College Recruiting Teammates & Coaches

College Recruiting: Highlight videos + the worst recruiting emails

Previously: Intro || The recruiting timeline + what to consider || What do coaches look at? || Contacting coaches, pt. 1 ||  Contacting coaches, pt. 2 || Contacting coaches, pt. 3 || Contacting coaches, pt. 4

Highlight videos have become a big thing in the last couple of years but they’re mainly geared towards teams or specific crews to highlight their season, training trips, or specific regattas (Henley, for example…). They can also be useful during the recruiting process too if you take the time to compile some good footage of yourself. All it takes is asking your coach to shoot some video from the launch (of you specifically, meaning the camera is focused on you and you can’t see anyone else other than the rowers directly in front of and behind you) or if you can’t get some on-the-water video, setting your laptop up to record yourself while you row on the erg. Each clip only needs to be about 15-20 seconds long and the video itself doesn’t need to be more than 90 seconds to 2 minutes max.

Some examples of clips that coaches said they like to see are:

Ones shot from the side you row (duh/obviously – i.e. if you’re a port, video shot from the port side)

From directly behind the coxswain so you can see all eight blades (this lets them look at your catch angle and finishes)

Clips of drills (there were no specific drills mentioned but ones like cut-the-cake, top 6 inches, etc. are always good go-to’s)

Slow-motion footage that shows you/your blade going through one full stroke-cycle

By no means is that a complete list either, those are just the ones I remember being specifically mentioned. Additionally, if you participate in any kind of lifting program, getting footage of you doing cleans, deadlifts, etc. are also good because it gives the coaches another opportunity to observe your form. If you don’t know how to do these lifts or don’t do them on a regular basis though, don’t worry about this.

Something else to consider is asking the coach if they would like some video of you rowing and when they would like it. (This also applies to coxswains who want to send along recordings.) I thought this was a good point to bring up because there’s a convenient time to get video and an inconvenient time and giving the coach the opportunity to say “yea, I’d love to see some video but I’m swamped right now while we prep for HOCR – can you send it to me sometime next week?” just shows a good sense of awareness and respect for their time.

For coxswains wanting to compile a highlight video, I’d consider doing something like this (below).

Coxswain highlight reels weren’t brought up during the discussion with the coaches but it’s definitely something I’d encourage you to do in lieu of just sending one or two race recordings. Not only does it let you segment out the parts of each recording that you think showcase you at your best but it also lets you include more footage, thus giving the coaches a more complete idea of who you are as a coxswain. If I were putting something like this together I’d include…

Three to four race clips, 90sec long max (one from the body of a head race, one from the start + first 500m of a sprint race, one from the middle 500m of a different sprint race, and one from the last 500m of another different sprint race)

One or two clips (no more than 90sec max each) of you going through a warmup or drill (preferably both but if I had to choose I’d go with a drill, particularly one that shows off your ability to actually call the drill while providing good, effective feedback at the same time)

One or two clips of practice footage, be it a race piece, steady state, etc.

The video I linked above was almost 10 minutes long which should be fine as long as you’re varying what you include (hence why I posted the examples of clips I’d include). I would also include a “stats” page at the beginning and end like the coxswain in that video did, as well as putting in the description box the times that each new recording starts.

If you don’t have a GoPro then regular recordings are fine but if you do have a GoPro, definitely include some of that footage in there. When I’m watching GoPro video I’m always looking to see if the coxswains are making calls for the things I’m seeing with timing, blade work, set, ratio, positioning on other crews if you’re doing pieces/racing, etc. so whatever footage you use, make sure it shows you doing all of this. Don’t put it in there just because it’s from a GoPro and everyone would rather see actual video over  traditional recordings set against a montage of pictures. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that … it’s just that video from your point of view gives a better indication of how technically sound you are, something that is obviously an important part of being a good coxswain.)

The second part of today’s post is about the worst recruiting emails the coaches have received from prospective recruits. I’ve heard so many good stories about the awful, awful, awful emails kids send but since one of the #1 rules of coaching is “stories told on the launch and/or after hours at the bar stay on the launch/in the bar”, I can’t share them. Suffice it to say though that kids say some dumb shit and yes, you are endlessly mocked for it … in one case, six years later … so just keep that in mind as you start reaching out to coaches. Spell check, proofreading, humility, and common fucking sense are your friends.

Also keep in mind that coaches talk (a lot) so there’s a reasonably good chance that if you’re looking at a certain school and that coach sees the coach of another school that you might also be looking at (think the Ivies or other grouped schools like that), they might say “Hey, have you heard from a kid named ____? Let me tell you about the email he/she sent me last week…”. You’ve been warned.

Ivy League, top-3 men’s lightweight program

The email started off “I’m writing on behalf of my grandson…”. If your parents emailing coaches on your behalf is bad, getting your grandparents to do it (or them doing it on their own) is even worse. I can’t remember how this coach said he responded but it was something to the effect of “please have your grandson email us if he’s interested in our program” and that was it.

Email sent to several Ivy League men’s coaches with ALL THE COACHES included on the email

This email, which was the first email any of these coaches had received from this person, began with “Hello coaches, this time next year I will be rowing for one of your programs…”. I think the coach who brought this one up said this came from a female coxswain, which almost doesn’t surprise me. Almost. Yea, it takes a certain amount of balls to be a female coxswain on a top men’s collegiate team but including 5+ coaches on the same email and then starting it off like that is pretty damn presumptuous and definitely doesn’t convey whatever “confident” tone/message that person probably thought it did. The coach said this was a huge turn-off and needless to say, they didn’t pursue her to join their team.

Emails from parents

Nearly every coach at both NRC and Sparks (meaning men’s and women’s programs from both D1 and D3) said that they’ve had numerous parents email them over the years to talk about how great their kid is, what a great fit they’d be for their program, how much they love the school, etc.  That’s cool … except if your kid really did love the school and really did want to row there they’d probably be taking the initiative to contact the coaches themselves. All this communicates to the coaches is that your parents want you to go to that school, you’re not interested enough to reach out on your own, or both. Do not ask or let your parents email coaches on your behalf. It’s lazy and you’re basically a freaking adult. Do the work yourself and show some interest in the process.

D1 men’s heavyweight program and D1 men’s lightweight program

This apparently is not an uncommon occurrence since I heard one of these stories at Sparks and the other this past spring when I was talking to a coach at IRAs. Basically it goes like this. Kid is looking at Team #1 and Team #2. Kid emails Team #1 and begins the email with “Dear Coach [of Team #2]” and includes mentions of several things related to Team #2 … despite sending the email to the coach of Team #1. Coach of Team #1 forwards email to coach of Team #2 and says “I think this was supposed to go to you”. Coach of Team #2 says “lol delete“. Kid does not get pursued by Team #1 coach or Team #2 coach.

I wish I had some examples of bad emails sent to women’s coaches but luckily for us/unfortunately for the guys, I haven’t heard any … yet. That one from the coxswain though just made me cringe so hard when I heard it so as far as I’m concerned everybody’s even.

Next week: Official and unofficial visits