Three of the top things that keep college coaches from recruiting an athlete that they’ve been looking at are inappropriate social media posts, negative comments about his or her teammates and coaches, and, get this, parents! What you, as a parent, say or refrain from saying, what you ask or don’t ask could cost your child a spot on the college team roster.
Parents’ questions for college coaches should always be asked by the student. The parent’s job is to prepare the athlete and allow them to do the talking. If you’re a parent, remember it’s your student who is getting recruited, not you. There is no reason for you to communicate with the coach.
In addition to parents abstaining from asking college coaches questions, it would be beneficial if parents identified their own personal and social tendencies. If you tend to be overbearing or even very talkative, you may overshadow your student.
Likewise, when you do things that the athlete should be doing on their own, you send a message that the student is incapable. By dialing down your hype and taking the back seat so your athlete can be the driver, you’re stacking the odds in your student’s favor.
Can Parent’s Talk To College Coaches?
Parents can talk to college coaches, but why would they need to?
What would they feel the urge to ask that their student couldn’t?
As a parent, your primary role is to be behind the scenes, giving suggestions to your students as they create emails and make phone calls. This is not to say that you should avoid getting involved.
Quite the opposite.
You must guide and encourage your student, and you may even need to give them the proverbial kick in the pants to get them moving. But ultimately, what’s communicated to the coach is in the hands of the athlete.
What Are Good Questions To Ask A College Coach?
So, what questions should be asked by the student? If your son (or daughter) is like my son, who was recruited to run track in college last year, it’s like herding cats to get him to email or call a coach.
My son, as a high schooler, was always on his own time, and when I began to panic because he wasn’t responding to a coach’s email, he dug his heels in even deeper, confident that there was no reason to rush. He believed coaches would notice him or find him.
The tricky truth is that your student does need to contact coaches at the colleges he is interested in.
And you, the parent, should not. Technically, you can.
But that would most likely ruin your student’s chance of being recruited. This means you have to get creative. You know your child better than anyone.
What is it that prompts them to act? To get things done?
In our family, my taking a few deep breaths and stepping back is what worked with our older son. When it’s his idea and his timing, he does what he needs to and does it well.
So, resist the urge to take complete control and talk to the college coach yourself. If your student wants to play sports in college, they’ll need to step up and do the communicating themselves.
You are their cheerleader, their biggest fan, occasionally checking in and asking how you can help. Have an adult conversation with them, informing them that these days, reaching out and/or responding to a coach is a must if they hope to be recruited.
If they remain silent when contacted by a college coach, the coach, who is dealing with sometimes hundreds of potential athletes, will lose interest and move on to the next athlete on their list. The idea that coaches will simply find you is outdated.
You’ve got to make the first move.
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What Do College Coaches Look For In Parents?
Believe it or not, college coaches are looking at parents. They aren’t anti-parent, and most welcome a moderately involved parent. But they notice how you act.
The following actions send up red flags to coaches about parents:
- The parent talks over the athlete during the college visit.
- The emails they receive look like they were written by an adult.
- They get a phone call from the student’s parents.
- They notice, while visiting the student’s high school game, that the parent is out of control in the bleachers.
- The parent raves about the student, claiming to be objective as his coach.
6 Good Questions To Ask At A College Athletic Visit
There are a number of important questions you, the athlete, should ask your prospective college coach. It may feel awkward or even overwhelming to make a phone call since you’re more accustomed to texting, but it’s the best way to contact the coach who is often quite a bit older than you.
Once you’ve established a relationship and the coach offers his cell number, texting is more appropriate.
The secret to a positive conversation with a coach is being prepared. If you’ve got mental notes to refer to, you’ll be able to comfortably engage in conversation. Begin by letting the coach carry the conversation and ask his questions. Eventually, he may ask you if you have any questions.
At that point, you’ll want to avoid the ones on your list that you’ve already covered in your conversation. Choose 2 or 3 of the remaining questions that you’re still curious about. Below are six of the most common.
Are you recruiting for my position?
This is a popular question. And if you’ve done your homework, you already know the players on their team by name, what position each plays, and if they’re close to graduation and about to free up a spot or not.
So, you may want to alter this question a bit to something like.
I see that both of your shortstops are graduating in the Spring. Are you looking to recruit a new shortstop?
You could then ask what the timeline is for recruiting your position and lapse into a natural conversationfrom there. You could also ask them what they are looking for in a player for your position.
What student-athlete services does your college offer?
This question could refer to everything from housing requirements to laundry to tutoring opportunities.
