TWO WAYS THIS OFTEN GOES AWRY
1. Coach holds before/after school announcement instead of during mandatory time: Students are late to school, and students leave early. In addition- a majority of students simply won’t show up and ever get to be excited about the message because they never heard the message! It is impossible to build excitement when only 4 students show up for the team meeting after school, but by making it during a mandatory school time allows you to engage the largest possible audience including those who didn’t know they wanted to play rugby until they heard you speak.
2. Coach uses announcements to publicize team and announce it: Students don’t listen to announcements. I didn’t even listen to them all the time! Intercom/school Announcements are an incredibly deflating way to announce anything. Recruitment will fall flat if this is one of the first ways you pub the team. In addition, you do not establish any proximity, cannot sell the opportunity, engage only in a small fraction of your potential audience, and set a poor precedent for how you plan to communicate with your team before it comes into existence.
After the widespread-announcement, you can begin with passive recruitment which is recruitment done without the coaches vocal or visible presence. This can be done by putting color flyers up with examples of current players, asking teachers to publicize the team in class announcements, appropriate use of announcements, asking players to recruit friends and classmates, facebook posts, players snapchat advertisements, posters, and more. You don’t want to abuse any of these methods, but instead use a wide-array (if not all) of the above methods with quality photos, messages, and hooks. This should be done literally the afternoon after the first-widespread announcement for at least a week leading to the first practice or try-out.
Along with the passive recruitment methods, a coach should concurrently use the two next methods of active recruitment: in-person conversations and recommended-calls, but WHO do you engage with? The answer simply involves listening! Two of your three most valuable resources for players will be current players and other coaches. Current players will often tell you who is the most athletic in the school or who they believe has the most potential, but they also can inform you about friends who are considering and you can discuss with more. Other coaches are integral to team success both culturally and recruitment- so framing for recruitment sounds different.
Here are some samples framings of recruitment for other sports coaches:
- I’m looking for any player- but can you recommend me a couple of your players who may not be an all-star but tries hard and is always trying to improve? I’d love to see how rugby can help them become a better player and student.
- Do you have any players who are off during the spring but you want to keep in shape? We would love to give them a fun way to stay in shape and stay ready for X season.
- Do you mind if I come after practice and talk to your girls about the coming rugby season? I know the season is winding down and some are interested- if we can keep them busy, keep them in shape, and make them better athletes I’d love to work together on it.
Lastly, the third, and often overlooked, source of players is teachers and admin. Coaches and players alike both want the best players so the team can reach its full potential which is, in a way, a bit of a selfish motivation. Teachers and admin are third parties which have little to gain from a student playing rugby, therefore their recommendation or suggesting of a student is, implicitly, understood to genuinely be in a good interest of the student with no ulterior motives! It’s worth noting, however, that we’ve had a multitude of students referred to us from reasons like “they need something to motivate then” to “they need something to motivate their academics”. Also, by asking teachers and administrators for students who could help build a culturally strong team (as opposed to just the “best athletes”) helps build rapport with faculty- showing them you are invested not just in making a good team, but also making an academically and behaviorally sound team.
What is said to a potential player is just as important as finding the player however. The conversation, whether a phone call or in-person, should always begin with why you are discussing rugby with them (Mr. Albano recommended you, Terrence said you were interested, Dr. Brown said he thinks you’d be a great player, Coach Lopez said you would probably love rugby). This brings in a third party and opinion outside of just you (clearly on the yes side) and them (thinking about it, certainly playing, not interested, etc.). After this, the conversation will be driven by their level of interest.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of this blog series for examples and guidelines of how the conversation should go after gauging interest! Thanks for reading and for #ChangingTheGame.