In the world of High School football, a great recruiter can be a huge asset to any football program. Now I’m not talking about going out to other towns and recruiting kids to move in… I’m talking about recruiting from the hallways of your very own school building! I like to think of it as making orange juice. Each orange has a select amount of juice inside. If you were making orange juice, do you simply cut the orange open, tip it over, and shake it to see what comes out? Heck no! You SQUEEZE the heck out of that orange! You may even employ the use of a few tools to be sure you get every last drop of juice out of that sucker.
So why is it that so many of us fall into the trap of just taking what shows up at our doorstep? Oh sure, we will work on those 3-5 great athletes a year in the school that aren’t playing, but are we really putting the full SQUEEZE on our entire school to milk it for all it’s worth? I have to be honest, I’m asking myself these same questions right now! In 2011-12, I failed miserably at recruiting my hallways. It is now a high priority for 2013.
Here are 3 tools I’ve used in the past and are currently becoming an integral part of my plan for recruiting the halls in 2013:
1. Print Media
America knows the importance of media. To sell a product, you have to get it in front of the customer! It’s time for us football coaches to follow suit. Dip into the budget and buy some high quality materials to hang in your hallways. In the past, I’ve put together team posters and hung them in the hallways of the high school and junior highs. Anytime I can get the student body to walk by a poster, and think about how “cool” it is… we’ve had a minor victory for our program. But it’s time to step up my game. Contact the local paper or a photographer that attended your games this year and ask to purchase a few great digital images. Put an art class to work on a poster project, and send them over to a company with some cool products like Schoolpride.com. I’m stepping up my print media game this spring. Mark my words.
2. Mini “Events”
Another great way to plant the seed in a kids head that he just may be able to play football is to hold some sort of mini “event” in the spring. Now the types of events possible are many, but my favorite idea is a spring flag football tournament. In between basketball and baseball season is a small window of opportunity. Your players are free for a short amount of time. How about a one day flag football tournament? However, there is a catch. Only one football player per team! Ha ha! Your boys all think they are better than each other anyway, and they all think they are quarterbacks! Now is their chance to prove it. Leave it to one non-football player to go out and have a banner day or make a Sportscenter catch… and you make have just hooked yourself a new recruit.
Other possible events are a punt, pass, and kick, a skills competition such as races, or a strong man competition. If prizes are available, kids will show.
3. ”The List”
I got the idea for “The List” from a wrestling coach. Shane Cook was the head freshman wrestling coach at Waukegan HS while I was the head freshman coach at Grant HS. Waukegan seemed to be at every freshman event we attended so coaches eventually start talking. I’ll never forget the weigh-in where Shane shared what he considered one of his greatest recruiting tools. He said he would walk the hallways, find kids, and tell them they were on “The List”.
“YOU… you’re on the ‘The List’”, he’d proclaim. He said kids would look at him with big eyes and would leave feeling special. He claimed to recruit many freshman wrestlers this way and his large freshman squads were a testament to his tales. Now I don’t know any more details of Shane’s list, but I know how I incorporated it into my junior high wrestling program years later. I made a list of athletes that I wanted out for my team and posted it outside of my door. I told kids they were on “The List” then worked my tail off to give kids on the list my barrage of recruiting tactics. Letters home, tshirts, morning donuts. I tried to make them feel special. I don’t know from experience, but being recruited has to be a cool feeling. We would nab up to 5 wrestlers a year from “The List”. It’s worth a shot in football.
Article by Coach Albaugh
Nate Albaugh, CEO – Chiefpigskin.com, is the head football coach at Milford-Cissna Park HS in Milford, IL.