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15 College Coach “Turn Offs” to Avoid

College coaches are evaluating prospects during every single interaction.  Whether the coach is watching film, talking to an athlete on campus or watching them deal with a loss after a high school game, each observation is a chance to make assumptions about the prospect.  It is important for every recruit to understand what sort of things might leave a negative impression with a college coach.

After surveying and interviewing former and current college coaches, we came up with a list of the most common “turn offs” that ALL recruits should be aware of!

In no particular order:
– Student athletes asking about scholarships on the first email or visit they have with the coach
– Student athletes being rude to their parents
– Student-athletes acting like they are “too good” or above that particular school
– Student athletes coming to a visit unprepared.  For example, having no prior knowledge of the school or team.
– Student-athletes being quiet on the phone with only one word answers to their questions.  Coaches understand that prospects can be nervous, but make sure you do not seem disinterested!
– Student-athletes not being honest about their interest level in that school
– Student-athletes who call or email too frequently
– Student-athletes acting inappropriately on a recruiting visit.  For example, partying too much.
– Parents being too involved
– Student-athletes who misrepresent their academic and athletic information
– Student-athletes not responding in a reasonable amount of time
– Student-athletes not providing the necessary info.  For example transcripts and video
– Student-athletes who do not personalize their correspondence with college coaches.  For example, writing an email or a letter with “Dear Coach” instead of using the actual last name.
– Student-athletes arranging a campus or home visit and not showing
– Unrealistic opinion and promotion of the student-athlete by parents, high school coaches, or the athletes themselves.

Do any of those sound familiar?  If so, you are not alone.  Many athletes and families make mistakes throughout the recruiting process.  The list above certainly is not all encompassing and there are many other pitfalls a recruit can succumb to.  In most cases, the mistake might not immediately result in a prospect’s name being crossed off the list, but it certainly will not help…and given the importance of this process, why risk it?

Think about it like this.  A college coach is looking at two prospects.  Both have almost identical academics and athletics.  One prospect comes to a recruiting trip and parties too much and misses curfew while the other gets to bed on time and has a productive visit.  Which prospect do you think will be higher on that coach’s recruiting list?

About the author
Adam Diorio


  • This information seems very good, how about some examples or further explaination of the parents being too involved?


  • Great idea – We will be sure to provide some information for parents. If you want to read the 8 Rules for Parents to follow, click here:

  • In defense of the student-athlete, however, how about when a coach/school “turns off” the athlete with things like addressing him/her as “prospective student-athlete” or not keeping in contact. There’s a fair amount of “false hope” given out there to these kids; we have experienced it as parents of a student-athlete who was sometimes not recruited realistically.

  • How about the Coaches that try to ignore the parents. Most parents have been through the trash that most coaches spew. Most coaches are like ‘used car salesmen’. They lie about their intent for the athlete. Parents have a reason to look for the best for their child. Be honest and put both side of this issue out to all who read this site or to all who recieve and don’t read.

  • Rich and Lladnar – thanks for your comments! There are absolutely ways that college coaches can “turn off” recruits. It is a two way relationship. This article is specifically talking about how athletes can turn off coaches in an effort to help th athletes. NCSA also educates the college coaching community about ways that they turn off student-athletes.

  • How does attitude on the court play in to a recruiters opinion on a student athlete?
    What if you see talent but a crappy attitude?
    What if this athlete does not cheer on her team when she’s not in, do recruiters look at that?

  • During my nearly 20 years a collegiate coach, when I contacted a recruit or usually a parent that answered the phone that I was interested in learning more about, rarely was there a second conversation when the first question was, “How much money (scholarship) are you going to give my kid?” Usually coaches have no or little information (academic strength or financial need requirements) on a prospect when beginning the recruiting process. Unless the prospect is “blue chip,” a great deal of information must be gathered before a coach can make an educated comparison between the potential contribution of a prospect to his program and the cost for that prospect’s contribution.

    Despite a parent’s ovewhelming interest in the answer to the question, asking it first is the poorest way I can think of to begin a relationship with a coach.

  • The list says: Student-athletes who do not personalize their correspondence with college coaches. For example, writing an email or a letter with “Dear Coach” instead of using the actual last name.

    How should we address them in e-mails? “Dear Coach Doe,” or “Dear Coach John Doe,” or “John”? I grew up you don’t call any coach (especially your own coaches) by first name when in school, practice or a game. After you move on, it depends on your personal relationship with the coach (family friend, future co-worker).

    The list also says: Student-athletes who call or email too frequently. How often should a student-athlete contact them? How much is too much?

  • this list is good. however, how much emailing is too much? if you are communicating with a coach, you have to reply to them. and unless you are a superstar athlete, the only way a coach will be interested in you is if you make the first move by emailing them.

  • “How does attitude on the court play in to a recruiters opinion on a student athlete?
    What if you see talent but a crappy attitude?
    What if this athlete does not cheer on her team when she’s not in, do recruiters look at that?”

    Does this not apply to College Coach “Turn Offs” to Avoid?
    I don’t know, maybe this question is too personal.

    We just want to get to a point of applying this advice …thats all.

    Thanks a lot.

  • Informaion I have obtained recently regarding email is as follows:

    Email has now become more formal than in previous years when contacting a prospective coach, potential employer, etc. The email should be sent using a letter format. Personally, I would not address him as “Coach”. Yes he or she may be the coach at that particular college or university but he or she may or may not become your child’s coach or student athlete’s coach. Again, this is based on my personal opinion and research conducted.


    June 1, 2010

    Doe University
    Head Coach Mr. John Smith
    Athletic Department-Soccer Division
    1234 Smith Street
    Anywhere, OK.

    Dear Mr. John Smith,

    Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jason Jones. I’m currently a student at………

  • Great tips. Mostly common sense. But I think it is important to also point out that coaches don’t always conduct themselves professionally. For example, a coach scheduled a phone call with my daughter. At the scheduled time, he did not call. Emailed the next day saying he had a family emergency and rescheduled call. Once again he did not call and we got no explanation at all this time. The next time my daughter’s scouting report was distributed, he emailed wanting to find out more about her. Needless to say, my daughter responded that she was no longer considering the school.

  • Although I agree that the first convo should ideally be generally and to see if the recruit and the coach have a common interest in the team at XYZ school, I think it appropriate that finances be addressed/recognized, albeit very lightly at this stage. Why go further in a convo if there is no money and this is a school that costs a bundle? Many kids may be eligible for free tuition at state u and the coach shouldb e ready to talk about why they should come to his school. That convo should mention that they might be able to help with some costs – to be addressed in detail later if ther eis in fact a need and a fit. You can’t just ignore it!!! Coaches and parents and increasingly students know this.

  • I would greatly appreciate some more info and examples of parents being to involved.

    Thank You

  • Andy – As a parent who went through this, it’s tough, but we have to let our kids handle the conversations with college coaches. The last thing a college coach wants is an overly involved/protective/helicopter parent. Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not saying you’re that way. What examples of parents being involved would you like to see?

  • what if the high school coaches are not helping. what if you have not approached a coach or said anything…and you feel that things are not being done on the up and up and your son…and other players are going to get left behind. this fine line between coach and parent is soooo fine and gray..noone knows how to deal with the problem. i could really use some help. how does my son contact a coach on his own????