Mastering the Art of Communication with College Coaches

Many young athletes might wonder why their counselors and parents keep highlighting the importance of being able to communicate well. You might think you are competitive athletes who can let their sport do the talking. It is a fair thought, however, just being an achiever in your respective sport is not enough. It is how you speak about these accomplishments and portray yourself is what will help you get admission into college.

Sports teams in U.S. colleges are like families that work together towards a common goal. Their success lies in their harmony and team-work. Therefore, coaches weigh many traits in a recruit before deciding who will join their family. One of the traits is communication and this is a key ingredient because the way you communicate gives the coach an idea about who you are and whether you would fit on their team. Coaches are careful about choosing recruits because they want someone who will add to their team, someone who will keep the team together and simply being a good player is not a ticket on to the team. No coach wants to disturb the equilibrium of their team’s functioning and comradery. After all, we have heard the adage “one rotten apple can spoil the barrel.” And coaches are well-aware of that.

So, what is communication? It includes everything from how firm your handshake is to how you speak about yourself, how you make eye contact, your body language, and even the way you write emails. Any kind of contact you make with somebody classifies as communication. In Asian cultures, we are taught to communicate in a certain way which is different from that of the American culture. Our parents sometimes tell us that we must not make direct eye contact with a person of authority (like a coach) or perhaps they might teach us not to “boast” about our achievements. However, it is a very competitive world where we need to learn the art of representing ourselves in the best light possible without sounding like we are bragging. Americans place importance on values such as confidence and independence. The only way for you to display your values and showcase your achievements sitting so far away is through effective communications.

Here are a few pointers for effective communication with coaches:

  • Be confident yet humble.
  • Be able to introduce yourself with confidence. This is the first impression the coach will have of you, hence it needs to be positive. The way you start off a conversation impacts what the coach thinks of you. Remember, first impressions last!
  • Talk about your achievements openly.
  • If you have played well recently, if your game has improved, if you have topped your class academically- whatever the achievement is, be proud of it and state it. There is no reason to be embarrassed of your accomplishments- you are not boasting rather you are just stating facts. Remember till you don’t tell coaches about your achievements, they will not know and hence, they might think you are not a fit for their college.
  • Don’t bring up negative information.
  • Unless a coach asks you directly, you must not voluntarily mention poor performances. Every athlete has bad days on the field, but you should not portray yourself negatively. A conversation with a coach is like an interview- you must put your best foot forward and speak about the positive highlights of your athletic journey.
  • Be courteous.
  • Be on time; always send a thank you email after a phone call or a meeting; dress well for meetings; practice a firm handshake
  • Format your emails.
  • Since you communicate regularly via email with coaches, check for spellings, formatting and make sure the email has a formal tone. Do not use slang or messy spacing.
  • Be prepared.
  • Last but not the least, schedule a practice call with your AddedSport mentor before your call/meeting with a coach.

-Kanika Minocha, M.Ed., M.A.

Lead Consultant – AddedSport

Psychological Counseling

Columbia University

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