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12 Questions You Must Ask a College Coach

Coach talking to athlete

The recruiting process is a two-way street. Even though coaches are evaluating student-athletes, it’s also up to you and your family to evaluate a potential school or program. But how can you be sure that you’re making the right choice – that a school is the best fit? 

It’s important for you to do the research, create a target list of your favorite schools and start contacting coaches. You should always have a list of questions ready to ask coaches, from what type of majors are offered (or popular with athletes) to how often and how far away the team travels to games and events. 

It should be no surprise that your parents must also be prepared to ask questions. While college coaches want to get to know potential recruits like you, they also understand that the recruiting process is a team effort. Your parents should let you take the lead when asking questions. But it’s perfectly OK for them to talk to coaches and ask their own questions too. 

What questions should athletes ask college coaches?

Below are 12 good questions to ask college coaches. If you’re unsure how to get started, check out our guide to how to email a college coach. Also, check out our questions to ask college coaches on the phone.

While you might have a general idea of what your day may look like, every team is different. Many programs practice year-round, and some travel may be required during holidays or summer breaks. Coaches understand that your parents are also interested in knowing what you will be doing regularly, whether it’s going to classes and studying, spending time at the gym, or traveling to games or meets. 

Knowing what your schedule could look like will help you decide which college and team is right for you.

It’s easy to forget that even after you receive a verbal or written offer from a coach, you still have to apply to college. The coach should be able to answer typical admissions questions, such as the minimum GPAs and test scores required to be accepted into the school, application deadlines and whether they’ll be able (or allowed) to provide feedback or review the athlete’s application before they officially submit it.

While it’s true that you can get this information from other websites, getting this information straight from the coach will be a real help. You might even find out what application information could give you an edge over others.

There are many different styles of coaching out there. You don’t want to be stuck with uber tough drill sergeant if you don’t respond well to that. It could take some of the fun out of the sport you love. 

Knowing what coaching style they use can also give you an idea of what they expect from your performance. This is key to understanding how you compare to their standards. 

Is there anything you could be doing that prepares you for next year? You might even ask about certain exercises and training you could do to keep your body in playing shape.

It’s every parent’s worst-case scenario – you get unexpectedly injured, and you’re out for the season. Though the NCAA requires college athletes to have health insurance, schools are not obligated to pay for an athlete’s medical expenses. It’s not uncommon for your parents to have to cover part or all the out-of-pocket costs.

If the coach has brought up the possibility of an athletic scholarship, ask whether that scholarship will still apply if you’re out for part or the entire season. 

No matter where an athlete is in the recruiting process, it’s important for you and your parents to know what to expect and what to do next. Will there be any follow-up visits or appointments? What paperwork or admissions-related materials do families have to prepare or fill out? Are there any important or upcoming deadlines? 

You don’t want to blow your chances by missing an important deadline, so ask and then mark them off on your phone’s calendar. Make sure to set alerts, too.

What questions should parents ask college coaches?

Here are some questions your parents may want to ask prospective coaches.

Wait until a coach has expressed an offer before discussing how much athletic aid, if any, is being offered. Questions about a school’s overall tuition and room-and-board costs, need-based aid, and academic or merit-based scholarships are preferable, but you should also use the school’s admissions and financial aid offices as a more thorough resource.

Your best bet? Ask what type of expenses players must cover, such as uniforms, equipment, or the cost of team trips. 

Some schools require that student-athletes (or all students) live on campus for at least one, if not all four years. Others allow students to live off campus or have apartment-style housing available. What are the dorms likes? How many students live on and off campus? Is there housing available exclusively for student-athletes? If not, do most athletes tend to live together or do they comingle with the regular student body?

It might also be good to ask if your child could room with other athletes.

Athletes should make sure they’re academically eligible to not only get admitted to the college but also remain eligible to compete. If your child’s GPA drops below a certain level, they may be removed from play or be dropped from the team altogether.

To avoid this, some schools offer additional services for student-athletes. These can include mandatory or recommended study hours, academic advisors, tutors, and even support from professors to make up the work they missed while traveling or competing with their team. 

