Today I’m going to show you how to choose a sports agent who represents you in the sports world.
When I started thinking about going pro, I was approached by multiple agents who wanted me to join their agencies. Back then I thought that maybe I don’t even need a sports agent – I can find clubs with connections that me or my coaches already have.
Now, having played professional volleyball for almost 6 years, I have realized that without an agent it’s almost impossible to be seen, sign fair contracts or solve problems that may come up.
Agents tend to have a somewhat negative reputation in the sports world. That’s why it might be hard to finally pull the trigger and sign with an agency.
To solve this problem, I cut out all the fancy talk and made an easy list of the main things you should take into consideration when choosing an agent.
What does a sports agent do exactly?
Agents help players, coaches and clubs find each other by growing their network and connecting different people. They make sure players and coaches get paid as much as they’re worth, and deal with any problems that might come up before, during and after their seasons.
In some sports, players may have to save a chunk of their salary to pay the agent for their work, but in volleyball, most agents get paid by clubs directly.
For example, if your agent helps you sign a contract for a yearly salary of 50 000 €, and your agent has stated that they “take” 15% of your salary, then the club that you signed for will pay your agent additional 7500 € for their commission. You will still get all of your 50 000 €.
So it is also in the agent’s best interest to get you as high salary as possible, because in this way they get paid more as well!
Now that we’ve made it clear how agents work, it’s time for me to explain how to get started with one.
Listen to the ground
Your first step in choosing an agent, if no one has come knocking on your door just yet, is to ask your fellow players or coaches who they are working with.
If you have been successful enough to already have a couple of agencies asking about you, way to go! But even in this case, if none of those options seem viable enough, you can still ask around for some opinions. This can give you some reviews from the closest source possible.
Maybe some players have worked with agents that have left them in trouble when they had problems. Maybe some players know agents who are really good communicators, or can understand from a far what you need to progress. Human feedback is the best way to get some recommendations.
From here you can choose 1-2 options to take a closer look into.
Next up, do some research! Most agencies have a website where they showcase their players and where they’re currently playing.
The first thing you should look into is what does their network look like. For sure, the clubs their players play in at this moment can be only the tip of the iceberg, but it can give you an overview of the leagues they work in. If you see teams that seem like the level you want to experience, take that as a good sign.
Another thing to check is their players. What kind of nationalities are they representing, how old are they, how many are there and are there any big names included?
Now, this info can give you a lot – depending how you look at it.
Naturally, it seems tempting to choose the same agent that has Isabelle Haak or Wilfredo Leon in their player’s list. For sure it’s a great sign, because players like this only work with the top people in their area. However, you have to make sure that the agent also has time and interest for you! Superstars are a top priority for them, solely because of their paycheck.
But this coin has two sides. If you want more attention from your agent and you want to be one of the top names in their list, you may risk settling for a smaller network. Same goes for the number of players in the agency. Smaller list means more intimacy and communication, larger list shows a bigger network and more options.
You may want to also check that the list of players is international enough for you. If the agency has only Italian players playing in Italy, and you are coming from Estonia, the agent might not have a lot of experience selling foreigners to this league.
Age is also an important factor. For young players, I would suggest thinking twice when seeing an agency with only players aged 30+ in it’s list. That’s because experienced and older players usually look for something more stable and higher paying, whereas young players can trade a high paycheck for a better experience and learning opportunities.
So in the end, it just depends what you are looking for. As an up-and-coming, talented player who wants to experience top leagues, I would not hesitate to sign with a bigger agency. Most top agents see the potential in their players and will not leave you stranded! In the end, there must be a reason why they have signed big names.
When you have done your research and think that this agent can be for you, it’s time to take real action and contact them!
Mutual vision, crucial vision
Getting tied down to an agency is a commitment. So, it’s important to make sure your views match with the vision of the agent.
There are a couple of key questions to ask your possible future representative.
First up, what is their vision of your upcoming career? What is their honest opinion about your potential and development path?
Because the truth is, it all works out better for both of you if you have similar end goals. Just make sure that their vision seems realistic – promising the world to you may sound fantastic, but I think you know best what your actual potential may be.
It’s just important that the agent believes in that, too! Feel free to talk your goals through with them as well to make matters even more clear.
Another thing to ask about – would they make you sign a contract?
Depending on what you’re looking for and how good your feeling is towards the agent, both answers could satisfy you.
Making you sign a contract is not a red flag. It’s good for a player to have one specific representative, and this way they can really prove their worth and network to you over the course of, let’s say, two years. This is a nice thing to have if stability and security is what you’re looking for.
Some agents, however, don’t ask you to sign a binding contract with them immediately. They might promise you to first find a club for you, to prove their worth this way, and then continue with a contract, or not at all! There are agents who build their business on trust and that is completely fine as well.
Thanks to “Choosing an agent: The Beginner’s Guide”, you don’t need to spend months deciding on a representative. You have everything to start to make an informed decision all in one place.
As written in the guide, being signed under an agent can be largely beneficial to your career. They can help you get the most out of your journey and give advice in tricky situations. And when you make the right decision in an informed way, your sports career will be more successful than you could have imagined!
So if you haven’t made the decision yet – now you have all the tips to make it a good one!