The 4 C's of Communication in the Recruiting Process


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As a young athlete begins the 'Recruiting Journey' and begins to navigate the winding roads of the process, it becomes clear early on that 'communication' is the key factor in finding success. Communication channels between (1) the Athlete and the Club Recruiting Coordinator, (2) the Athlete and his/her Parent(s), (3) the College Coach and Recruiting Coordinator, (4) and the Club Coach and the College Coach are all essential to the process.

When communication is not managed properly, it can look a lot like the 'telephone game'. You start out with a simple message and then you pass it along. The goal is for the message to be the same throughout. Somehow, the communication gets misinterpreted along the way and the intended message has now become a misconstrued version of what was originally communicated.

Here are just a few of the unintended results...

  • I was anxious to pass the information on, so I might not have listened the best I could.
  • I got frustrated trying to figure out the message, so I passed along the information the best I could.
  • I changed the message on purpose, because I thought the other person got the message wrong. I changed it to what I thought it should be.
  • I didn't want to pass the message along, because I didn't think the message was correct.
  • I thought the message was hurtful, so I changed the words.
  • Messages change from person to person the more the information is shared.
  • Some people are careful to get the information right and some people aren't.
  • Incorrect information gets passed along all the time.

Communication in regards to recruiting must be CLEAR, CONSISTENT, CANDID AND CONSTRUCTIVE – THE FOUR C'S!  It is my goal as the Recruiting Coordinator to ensure the 'phone game' doesn't take over the process. And you ask, how do I begin to manage the communication between so many participants? It begins with the intention of following the 4 C'S and applying it to all involved (athlete, parents, college coaches & club coaches). It includes all verbal and written communications with all parties throughout the process.

Let's look at how the 4 C'S aid in negating 'telephone game' results and some candid feedback from athletes/parents that are currently engaged in the recruiting process.

CLEAR: easy to perceive, understand, or interpret. The clarity of goals and the process is pivotal as we begin the recruiting journey. It starts with meeting face-to-face with the athlete and their parent(s), providing them with a written agenda/recruiting goals and an outline of our services. We begin with our 'communication tool' (Volleyballrecruits), which allows the athlete, their parent(s), college coaches and myself to share information on the same platform. We can present opportunities to the athletes, tag schools for them to evaluate, give feedback to athletes/parents from college coaches, pre-phone call and unofficial visit info, and follow up on verbal conversations, etc.

"One of the most significant impacts on the recruiting process for our family has been the clarity provided through concise communication. Communication with our Recruiting Coordinator has clarified how our student-athlete can best navigate the process, and ultimately has provided balance amongst all of the demands of academics, volleyball and recruitment." - M. Armstrong, parent, Class of 2018 Munciana Athlete.

CONSISTENT: unchanging in achievement or effect over a period of time. The recruiting process requires a consistent approach over the period the athlete is engaged. Achieving the goal of playing at the collegiate level is a series of both verbal and non-verbal communications, which leads to the building of a cohesive relationship between the athlete and the college coaches. We keep the athlete 'on task' in their communications and interactions with college coaches and assist them in managing the process of phone calls, unofficial visits, updates to coaches, etc.

"What I have learned about the recruiting process is that it is all about managing relationships consistently over time. The communication tools at Munciana are helpful because they keep track of those relationships and when I reached out last. Why I love working with our Recruiting Coordinator so much is because she is there to remind me to make calls and qualifies the needs of the college programs. This has allowed my communications to be much more consistent with universities." – Class of 2018 Munciana Athlete.

CANDID: truthful and straightforward; frank. Being candid is IMPERATIVE in all communications regarding an athlete during the recruiting process. The 'telephone game' can easily take over and wreak havoc as well as jeopardize the future of the athlete's collegiate ambitions, if communications both verbal and written are less than candid! It can also adversely affect the following relationships; College Coach/Recruiting Coordinator/Club, Athlete/College Coach, Athlete/Parent, etc.

As a Recruiting Coordinator, I must present the athlete to the College Coach/Recruiter as straightforward as possible; highlighting both their strengths and weaknesses and presenting an athlete that best fits their program's criteria and needs. In regards to the athlete and their parents, it is crucial to be frank with the athlete on the level they can play at, college coach feedback, areas of improvement and so on. Our Club Director and the athlete's Club Coach provide athletic evaluations and feedback that is conveyed to both the college coach and the athlete. The athlete's self-awareness of their skill level and areas of improvement allow them to focus on their collegiate goals in a realistic and productive manner. In turn, this is a win-win for both the athlete and the college coach that is evaluating them.

"It helps me make the right decisions. The honest opinions guide me in the right direction, which eventually leads me to what schools I should be looking at. You are putting me in a position where I will be successful and comfortable. I appreciate that very much." – Class of 2017 Munciana Athlete.

CONSTRUCTIVE: serving a useful purpose; tending to build up: synonyms: useful · helpful · productive · positive · encouraging. All communication in the recruiting process should be dictated utilizing a 'constructive' mindset with the goal of eliminating the pitfalls of the 'telephone game'. When I communicate with an athlete, I use this criteria when formulating an email message or conversation. Will the information I am sharing be useful or helpful to the athlete in their recruiting process? I must evaluate what is most productive for them in terms of communication to collegiate programs that may or may not be the right fit for them. In turn, communicating with them in a positive and encouraging manner that spurs them on to keep moving forward in their search for the program that best fits all of their needs; academic, level of volleyball program and logistics.

"We now have a constructive framework and it has taken the confusing, complicated and daunting task of recruiting and converted it into a streamlined process. We now have the tools to communicate with schools efficiently. We have removed guesswork and replaced it with knowledge. Working with our Recruiting Coordinator has been incredibly beneficial in our recruiting process." – A. Bostic, Parent – Class of 2019 Munciana Athlete.

The recruiting process is a team effort and a successful team is all about communication!

Patty Costlow is the Recruiting Coordinator for Munciana Volleyball Club in Yorktown, Indiana


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