Coach’s Corner: Prepare to Engage with College Coaches

Imagine that you have an upcoming job interview at a Fortune 500 company.  As part of your preparation, you research the company and learn why it is so successful.  You have evaluated your personal strengths, and you are ready to tell the company’s CEO how your talents can be an important asset to their continued success.  Additionally, you prepared a list of questions that help you assess whether this company is the right fit for you.  This preparation will ultimately put you in the best position for a positive interview experience.  Because of your foresight, you will undoubtedly impress the interviewer.  On the contrary, if you are not prepared, you will stumble your way through the interview and ruin your chances early in the process.

College coaches are “interviewing” potential student athletes every day.  Of course they are looking for athletic talent, but they are also evaluating recruits to see if they have the passion and personality to fit the mission of their program.  It is up to you to prepare to engage in conversation with these coaches.  Unlike a scheduled job interview, you need to be ready for a “cold call” from a coach or a random encounter during a recruiting event.  Your personal interactions may make the difference in the recruiting process; therefore it is vital that you are prepared to present yourself in the most positive light. Coaches Corner

Here are some helpful tips that can put you in position to have an effective conversation with college coaches.

Be Positive, Energetic and Humble:  What an honor!  A college coach is interested in you!  Even if you are only moderately interested in the school, you should always show humility and excitement toward the coach.  While bulk letters and emails are quite impersonal, individual contacts are a really big deal.  Through your conversation, be sure to convey your passion for your sport and your eagerness to continue your athletic career at the next level.  Coaches want to recruit intrinsically motivated athletes!

Know Your Athletic Self:  Be prepared to talk about yourself athletically.  Know your strengths.  Have the ability to “rattle off” some key statistics from your latest season.  Be able to talk about your team’s accomplishments.  Know the positions that you see yourself playing in college and how you think you can have an impact on a college team.

Know Your Academic Self:  Know your GPA and standardized test scores.  Coaches will undoubtedly ask you about your academic progress.  Be sure to talk about how you have thrived in this rigorous academic environment here at Norfolk Academy.   Have an idea about what types of majors you would possibly like to study in college.

Keep a List of Coaches and their Information:  As you go through the recruiting process with several schools, it can become easy to mix up coach’s names.  Using the wrong name or the wrong school can be embarrassing and can hinder your chances for recruitment.  Stay organized and keep a running list of the college coach, their school and their contact info.  Enter all of the coach’s names and institutions in your cell phone contacts.

Have a List of Thoughtful Questions Available:  As a college coach is wrapping up their “sales pitch”, there will likely be a chance for you to ask questions.  You should avoid questions that can be considered basic knowledge for that school.  For example, questions like, “Where is your school located?  “What division do you play?”   “What was your record last year?” can all be answered easily by visiting their website.  It is always a good idea to have a few thoughtful questions prepared so that you are not caught off guard.  Below is a sample list of questions that may be right for you to ask the coach.

  • Do I fit in your scheme or style of play?
  • What position do you see me playing at your school?
  • What is the current depth at the position that you see me playing at your school?
  • How are financial aid and/or athletic scholarships awarded at your school?
  • How many of your players graduate in 4 years?
  • What is the overall athletic culture at your school?
  • Is there academic support specifically for athletes?
  • What are some of the popular majors at the school? On the team?
  • Do you have the major that I am interested in?
  • Do the athletes have any connections with other athletic alumni for internships or job placement?
  • Do you think that you and your coaching staff will still be coaching at this school during my four years?
  • Questions for D3:
    • What is the athletic commitment like during the offseason? During the summer?
    • Am I allowed to study abroad?
    • Am I allowed to play a second sport?

Demonstrate Interest and Follow Up:  Even if you are not sure about your interest in a particular college, stay open-minded, especially during initial phases of the recruiting process.  Show sincere interest with the coach by discussing possible visit or evaluation opportunities.   Tell the coach that you are excited to learn a more about their institution and athletic team.  After the contact, be sure to follow up with a quick thank you note or email.

Continued Communication:  Continue to communicate with college coaches throughout the recruiting process.  Do not be afraid to reach out and update college coaches about new athletic accomplishments (becoming captain, making all conference, having a big game, etc.) or academic updates (latest GPA, standardized test score, academic awards, etc.).  Additionally, as the process is winding down and you have made a final decision, it is proper to contact the other coaches directly to let them know how much you appreciate their interest, but you have ultimately decided on a different school.  Coaches will always appreciate your honesty and maturity in this process.

Practice Role Play:  Perform some practice conversations with your Norfolk Academy Coach.  Have your NA coach call you randomly and assume the role of college coach.  Engage in an improvised conversation and see where it takes you.  Afterwards, take time for to debrief so you can refine your strengths and fix your weaknesses.

This is a fun and exciting time in your life.  It is up to you to take full responsibility for your athletic recruiting process.  Be proactive; do not wait for college coaches to come to you.   Reach out to several coaches and build a case for why they should actively recruit you.  Send video links of your highlights, games and skills.  Send an unofficial copy of your academic transcript.  Be sure to visit college campuses and tour as many athletic facilities as possible.  And, of course, be prepared for your “interview” from a college coach at any moment!

Win The Day.

Coach Monninger
Norfolk Academy’s College Counseling Coordinator for Student Athletes
Spring 2016