you’re wondering what sort of contact information, if any, I include for the colleges on the spreadsheets, it’s the web address for the Net Price Calculator (NPC). Since most athletes aren’t going to be receiving a full-ride scholarship, this should probably be one of the first stops when visiting a college website. You can try a working sample of the spreadsheet by clicking here.