There are literally hundreds of questions you could ask college coaches. The more you learn about the recruiting process and scholarships, your list of questions grow. Whether you are just getting started with recruiting or have been communicating with coaches for several months, below is a set of basic questions you need to have answers to. These are the questions you should have answers to from every coach or university you are talking to.
Do not feel like you are asking a coach too many questions. By far I would say athletes and families error on the side of asking too few questions to prospective coaches then too many. Despite what you might think, coaches appreciate the questions from recruits. It shows maturity and that a recruit is taking the recruiting process seriously, both things coaches are looking for when recruiting athletes.
Are you planning on offering me a scholarship?
Talking about scholarships is a touchy subject with coaches because you don’t want to sound like that is all you care about. That said it is something that needs to be addressed because it has major financial implications for a family. You want to understand if a school represents a scholarship opportunity or just a walk-on opportunity? Often the only way to get that answer is asking the coach. Here is a blog that will help you know if it is the right time to talk scholarships.
What are the academic requirements for your university?
Just getting the NCAA minimum doesn’t guarantee you acceptance into a university. Coaches know what it takes to get athletes through their admissions office and you need to know what those requirements are. You want to know what your GPA needs to be, what your ACT or SAT scores should be, whether you need to take the SAT 2 and if you are going need anything else in your admissions packet.
When does your/the head coach’s contract expire?
Coaching changes are an unfortunate reality of college sports and extremely disruptive for everyone involved. If a coach recruiting you is approaching the end of their contract or they are at risks of losing their job, that information needs to factor into your decision. You often won’t get a straight forward answer from a coach at risk of losing their job, but you will be able to get a sense of how comfortable a coach is with their job when you ask them this question.
How would you describe your coaching style?
Each coach will have their own philosophy on how to run a program. You want to be sure your personality matches to that of the coaches. If they are high intensity and loud and you like a more cerebral and low key coach, that school isn’t going to be right for you, even if the scholarship package is great. Additionally, if you are used to training a certain way and the coach has a very different training philosophy; it could be a difficult transition. Not all great coaches are great for all athletes and it is your responsibility as a recruit to make sure you find the coach that is right for you.
How are things like playing time and scholarships determined?
Each program has spoken or unspoken rules when it comes to scholarship versus recruited walk-ons and unrecruited walk-ons. I’ve seen programs that treat starting positions or playing time as an open competition. I have also seen coaches that give a bias to their scholarship athletes and the prospect of getting any significant playing time as a walk-on are slim.
When it comes to scholarships, each year they need to be renewed and you need to know what a coach’s policy is on renewing scholarships. Maybe there are a couple of athletes who are more or less guaranteed to get their scholarship or each year is an open competition where you could lose your scholarship to a teammate or incoming freshman.
This certainly not an exhaustive list of things to ask a college coach, but having an answer to all of these questions from the programs you are interested in will make the decision process easier. In addition, showing the ability to have these types of conversations with a coach will increase your value as a recruit.
Is there anything you think I’ve missed? What other things do think you should know about a coach or a program? You can contact me on Twitter or email me directly on Google+.