Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Recruiting Lessons from Alec Baldwin


The last few weeks, my man Garrett McCaffrey has been churning out some fantastic interviews over at Swimswam. Recently, he sat down with twelve time NCAA Championship coach Dave Marsh and picked his brain for some recruiting tips. Marsh had some good insight- still, I contend that you can learn just as much about recruiting from Alec Baldwin's movie defining scene in the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross. You know the one I'm talking about:

First, some personal background. I remember seeing this movie when I was very young. I was probably around 9 or 10 years old. My parents had no qualms about taking me to movies with strong language or sexual content. I can recall also seeing "White Men Can't Jump", a movie with some really colorful language, in the theaters. I never forgot this scene-and it's Baldwin's only appearance in the movie.

Watching it today, in between all the taunting of Ed Harris and Jack Lemmon, Baldwin delivers some pretty rock solid advice to a college coach trying to get prospects. The mantra "ABC: Always Be Closing" is perhaps the best. I can't tell you how many college coaches make the mistake of just pushing the ball forward with recruits when they should be closing. When it comes time to actually close, they are frustrated by hard it is. I've found that having a clear goal for every prospect I am talking to and working constantly towards that goal makes recruiting far easier.

Here's some more sage advice from Baldwin:

"Coffee is for closers!". Recruiting is different from sales in one regard: even a total lack of effort and knowledge will be compensated for the fact that there is a seemingly endless pool of kids looking to attend college in the US and looking for a leg up to do so.

"They're sitting out there waiting to give you money- are you going to take it?". I would venture to guess that nearly every school in America ignores swimmers each year that could help their program, swimmers that are just "sitting out there waitiing" to make their team better. When looking at your list of potential recruits, always make sure that you have done a good job evaluating the swimmers who would kill to come to your school but may not look as good on paper as others. If you can identify which of these swimmers has talent, you will get someone who will change the mentality of your program from day one, and the results shortly after that.

That said, I would recommend not humiliating people or swearing liberally as Baldwin does during this scene. Also, do not carry around a set of "brass balls" in your brief case and whisper insults into people's ears. That will definitely not help in recruiting.

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