Speaking with college coaches is part of the recruiting process a high school athlete should definitely prepare for. When a coach calls a recruit, it is important for the recruit to have a basic understanding of what questions the college coach is going to ask. This will help keep the conversation flowing, and will give the recruit time to have a well-thought-out answer. It looks better when the athlete can articulate their thoughts rather than stuttering through answers.
College coaches (depending on the recruiting dates) will be contacting athletes to get a better understanding of what the recruit is all about. Let’s take a look at what some of the questions a college coach might ask a recruit and our thoughts on how a recruit should answer.
Question: What are your grades like? Have you taken the ACT/SAT?
Suggested Answer: You need to be truthful about your grades. Making up grades or simply not knowing what your GPA might be indicates you are a poor student. Even if your grades aren’t where you would like them to be, you still need to be truthful about what they are. A college coach will eventually find out, and it won’t look good if you lie about your academic standings. Grades are very important in the college recruiting process. You need to know at all times what your GPA and test scores are. Recruits can earn academic scholarships with good grades, and you can also move up a coach’s recruiting board if you are smart in the classroom.
One of the first thing coaches ask when we discuss potential recruits is: “How are their grades?”
Question: What are your strengths as an athlete?
Suggested Answer: Don’t be conceited, but be extremely confident. This is your chance to tell the coach what you bring to the table. A coach is contacting you because they are interested in your playing abilities, but by no means are they buying what you have to offer yet. Therefore, it is your job to convince them that you are a terrific player, outstanding student, noble community leader, and the list goes on. The more a coach knows how good you are the more attractive a recruit you become.
Question: What are your weaknesses? How are you going to get better?
Suggested Answer: Everyone has weaknesses…remember that. Nobody is perfect. You do not want to spend too much time focusing on your weaknesses, but you should address that you have areas of your game that you are working to improve. The more important issue here is that you recognize what you are not so strong at, and that you are taking the appropriate steps to get better. If you are a baseball player that can’t hit left-handed pitching, then explain how you and your hitting coach are working on drills to improve in that area. Maybe you are about 15-20lbs undersized to play linebacker at the college level, so you are working with a personal trainer to get bigger, faster, and stronger.
Question: What activities are you involved in besides your sport?
Suggested Answer: This is your chance to talk about anything you do that will help you stand out from the other recruits. Coaches want to get to know you on a more personal level, and the coaches want to see what makes you different from the other recruits they are looking at. Some things that you can talk about are: volunteering at the soup kitchen, your role with habitat for humanity, member of the math club, coach for the youth leagues around town, black belt in Tae Kwan do, and the list goes on. The important thing is that you show to the coach that you are an all-around person. This proves to the coach that you have the discipline to work at being a student-athlete at the collegiate level. All coaches want recruits that are good people in the community. Coaches will ask our Scouts all the time: “what type of person are they.” Which is code for ‘are they going to be a problem for me.’
Question: What goals do you have?
Suggested Answer: As a student-athlete, you should always have goals you are working towards. Don’t settle just because you were an All-Conference performer, and definitely don’t settle if you have started to receive a few scholarship offers. Strive to be the best at what you do, and let the coach know that is your goal and you won’t stop until you get there. This would be a time to talk team and individual goals. Maybe you want to win State, or you are working hard to be .400 hitter in softball or baseball. Coaches like when athletes are challenging themselves to be better. That is ultimately why you compete…to be the best!
Question: What do you like about our program?
Suggested Answer: Make sure if you are calling a coach, or if you have received some emails or literature from a coach that you do some research on the program. A coach is going to be more impressed with you if you can talk about the program. The more you know about the school and coach, the more it looks like you are eager for the opportunity to attend that school. Do not approach it like you are doing the coach a favor by taking his/her phone call. They will sniff that out and probably stop recruiting you. Remember, there are thousands of athletes just like you that a coach can recruit. Some of the things you can bring up if a coach asks this question: I like your recent college bowl appearances, I’m really impressed with your nonconference schedule, I like the style of offense you run, I like that you are graduating 90% of your incoming freshman. You basically want to show the coach that you are appreciative of their recruiting efforts.
Question: Why do you think you can play at this level?
Suggested Answer: Be confident in this situation. Let the coach know that you have the skills and abilities to compete at their school. Also, make sure you say that you’ll be working on your game to get even better prepared to compete. You want to make sure that the coach knows you’ll be a valuable asset to his/her program.
Question: What other schools are recruiting you?
Suggested Answer: This is probably one of the most important things a coach is interested in learning about you. Sure, they want to get to know you, but they also want to know who else is interested. In this situation you want to be honest, but you don’t want to give them every detail about your recruitment. You become a more desirable recruit when other schools, especially rival schools, are recruiting you for a scholarship. A coach will become more interested if they know other schools are in the mix. It shows that you are a solid recruit that is being targeted by the competition. You shouldn’t tell coaches what kind of offers you have from other schools, except that you do or don’t have an offer. Don’t lie about other schools recruiting you either. As competitive as the recruiting game and game days are, college coaches are a tight group. They all hang and run in the same crowds, and even though they might not personally know one another, they know somebody that knows them. So, all they would have to do is make a call to find out whether a certain school is recruiting you. Just be honest from the get go.