Ensuring that your child is safe is a top priority. Especially when most will be away from home for the first time. It’s understandable to ask questions about campus safety and security – does the school have security or police officers stationed on campus? How does the school communicate with students during emergencies? Are there transportation services offered for late nights or off-campus activities? 

Every division level is different. While a top program may not leave student-athletes with a lot of free-time, plenty of programs, especially those at the D3 and NAIA level, offer athletes a chance to explore other extracurricular interests, obtain a part-time job or internship and even study abroad. 

In 2014, the NCAA made it mandatory for D1 programs to provide student-athletes with unlimited meals and snacks, but those same rules don’t always apply to D2, D3 or NAIA programs. Make sure to ask whether student-athletes are on the same meal plan as their non-athlete peers, as well as what types of dining options are available. Some schools have even started to offer specialty athletic nutrition facilities – complete with chefs and dieticians – to help their athletes reach peak performance. 

3 questions to avoid when speaking with coaches

Below are a few questions you should avoid in conversation with coaches and recruiters. 

Don’t back the coach into a corner, especially if he doesn’t have all the info, he needs yet. Anything they say will only make you more nervous and anxious. If you’re getting an offer, then you’ll get one. Be patient.

This is not the best way to ask this question. First off, it should NEVER be asked during your initial conversations with a coach. That makes it seem like money is your deciding factor, and it shouldn’t be. 

After you have built a relationship with a college coach and know he or she is interested in recruiting you, then you can ask about scholarship opportunities and financial aid at their school. By then you might have other offers on the table to reference, but do so in a tasteful manner. You don’t want to turn off the coach. 

This is a very sensitive subject and you should avoid it completely. 99% of colleges consider verbal commitments just like a legal contract except that it is not. It is basically making a promise and breaking it. Don’t commit unless you are ready to shut down your recruiting. 

What not to say when speaking with college coaches

Now that we’ve covered the dos and don’ts of questions to ask college coaches, here’s a list of what not to say.

This is not a good way to start off a letter. It’s too impersonal and formal. The coach is going to see this and toss your letter without reading anything else. You should address the letter to a specific coach. Do you research and find out the coach’s name at the college you are writing to. 

Avoid talking about things you can’t prove. Suppose you said that even though you only throw 75 MPH, you get ground balls and have better numbers than the kids throwing 85 in your league. Even if there is some truth to that, college coaches know what they are looking for. They know how to evaluate players and don’t need you to tell them things that they already know.

Here’s what you can do. Keep coaches updated on your achievements during the spring and summer. Show them things you can measure, like velocity and zero-to-sixty times. Let the coach know which tournaments, camps, and showcases you will be attending so they can evaluate you. 

Suppose you’ve been an asked a question that you don’t know the answer to. That’s fine. It happens. Here’s what you can say. 
“That’s a great question. I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

If you find yourself wanting to say, “I can’t,” as in, “I can’t do that,” don’t. It’ll show you’re not really committed. What you can say is that you’ll figure how to do whatever it is their asking. 

You might be asked about your current coach. Be super careful how you answer. If you’re overly negative, coaches may wonder if it’s really the coach that’s the problem, or if it’s you. Being needlessly negative also shows that you can’t work well with others or take criticism well.

The more you talk about it, the more you show yourself to be an excuse maker and not a recruit who wants to improve their game for the team.

It might be tempting to throw in the name of your dream school during conversations but avoid the temptation. Mentioning another school makes it seem like you aren’t interested in that school when you could be. It also shows that you aren’t open to options. 

College coaches are confident in their ability to evaluate players and recruits. Comparing your skills against another player is a surefire way to get passed over quickly. It shows that you don’t trust coaches’ evaluations. If you really are better than another player, then your performance will show that. Let your abilities speak for themselves. 

Coaches want confident, yet humble players. You’ll have a better chance if you go in knowing you have skills but also could sharpen them.

We know this is confusing, but being too open minded is just as bad being too closed minded. It shows coaches that you don’t really care about their team or the college. It’s best to do your research and make sure to talk about why the school will be a good fit for you, if you think it will be.