College Athletic Recruiting: Questions to Ask Coaches

My clients often ask what questions they should ask when they visit with athletic coaches?  Whether you are a “blue chip” NCAA Division 1 athletic recruit, or whether you are hoping to play in the NAIA, or whether you’re interested in a NCAA Division 3 team, these questions can help you determine whether this team, this coach, and this athletic program are right for you.


STUDENT ATHLETES

Questions to Ask

My Athletic Career

1.)   What position will I play on your team?

2.)   Have you personally watched me play? If so, why do you think my skills fit into your program?

3.)   Describe the current players competing at the same position. What skills do they possess?

4.)   How many freshmen are being recruited for my position?

5.)   Where do you see me fitting in the program this year? Years 2, 3 and 4?

6.)   What chance do I have to win playing time as a freshman?

7.)   I know you have a list of potential recruits for this position. Where am I on that list?

8.)   Can I “redshirt” my first year? Under what conditions do you typically redshirt players?

9.)   What are the physical requirements each year? (training commitments, weight, etc.)

10.)    Will I receive a written contract or tender?

11.)   What are your expectations of me as a player? As a person?


The Coach and Coaching Staff

1.)   How would you best describe your coaching style?

2.)   Where do you place your emphasis (offense, defense) during training and games or matches?

3.)   When does your head coaching contract end?

4.)   What is each of the assistant coaches responsible for?

5.)   How does your team treat walk-ons?

6.)   What is the typical year like for your student athletes? (off-season training program)

7.)   What is the typical day like for your student athletes during the season? During the off-season?

8.)   How important is this particular sport to your school’s athletic director?

9.)   What is the current status of the college’s relationship with the NCAA (or NAIA)?


Sports and Academics

1.)   What percentage of your players on scholarship graduate in four years?

2.)   What is the team’s GPA from last year?

3.)   Describe the typical class size.

4.)   What do you do to academically support your players? (Tutors, study hall requirements, staff, class load)

5.)   Am I allowed time to make up classes and tests missed because of the competition schedule?

6.)   Are tutors provided for athletes?

7.)   How do students compensate for time out of the classroom?

8.)   What are your policies for missed practices or being late due to class commitments?

9.)   Do you have a solid academic advising center?  How many players take advantage of it?

10.)         How many credits are required for me to be eligible to compete?

11.)         How many credits are required for me to keep my financial aid?


The Team

1.)   Do the players on the team all live in the same dorm?

2.)   Will I be required to live on campus all four years?

3.)   Where state/region do most of your players come from?

4.)   Are there any unique team-building activities you do in your program?

5.)   How many games/matches are there in a season?

6.)   How much travel do you have in a typical year?

7.)   What tournaments do you play in?

8.)   What are the most impressive accomplishments of your program in the past five years?

9.)   What are your team conduct rules? Are they the college’s minimums or are they tougher?

10.)         Am I expected to stay in town during the summer?

11.)         When does the season begin? End?

12.)         What are my off-season responsibilities?


Finances and Scholarships

1.)   Specifically, what expenses does the financial aid and/or scholarship package cover? (Tuition, room, board, books, special assessments, supplies)?

2.)   Is financial aid available for summer school?

3.)   If I’m injured, what happens to my financial aid?

4.)   What are my opportunities for employment while I’m a student?

5.)   What conditions are used to determine annual renewal of scholarship?

6.)   What medical expenses does the college cover?  Do I need other insurance?

Mark Montgomery
Admissions and Athletic Recruiting Adviser


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About the Author

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

20 Responses to “College Athletic Recruiting: Questions to Ask Coaches”

  1. Katie says:

    How many credits of science do you need to make the requirements as a soon to be freshmen in an NAIA school?

  2. Mark Montgomery says:

    Hi, Katie. It totally depends on the school. NAIA is not as regimented as the NCAA.

  3. Jess says:

    Hi! When and where is the best time to ask these questions? I am going on an official visit soon, would that be a good time?

  4. Mark Montgomery says:

    Hi, Jess.
    Absolutely, you MUST ask these questions on an official visit. If you are being recruited, you should ensure that you area able to spend time with the folks in admission, too, and maybe even with some faculty. If it’s just a sports visit, you’ll really only get a view of that part of your experience. You want to investigate EVERY aspect of the college experience…especially the academic aspects.
    Good luck with your visit!

  5. Stacy says:

    I was wondering how to bring up the whole financial aid, money deal… i feel like that is one of the first questions i have when being pursued by a school, but it feels kind of awkward to bring it up first thing.

  6. Brian says:

    If a coach tells a recruit that he has a roster-spot but is out of scholarship money for his freshman year, is there anything that the coach can provide in writing to ensure that when monies become available the player will be taken care of (ie: soph,jr, sr years)?

