Assume Nothing and Make Certain the Company and Its People Are Really Serving You

You've worked hard, so make sure the people you work with are legitimate.

When you elect to use a scouting service, do your homework. There are several basic things any recruiting service worth its salt should be capable of doing for you as a client. Before signing a contract or assuming that these items are a part of your “package,” do your best to discover if the company will actually come through for you in this critical stage of your athletic and academic career. Here, then, are the “must-do” things which a scouting company you hire should commit to:

1. Promote you aggressively to college coaches in your sport. Simply posting your data on a Web site will not get the job done. Coaches don’t surf the Web for prospects and they do not take seriously sites which only list a kid’s name alongside a picture and a few tidbits.

2. Be honest with you about your abilities. A good, experienced scout will tell you approximately where you will most likely fit as your signing period approaches. No scout, however, can predict how college coaches will eventually evaluate you in terms of what they might need at your position in your graduating class, or how many other qualified prospects coaches might already be communicating with or actively recruiting.

3. Write an honest scouting report about you. Your scouting report should be an accurate narrative about your athletic, academic and personal qualifications as a potential college recruit and little else. Superfluous adjectives, flowery language and over-worded descriptions may be nice for you, your parents, relatives and friends to read, but coaches will see through that in a second. This approach could even harm your chances with some coaches.

4. See you play in person and be familiar with your game’s pros and cons. If a scout calls you out of the blue and asks you to sign a contract to be promoted, run the other way. This is not scouting. It is little more than an attempt to scarf up your parents’ hard-earned money. A legitimate scout will have seen you play, evaluated your performance, explored your academic background and asked for character references. With this info in hand, a scout can then, and only then, accurately assess if you are a true college prospect.

Create a strong bond with your scout and/or the company's home office.

5. Promote you in a variety of ways to insure no stone goes left unturned. A Web site, a few emails and a mailed or faxed profile will not get you the attention you deserve. You need a well planned marketing effort which encompasses an array of promotional tactics, all of which have shown to have gotten results for previous clients. If you are not receiving this type of full-service promotional implementation, you are wasting your money.

6. Provide support in terms of advice throughout the recruiting process. Sign only when you are assured that you will have quick access to help when it’s required. Of course, any company will profess that they will be at your beck and call, but ask for proof. That should come in the form of recommendations from past and current clients. If a scout really wants to represent your best interests, he or she can offer you the numbers of people to call then and there. Take them up on it.

7. Present your qualifications in an organized, easy to find and read format. The best way to determine this is to ask for a client’s brochure or resume and to examine their Web page. Are they easy to read? If you were a coach, does the data give you a good sense of who this prospect is? Or, is it really a bunch of blah, blah, blah? A company which has its act together will have every prospect’s info well-organized and it will be easy to read. After reading only a little information, you should be getting a good idea of the quality of this prospect.

8. Be honest with college coaches about your abilities, grades and character. One of a scout’s primary duties is to be honest with college coaches about you. Ask the scout what he or she would say to a coach, that is, how can you expect to be described by the scout to college coaches? If you sense that the scout is saying what he or she thinks you need to hear, don’t sign with this scout. On the other hand, if the scout hits you between the eyes with the facts, some of which may not be your best traits, then you will know that if you do the work and reach you potential that this is a person you can count on to help you to succeed.

Signing on with a service is likely to result in a lot of attention from college coaches.

9. Inform you of key recruiting dates and rules. What is the sense of working with a scouting organization if you are not informed in advance of important recruiting issues such as dates and rules? A reliable company will be able to demonstrate how they will keep you regularly informed. If the scout, or recruiting counselor, cannot give you this evidence in a way that you can believe, then it’s likely that you will have a difficult time getting the info on a timely fashion.

10. Offer options when you are confused about the recruiting process and college opportunities. A solid scout will not tell you what to do except in dire circumstances. Instead, he or she will give you options and offer an opinion only after you specifically request it. Why? Scouts cannot always know every situation which you and your family may be going through. You may have preferences which the scout is unaware of but which are key determinants in your decision making process. But, if a scout can offer you alternatives to consider, that is a good sign that he or she has depth of experience which you can count on throughout the process, even to the very end.

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