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Email or Letter?
Which Is Best For the First Contact?

by: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web

Let me first preface this article by saying that this "survey" is far from being accurate. It is more just a "flavor" of the definitive answer to the question:

Which is the best resource to use when making the first contact with a college coach -- Email or a personal letter?

Since the focus of the message board question was about the use of email I decided to test the question by using "email."

I sent 247 email requests to college coaches all over the country. The list includes every "Top 40" NCAA D1 program, smaller D1's, D2 and D3 schools, NAIA and Junior Colleges.

I allowed 10 calendar days for all the responses to come back. I tried to make the question easy to answer, requesting only a simple choice of three responses.

The choices were: Email or Letter or Does Not Matter

My email box was flooded with a grand total of 34 responses!

I know this is the busiest time of the year for a college coach, but I do feel that the lack of response is also an indicator of the "success" a player might have when using email.

The response totals were as follows:

  • Email - 8
  • Letter - 14
  • Does Not Matter - 12

I promised the coaches anonymity in exchange for any comments they might have. Here are a few of the responses:

  • I learned a phrase a long time ago in college, our athletic director made a statement in class:
    but that was before computers ... kids no days send in videos and cd's ... but it is always better to see a player live!

  • Does not matter. Better for player to have his HS or JC coach call for him.

  • The best way for initial contact from an interested player is a letter with some information about the player.

  • We like to see a letter and a video tape of the young man that the coach is talking about. The letter should include his baseball statistics and academic information. We need to see his class rank, ACT/SAT score and his GPA. The video can be homemade and should show the young man in all the baseball skills. By using these two things we can decide what to do from there.

  • Bob - I know you wanted a one-word answer, but I wanted to add my thoughts as well. A personal letter shows more sincere interest. Think about it,you would not want to write 40 or so letters, so the schools you are REALLY interested in would get a hand-written note. The quality of the penmanship is not important. However, spelling and punctuation are very important. After all, the young man is attempting to "sell" himself to a college or university - an educational institution.

    As for e-mail, that is fine, but, again, you can e-mail multiple schools. The personal note indicates a higher degree of interest, in my opinion.

  • I receive many of both letters and e-mails from prospective baseball players. It is impossible to respond to all of them. I read all of them. It is more convenient with e-mails. I print a copy and turn it over to our recruiting coordinator. Answer-----E-Mails

  • A letter is probably better. We do receive alot of email too.

  • We prefer letters, feeling it is less personal when the kid may not be in our plans. Email can sometimes be problematic if the kid doesn't hear what he wants to from us.

  • Either is the same for us. We answer each with a response. Email is less expensive and will likely be our choice in the future, but for now, either way is acceptable. I would guess that some aren't able to respond to each regular mail letter they get because of expense of return mail.

  • For us either is fine as we work hard under Coach to check every lead out though a follow up phone call is key, I think it is also good to have a player and coach both make a follow up call a school than still might not want you but they will know about you and that's all you can do.

  • At our school we like a short letter to the recruiting coordinator, with a short video tape if available ( especially if prospect is from far away )....

    Don't need an MTV production....just ten swings, some ground or fly balls, game footage of a ground out to shortstop where the camera follows the hitter from home to first ( we can time him )...pitchers in the pen, some wind up, some stretch, fastballs and secondary pitch....put the camera behind the catcher so we can see arm action, movement and location.

    Again, no more than 5-7 minutes no matter what position the guy plays.... their goal is to get on the list, and have someone come see them if possible...freshmen, soph, and jrs. should inquire about summer camps to get 4 or 5 days of quality "LOOK".

Okay --- Like I said at the start of this piece, this survey is far from "scientific" or for that matter accurate. It does give everyone an idea of the way college coaches feel about email and first contact.

Email is here to stay and will be the preferred means of recruiting contact in the next few years, I'm just not sure that it is here yet.

If it were me and I wanted to make sure that a college knew of my interest in them I would sit down and hand write a good old fashioned letter. And then follow it up with a phone call.

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