  7. Mark Montgomery says:

    Hi Brian.
    The coach controls only a small amount of money. And he won’t put anything in writing: if a better player comes along, it’s that player who will get the money. If it ain’t in writing, it ain’t enforceable. And don’t ask admissions: their pot of money isn’t given to the coaches to control (no matter that the coach may say he’ll “put in a good word.”). Don’t believe what you want to hear. Heck, the coach might not even be at that school in a year’s time. Empty promises….
    Best of luck!

  8. John says:

    I am a track athlete was wondering can public universities offer in state tuition to out of state students?sky stri

  9. Mark Montgomery says:

    Hi, John.
    Public universities can offer in-state tuition to athletes, if they want. It depends on the university and the state, but it is possible. Good luck!

  10. Stacy,
    Thanks for your question. It’s completely understandable that financial aid and what money you might have the potential to receive is at the top of your list of questions. Unfortunately, it’s a question that most coaches won’t be able to answer if you are early in the recruiting process. Coaches have to look at their entire recruiting class and make decisions about where they will allocate their money or who they want badly enough on their team to advocate to Admissions to provide some merit aid. Your best bet is to try to understand where you stand on a coach’s list of recruits. If you are near the top, you’ll have a better chance of getting some money. Also, irrespective of the financial aid that you will receive, you should investigate the various aspects of the athletic program and the college you are talking to, so that you get a sense of whether or not the school and program are a good fit for you and if you’d be happy there. Let us know if we can help you with your college recruiting and search efforts!

  11. Kira says:

    Are these appropriate to use on a phone call?

  12. Hi Kira,
    These questions can be used either in-person or on a phone call. It makes no difference. Thanks for your question!

    - Andrea

  13. Julianna says:

    Hi, Im going on an unofficial visit next week to a D3 school and they have seen me play and I will be staying with the team while Im there. Whats the number on question I should ask?

  14. Hi Julianna,
    The most important question depends on your specific interests and concerns. All of the questions in this blog post are useful. Good luck with your visit!

  15. Manny says:

    as a parent what kind of question I should i ask. i understand we should leave the player ask most of the question however, I would like to know as parent what should be concerned of beside the academics and way of life in campus. as you know most athletics scholarship are given in one year term.

  16. Hello,

    You are correct that, as a parent it is important to obtain information related to your child’s college search or the athletic recruitment process. You may want to to encourage your child to ask these questions on their own. Explain why it is important to learn more about the academics and way of life on campus. Some students are nervous about asking questions and need to know exactly how to phrase what they are asking. It is fine for the parent to step in, but you have to give the child a chance to be in the driver’s seat.

    Katherine Price

  17. joe says:

    I have a son in Div 3 college soccer program. He is a sophomore.
    He was heavily recruited by head coach via letters, phone, email, visitations/stayovers as a senior in HS. Started as a Freshman played almost entire game and at game 4 tore PCL. Rehabbed rest of year and returned to the field mid Spring. Worked hard at rehab/ training/ fitness/skills over the summer. Ten Freshman recruits made the team. As a freshman head coach had a new assistant coach. Found out end of freshman year head coach promoted to AD, assistant coach promoted to head soccer coach; new coach who heavily recruited these new freshman. Now as a Sophomore, son and three other previous starters play very little and new coach starts eight of his new freshman. Son made appointment to find out what he can improve and/or what he can do to earn his spot back and told he is doing great and there is no problem yet he still plays for 20 min max/ sometimes 5 minutes with no explanation as to why or what he is doing incorrectly. Once out he does not return to field. It is as though he puts these players in to get them over with so he can concentrate on his “new” team. Very little subs during gametime. At some games he will play first ten minutes and then out for the rest of the game along with a few other players from last year. Teams record not great: 6-9-5; Any suggestions? Choice of college was 80% based on being able to play soccer and very confident with all that was verbal /written regarding him being one of main players on team. All that has changed. Feel that he was extremely misled and now disappointed b/c the tables have turned with new coach playing primarily his recruits. please respond with suggestions, comments, etc. thanks.

  18. Mark Montgomery says:

    Hi, Joe.

    I wish I could say that this story is unique. It’s not. Coaches are in the game for themselves. They want to win, so that they can be promoted to AD someday and make the big bucks. Our sons and daughters sometimes become pawns in a different game. Your son has to make some decisions. Will he stay on the team under present circumstances? Will he try to transfer somewhere else where his skills will be more appreciated? Should he quit and join the club team–where he might at least be able to play? Or bag soccer altogether an spend more time on the intramural water polo team?

    Especially if this college was chosen primarily for soccer and not for academics, your son might consider a transfer. His education–as well as his ability to play soccer–is at stake. But also consider this: his injury could make him less desirable in any attempt to do the recruiting big again for D3–unless he looks at a less competitive team in a less competitive league.

    I wish I could tell you how to handle the coach in order for your son to get his wish. But the coach is the boss of the team, and sometimes in life we have to recognize that we can’t change our boss, so we have to change our situation in order to pursue our goals in a new way.

    Let me know if I can be helpful with the transfer. I’ve worked with kids in similar situations in the past.

    Best wishes,
    Mark

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