Making a Case for Talking to Parents First

Helicopter Parents (and the more recently identified Bulldozer Parents species) aren’t just harming their student-athlete children, they’re hurting college coaches.

But not in the way college coaches might think.

Parents have caused coaches to not want to communicate with them during the recruiting process, and that certainly includes at the start of the process.

That’s right, parents are causing college coaches to hurt their chances of recruiting their student-athlete…simply through a reputation of over-involvement in their kids’ lives as teenagers.

So when we talk about communicating parents regularly during the recruiting process, we often get a few eye rolls. When we try to make the case for talking to parents first, before a coach talks to to their prospect, we nearly cause riots with some coaches.

Why? You know why: Many parents today will take a mile when you give them an inch, and coaches are afraid that by talking to parents they’ll invite unwanted intrusions into the recruiting process, or even ongoing intrusions into their college programs.

I get it.

But let me make a quick but convincing four-point-case as to why you might want to consider talking to mom and dad first, right at the start of the new recruiting process:

  1. The parents want the chance to talk to you first.

  2. The parents have questions for you.

  3. The prospect doesn’t mind when you talk to them first.

  4. The prospect doesn’t want to have a conversation with you.

Pretty convincing case, right?

Parents are influencing the recruiting process behind the scenes anyway, so it’s making more and more sense to include them right from the start. It’ll impress them when you recognize their important role in the decision making process, and set you apart from other coaches who actively ignore conversations with the parents at the start.

Assuming you’re buying into the concept, here’s how to make it a smooth transition to talking to the parents, while still communicating with recruits during that first contact:

  • Explain where you saw their son or daughter (we covered that in the previous training email).

  • Tell them a little bit about the process, and what you’d like to see happen next in the process.

  • Ask them if they have any questions. Unlike their son or daughter, they’ll actually have some. And when you answer them, it’ll actually help move the process forward.

  • And then, after a great conversation with the parents that improved your chances at moving the process forward, ask, “Hey, before we hang up, can I say hi to <Prospect Name> real quick?” Tell them what you just told your parents, tell them you’ll be talking to them again soon, and ask them if they have any question (spoiler alert: they probably won’t…but you knew that already, didn’t you?).

  • On your next call, contact the student-athlete. You’ll find it goes much more smoothly.

If you don’t believe it’ll work better, test it:

Try the strategy with a recruit or two, and see if it seems to go better and move the process forward right from the start.

Parents can be a huge plus as you start your new contacts, if you approach them correctly at the start. And this is one way to do it.

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