Your initial contact letter is often your first chance to make a really powerful first impression with a university coach.
Think of this like a cover letter that goes with your resume. You want to introduce yourself and give enough information to make the coach curious enough to check out your digital resume and highlight video. BUT you need to be careful not to cross the line into too much information.
Keep in mind that coaches are very busy, and they often have hundreds of emails in their inbox, you need to get as much information across in as few words as possible so that they will 1. read to the end of your letter and 2. click the link to see your resume and media. This letter should be short, but include powerful information about you to get them to want to check out your resume and video.
Here are some general guidelines for writing a great initial contact letter…
Format your letter in 4 distinct paragraphs:
- Introduce yourself and describe your athletic experience. Highlight your recent teams, high performance experience, and awards.
- Describe your future career aspirations, and current education information including GPA and Grad year, and your ACT/SAT test scores or expected testing date.
- Describe why you are interested in their team or university (be specific) What qualities are you looking for in a coach and team and why does this team fit with those requirements, talk about your strengths and use some powerful descriptive words that emphasize qualities such as team work, leadership, passion, adaptability.
- Conclude with why you think you would be a good fit with this team, your near future activities (i.e. tournaments or competitions the coach can watch you play at) and information on how to be contacted.
It is ok to write one form letter, but make sure each time you send it out you have personalized it and added specifics that relate to the school and team you are sending it too.
Be sure to check these things before hitting send:
- Make sure to personally address the letter, use the coaches name!
- Make sure you have spelled that coaches name right!
- Make sure you are referencing the correct university
- Make sure you have not started every sentence or paragraph with “I” (I will, I can, I am…)
- Make sure you have included a specific reference to that team or that school i.e. “I was really impressed by your win over xyz university last year, it was really inspirational to watch you come from behind and beat them in overtime” this shows that you are truly interested in their school and the coach will be impressed.
- Make sure you have included the link to your digital resume, let the coach know that they can see all your comprehensive academic and athletic information as well as personal references and highlight video through this link.
DO NOT bring up scholarships in your initial communication with coaches. Your goal should be to communicate what you can provide to their program, get them interested enough to initiate further conversations. They will offer you a scholarship based on your skill and experience if and when they are ready to take that step – but don’t presume you will get offered a scholarship – and never, NEVER lead with this in your initial contact.
Your initial contact letter should come from YOUR email address, and not from mom and dad.
YOU need to spend time to compose this letter NOT your mom or dad, coaches want to develop a relationship with you, as you will be the one on their team.
Plan to send a follow up letter within 4 or 5 days of sending this initial contact letter
Whether or not you have heard a response (and especially if you have not) you will need to follow up to make sure the coach has read your email, and seen your resume. In the followup send your resume link again, let them know you are excited to share your highlight video with them, and ask them a couple questions about their program or school. (use the 50+ questions document to help here) The stronger the relationship you build with this coach, the better the opportunity for you to either be offered a scholarship, or for that coach to recommend you to other coaches in their network. For more information about follow ups, check out the Communication Strategy page