I recently received a question from a parent about online recruiting websites. The question was:
How can joining an “online database” website can enhance my son’s chances in the recruiting process?
I think we all know the kind of website this parent is referring to… there are many of them out there. Students sign up, create an online resume using a template, fill out some preferences for their ideal college program, and then the site algorithm generates a list of potential schools of interest. Students can even contact coaches directly from the website.
From my experience, online recruiting services don't add anything that students can't do on their own. And actually, they can detract. Directly reaching out to coaches via email is often the best approach -- much more personal than reaching out through an online database, and definitely more effective than simply building a profile and hoping coaches find you. Most kids need to be proactive to get on a coach's radar. And coaches love to hear directly from kids (rather than their parents or coaches). When kids lead the outreach and communication, they demonstrate genuine interest, maturity, and self-advocacy, all of which are things that coaches want in their team members. It's also a great opportunity for kids to develop a lot of important personal skills.
The way online recruiting services can add value is by providing kids with a basic resume template and way to reach out to coaches. It's a kind of "entry into the recruiting process", which can be helpful, as this is an overwhelming process and it's hard to know where to start. But there's so much more to it after that.
I work with kids on navigating the whole process -- everything from writing a well-crafted introductory email and concise resume, managing the ongoing communication with coaches (what information to share when, and how to market yourself with humility), preparing for phone calls and visits, building a strong tournament schedule, planning for the SAT, to asking coaches for honest feedback and making a well-informed decision based on your options and goals. Knowing their goals and what they really want is often the hardest part of this process for kids, which is another reason why it can be helpful to have someone helping kids and parents through this process. What I do is much more personal and in-depth than what most online databases offer.
When I work with students, advising takes place via video conference every 2-3 weeks. I meet directly with the student to help him/her feel comfortable and confident moving through the recruiting process and exploring options. I'm not a scout who markets kids to coaches; I'm an advisor who helps kids get more out of their recruiting and college selection process.