USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting experts provide a recruiting experience that is backed by a money-back guarantee.
For most high school athletes talking to a college coach about a potential scholarship can be nerve-wracking. I get it, you don’t want to say or do anything that might hurt your chances for that scholarship and you might even be wondering if you should ask any questions at all! While I understand the concern, you have to realize that college coaches are people just like you and me. They aren’t psychoanalyzing every word you say, or making mental notes about your grammar. They just want to get to know you as an athlete, a student and a person. They are looking for the athletes who will best fit with their program.
Offering an athletic scholarship to a recruit is a big investment and they want to make an educated decision. Really, their job depends on it.
The best way to make a good impression when talking with a college coach is to be prepared. Since you don’t know when that first phone call might come, you need to get ready now. Write down some questions to ask a coach and be ready to answer any questions he or she might have. When you’re on the phone with a college coach take a deep breath, be respectful, talk slowly and calmly. When you go on a recruiting visit, stand up straight, look the coach in the eye, be confident and polite.
While you certainly don’t want to talk scholarship dollars in the first conversation, most questions you might have are perfectly fine. Your questions will help the coach get to know you. Be sure to ask questions that will help you decide if you’re really interested in their program. Here are some ideas for questions you might have for a college coach.
Questions about the process
Asking a college coach about the recruiting process at his or her school is perfectly fine and in fact, in most instances should be encouraged. If you understand how you will be evaluated, what information the coaches need from you and where you stand in the process, your recruiting journey will be much easier. You may have other questions, but here are my top eight to ask about the recruiting process.
- Would you like the contact information for my current coach?
- Do you need any additional information from me?
- What do need to do to be evaluated by your staff?
- How many roster spots are available my graduation year?
- Will you have a need at my position?
- At this time, do you know where I fit on your recruiting board?
- Have you offered scholarships to other players in my graduating class? At my position?
- Have any other athletes in my class accepted offers?
Questions about academics
Asking questions about the academic aspects of being a student-athlete can only be viewed in a positive light. It shows maturity and it demonstrates the fact that you realize that you are going to college to get an education, in addition to playing your sport. Since academics is the No. 1 tiebreaker between two athletes of similar abilities, asking questions about the academic situation at a school might actually give you an advantage over your competition. Here are my top seven questions to ask a college coach about the academic situation at a program.
- What are the admission requirements for a student-athlete?
- What are some of the most popular majors for athletes on your team?
- Will my major be a problem with the athletic schedule?
- Are tutors available to help with specific courses?
- Does your team have an academic advisor?
- Do most of your players graduate in four years?
- What types of academic scholarships are available?
Questions about what it’s like to be on the team
Finally, the most important questions you can ask are questions about what it’s like to be a member of the team. After all, you will be spending a significant portion of your college life at practice, team meetings and games. You can certainly ask the coaches these questions, but you might also want to ask some of the current players for their perspective. Here are a few questions you might consider on this topic.
- Are the players on your team close with each other?
- Do teammates usually live together? What is the housing situation freshman year?
- Do student-athletes stay on campus during the summer?
- What is a typical day like for a player during the season?
- What are the off-season expectations for players?
- What happens if I get injured?
Here’s the deal
You really need to be prepared before you talk with a college coach. Think about what is important to you and make a list of questions to ask. Make sure the questions will help you make the right decision on which college is the right college for you.