The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
Just the thought of talking to a college coach can be intimidating. Obviously, you don’t want to say or do anything that might hurt your chances for a scholarship. That said, college coaches aren’t psychoanalyzing every word you say, or making mental notes about your posture. They just want to get to know you as an athlete, a student and a person. College coaches take the process of handing out scholarships seriously and they want to make sure you are the kind of student that will represent their school in a positive manner.
You only get one chance at a first impression, so you need to be prepared before you get that first call from a college coach. Take a few minutes and write down questions to ask a coach and try to prepare yourself to answer any questions he or she might have. When you’re on the phone be respectful, talk slowly and calmly. When you go on a recruiting visit, look the coach in the eye, be confident and polite.
In preparation for your first (or your next) conversation with a coach, here are my top 5 questions a college coach might ask and some help with your answers:
1. “How are your grades?”
Many times this will be the first question asked. Academics are a priority for most coaches. They don’t want players who are going to struggle to stay eligible. If your grades aren’t great, let the coaches know that you are taking steps to improve them. Find a tutor and/or consider taking an ACT or SAT review course to improve your academic standing. There have been many athletic scholarships lost because the recruit’s grades and test scores don’t meet the academic requirements at the school making the offer.
2. “What are your strengths and weaknesses as a player?”
This is not the time to be modest. Be confident, but not boastful about your abilities. Give specific examples of your strengths, but don’t overdo it. For example, if you were selected First Team All-District, say something like “I was lucky enough to be selected First Team All-District although there were many other deserving athletes.” College coaches want self-confident, respectful players that will represent their school in the right way. If a coach asks about your weaknesses, answer the question, but don’t dwell on the topic. College coaches know you aren’t perfect and much prefer an athlete that recognizes areas to improve.
3. “What sets you apart from other recruits/players?”
The answer to this question is different for every athlete, but a strong answer can go a long way toward separating you from the competition. Give this question some thought and consider things like academic achievement, attitude and commitment. Explain how you will be an asset for their program. Also, before you talk with a coach know a little bit about their program. If you do, it will show the coach that you have genuine interest in playing there.
4. “What other colleges are recruiting you?”
You always want to make the coach you are talking with feel like they are your top choice, even if they are not. If you are being recruited by other colleges, it’s okay to let them know. If you aren’t currently being recruited, there are many ways to answer this question. For example, you could say “I am just starting to communicate with some schools” or “I am waiting to hear back from several colleges.” Everyone wants to date the popular girl/boy and every coach wants to sign the popular recruit.
5. “Do you have any questions for me?”
Your college decision needs to be an informed decision. To maximize your time with a college coach, write down a list of questions to ask early in the process. Here are a few ideas:
- What information would you like from me?
- How many players are you considering at my position?
- What would I need to do to be evaluated by your staff?
- How many roster spots will be available my graduation year?
- How much emphasis is put on academics?
- When would be a good time to visit your campus?
Prioritize your top five to seven questions and ask as many as the conversation will allow.
Here’s the deal
You need to be prepared before you talk with a college coach. You’ll never know exactly what they might ask, but you should be able to predict some of the questions and be prepared with your answers.