“That Coach Mullins is so nice. He seems like a really good coach and he has been great to me throughout the recruiting process. He came and watched me play in Memphis, San Diego, Indianapolis and even did a home visit to meet my family and coach. I don’t know how I am going to tell him that I don’t want to go to his University. I am sure he is going to be very mad and I hate that I have wasted so much of his time and energy. I just prefer the other University, and I know it is better fit for me. But how I am going to tell him. I think I am just going to put it off for another week or two.”

This is a conversation that is happening on in the heads of many players getting as they decide to make a decision as to which college to attend. They are in the final hours of the recruiting process. A process that, for some may have been years in the making. They have developed relationships with several head aswell as assistant coaches and maybe even made some new friends on the teams of the potential colleges on their final list. But a final decision needs to be made.

Please understand that telling a coach NO is almost as good as YES, and here is why.

Coaches are recruiting several players at the same time similar to how you are looking at several college programs in which to take your talents. The coaches and players may have made you feel that you are special and their one and only, but they are making several other players feel the same way, probably right now as you are reading this! It is not that they don’t like you or aren’t genuinely nice people but their world will move on whether you commit to their program or not. They absolutely do not take it personally when you tell them NO. College coaches have suffered more rejection than someone trying to sell encyclopedia’s door to door these days. If they are not hearing the word NO and dealing with rejection on a very consistent basis then they are probably not trying very hard in recruiting.

If coaches do take it personally or are mad because you have chosen another University, then I assure you that you definitely made the right decision! If they take your decision personally then they are not cut out for the world of intercollegiate coaching. The vast majority of coaches will be slightly disappointed but wish you nothing but the best of luck with your college experience and life. As the word NO is passing your lips, or you are beating around the bush with lines like “it is not you, it’s me”, the coach has already moved on and is thinking about their next recruiting move. There is no time to waste. Scholarships are precious, and getting more valuable by the year. Leaving a scholarship offer out there for too long can set a coach back in recruiting as the other players on their list start committing elsewhere.

Wherever you are at in the recruiting process process - whether that it be a few phone calls, text messages or a home visit - if you have made up your mind as to where you want to go, or you know for sure where you definitely won’t be going, then tell the Coach immediately that you are not interested. I know that most coaches will reciprocate, and let you know if they are moving on in recruiting and don’t have any scholarships left to offer.

Lastly, if a coach has invested a lot of time in recruiting you and you have taken a visit to the college or the coach has done a home visit with you, then have the courage and respect to pick up the phone yourself and let the coach know that you won’t be taking their scholarship offer. I know it may feel a little scary, but that is all the more reason to follow through with it. DO NOT send a text message, a snapchat video, a facebook message, or the very worst of all, have your Mommy or Daddy break the bad news. It is YOUR decision so take responsibility for it. If you are in the fortunate position to have several offers, call the coaches that you will be saying NO to first, and save the YES to last. This, in my opinion, is the correct protocol.

The best of luck with your decision and take moment to enjoy the fact that you are on the verge of becoming a collegiate athlete.


Sports fans typically fancy themselves to be true experts in the world of sports, even if they never even played it themselves. They love to share their opinions as to what tactics athletes should adopt, what calls the coaches should have made, who must retire, who should turn pro, who is taking performance enhancing drugs and which coaches should lose their jobs. They love to give adulation and praise to coaches when they win and demonize them when they lose. But Max Landsberg, author of Mastering Coaching, states only “20 percent of learning derives from a coach who cares about an individual’s or team’s learning.” If this is true, even if a coach happens to be the Michael Jordan of coaching, the most they can hope to impact a players progress is around 20%.


I spent 4 years competing as an elite collegiate tennis player and another 12 years coaching college tennis in three different conferences, on both the men’s and women’s side. The landscape of college tennis and college sports in general have changed dramatically since I commenced my playing career over 16 years ago. There is more money and resources available to these student-athletes than ever before and it appears that there has never been a better time to be a student-athlete than today. The quality of coaching, the access to medical care, the extra money available from student assistance funds, the ability to showcase their talents via social media, the internet and on cable television. The list goes on and the college experience I enjoyed in the late 90’s looks very different to how it does today.


Whenever I peek at Facebook, there is some coach posting their teams current ranking, and milking it for every bit of publicity they can get. Settle down Coaches, I did the same thing too! These posts get lots of those wide open mouthed emoji responses and will lead to a nice write up in their college newspaper, but what value do these rankings hold when it comes to deciding which college to choose?


Dear Coach,

 My name is David Mullins and I started playing tennis at the age of 10. It all started when my father took me to a local park and threw some tennis balls to me. Since then…. blah, blah, blah, blah… I cannot tell you how many times I received letters like this from players, telling me their entire tennis history and life successes, both on and off the court. I am here to tell you that college coaches do not care about any of this, well, at least not initially.