What are the values of your program?
This is another question that you may already know the answer to, so tweaking it a bit to show that you’ve spent time researching their program might look something like this.
I was recently listening to a podcast you were on, and I loved your ideas about team chemistry and how the strength of relationships correlates with success on the field. What other values are important in your program?
What are the academic expectations of players?
It’s important for you to know the expected GPA that you’ll need to maintain while you’re playing college sports and what the academic culture is on the team.
How does your college (or program) support players when they miss class for games?
This is a legitimate question. My son is a Freshman at Westmont College, and he qualified for the NAIA Indoor Track National Championships in South Dakota which meant he had to miss four days of classes, due to travel time. Fortunately, his coaches are in close contact with the college’s professors and a support system is in place.
What are the next steps in your recruiting process with your program?
This is always a nice way to end the conversation. When you ask this question, you’ll learn what steps you need to take to get organized with your recruiting efforts. It also communicates that you’re serious about doing what is needed to become a part of their team.
6 Common Questions Coaches Ask Recruits
Remember that just like college admissions counselors, coaches are real people too.
So, when in an interview or on a phone call, just be yourself. Authenticity will take you far. If you’re the student, sit down with a parent, coach, or mentor and discuss how you might answer the following questions. You may not be asked any of them, but it’s always better to be prepared.
How are your grades?
This may be a surprise to you, but grades matter to coaches. Since grades are important to colleges, coaches know that poor grades and failed classes mean ineligibility for the athlete.
They usually do not want to risk taking you on if you’re not going to be able to keep up with the rigor of the college’s courses. If you’ve had extenuating circumstances that have prevented you from maintaining a suitable GPA, now’s the time to explain.
Let the coach know your plans to improve, and map out the steps you’re taking to get back on track. If you do get recruited despite bad grades, you most likely will not get an athletic scholarship.
Those are typically reserved for student-athletes who can perform both inside the classroom and on the court, in the field, or on the track.
What other colleges are recruiting you?
If you’re being recruited by other competitive colleges, this is your chance to name drop and present yourself as an athlete that is desired and sought after.
But at the same time, it’s important to let the coach know that he’s your top choice. It’s okay to say, I’ve got several schools looking at me and leave it at that.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as an athlete?
The answer to this question depends on the player, of course, but this is your opportunity to shine. Be confident but not over the top as you describe your strengths.
A humble approach might be something like this.
I’m a team player and was lucky enough to be chosen to be captain. My coach says that the team gels when I get on the field, that I bring unity and team spirit.
It’s okay to mention a weakness, but don’t spend a lot of time on that.
What type of scholarship are you looking for?
You may or may not be offered a scholarship, but you don’t want to be blindsided by the question if you are, like my son was. Fortunately, he was able to quickly regain his composure and do the math in his head before he threw out a number.
You don’t want to botch up your response just because the question is unexpected. College coaches are willing to negotiate scholarship amounts, so be ready with an amount in case they ask.
What things are you looking for most in a college?
You’ll need to do your homework here. In fact, do not go to a college visit or have a phone call with a college coach until you’ve researched the school and are familiar with what is unique and attractive to you about them as an institution. Your answer doesn’t need to be fancy, but specifics help. Things like location, size, and special programs would suffice.
What are your interests outside of sports?
Again, coaches are human. They too have a life off the field, track, or courts. And most are interested in developing a relationship with you on a personal level. They understand that you’ve spent a significant amount of your time practicing your sport, but if you play the guitar or love to camp or fly fish, this is where you get the chance to talk about that.
Questions to Ask a College Coach Before Committing
So, you’ve been recruited, and you’ve navigated the phone calls and interviews successfully. You’ve chosen the college, and you’re ready to commit. What are some final questions you should ask before you sign on the dotted line?
There’s a solid chance you’ve already talked about everything there is to discuss, at least all that matters to you, or you probably wouldn’t be ready to commit. If none of the questions listed above in this article seem appropriate at this point in time, pivot to finances and scholarships. This may be the perfect time to ask questions like:
- What happens to my scholarship if I’m injured?
- What medical expenses does the college cover?
- What kind of on-campus work study is available?
- Do you athletes have jobs in season?
- How do you determine the annual renewal of scholarship?
Simply put, there are no appropriate questions for parents to ask college coaches. None. Parents are to play second fiddle while their student-athletes take the stage. Cheer them on and provide them with the resources they need to ask the questions that need to be asked.
Then, sit back and enjoy the ride.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.