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Here Are the Questions to Ask (And Avoid Asking) a College Coach During Your Recruiting Process

Avoid making the wrong moves by following the advice of college coaches and recruiting experts.

The best questions to ask college coaches and what to avoid asking during your college athletic recruiting process

As a high school athlete, the college recruiting process can be intimidating and overwhelming. You are deciding where to spend the next four years of your athletic and academic career.

The stakes are high, and it’s likely the most important decision you’ve had to make up to this point in your life. I personally started my recruiting process far too late, but luckily found someone who helped me find the best fit in the eleventh hour.

Unfortunately, a lot of players and parents make mistakes in this process by not asking the right questions.

A wrong decision can lead to disastrous consequences, like choosing the wrong program, wasting money on the wrong school, and throwing away your most valuable resource – time.

Like our friends at D3 Direct say, “To limit uncomfortable truths when you step foot on campus, ask the uncomfortable questions during your recruiting process.”

Here are the most important questions to ask college coaches – plus, topics and questions to avoid – according to recruiting experts and college coaches themselves.

Table of Contents

Questions to Ask a College Coach

Bucket full of baseballs

1.) How is the roster shaking out at my position?

Vinny Gallo, head baseball coach at Penn State Brandywine, emphasized understanding the outlook of your position group now and in the future. For example, if the current starting shortstop is a junior, is the coach looking at you to be the guy when he graduates?

I personally overlooked this question as a recruit and ended up competing against six or seven other guys for the second base job as a freshman.

2.) Where am I on your board and how many players are in front of me?

As a follow-up to the last question, this one falls under the “uncomfortable questions” category. But, as college football coach Tony Caljean says, “If they aren’t willing to be transparent, they’ll do the same thing when you’re an athlete there.”

3.) Beyond their skillset, what are you looking for in the players you recruit?

This is a great question suggested by Ian Macdonald, associate head baseball coach at Indiana Wesleyan University.

It will shed light on the team culture the coach is looking to build. Beyond just on-the-field attributes, what kind of person is the coach looking to bring in? What kind of culture are they assembling here?

4.) What are the current strengths and weaknesses of the team?

Going beyond the individual aspect, this will give you a big-picture overview of the team in its current state.

For example, they might be great defensively but need help on offense. This is a clue as to where you can help most in your first year on the team.

5.) In your program, how common is it for a freshman to earn a starting role?

Are they open to freshman starters? Or do they believe in “waiting your turn”?

Their response will show if they value production above all else, or if they tend to stick to the hierarchy of upperclassmen getting the bulk of the playing time. If it’s the latter, you should probably look elsewhere.

6.) What does the typical day look like during the season and during the offseason?

This one comes from William Payne, athletic director for Atlantic Collegiate Academy. This will give you insight into how well the program is run, and what is expected of players.

For example, a typical off-season day might include a 6 AM lift and players-only batting practice in the afternoon. Or an afternoon conditioning workout after class.

In-season, you might have a light morning workout followed by morning classes, then pre-game batting practice on the field, team stretch, and then game time. Or an early-morning departure for an away game.

7.) How do your players balance their academics with athletics?

You’re going to college to get your degree after all, so you want to make sure you get a feel for the workload you’ll be expected to take on.

I personally found having a rigid athletic schedule (practice, games, workouts, etc.) helped me get more done on the academic side because I didn’t have time to dilly-dally. Getting a sense of this now will help you improve your time management skills before even stepping foot on a college campus.

8.) What is the travel schedule like?

For example, a small school program may only take bus trips 2-3 hours around the tri-state area, while larger schools might take longer trips to schools that are further away.

9.) What happens if I have a scheduling conflict where a class overlaps with practice?

And are the professors on the same page as the coaches? If not, you could be in for a rude awakening.

For instance, I nearly flunked an art class because the teacher didn’t understand that I’d be missing class time for baseball.

Make sure you know what’s required so you can create a class schedule that allows you to dedicate the appropriate amount of time to both academics and athletics. Yes, it might mean signing up for those dreaded 8 AM classes. But you don’t have the luxury of sleeping in if you want to play a college sport.

10.) What is the living situation for the team?

Do most players live in dorms? Do upperclassmen live in a house together? This will give you a feel for the team culture and your day-to-day as a student-athlete.

11.) How would your players describe your coaching style?

This gives you a feel for what to expect in the day-to-day of the season, and how well you’ll mesh with the coaching staff.

For example, I played for a team where the head coach delegated a lot of responsibility to his assistant coaches, who were much more hands-on. This allowed hitters more one-on-one time with the hitting coach and position groups to work directly with their position coaches for the majority of practice.

12.) What can I do to make myself more prepared for the opportunity to play here?

This will shed light on what the coach thinks you should work on personally, as well as what he values in his student-athletes.

If you’re on the leaner side, he might tell you to hit the weights hard this summer and bulk up. Or maybe, you need to work on your time management skills for the academic side. Whatever it is, you should get a feel for it now so you aren’t surprised later.

13.) How involved are alumni, students, and faculty in the program?

Does the program get a lot of support from the school? If so, that could give them a leg up on other colleges you’re considering.

There is nothing better than playing in front of fans who truly care. It makes home games – and even your day-to-day experience on campus – so much better.

14.) What kind of access will I have to the facilities outside of practice time?

You’ll certainly want to get your work in outside of practice, and this shows the coach you take the initiative in that respect.

There is little more a coach can ask for than a player who is committed to getting better.

15.) What do most of your players major in?
16.) Are there any majors I won’t be able to major in while playing?

These questions will give you a sense of what kind of career most student-athletes are looking to pursue after college. You’ll also find out if there are any limitations in what you can pursue as a student-athlete at this particular school.

For example, one of my college teammates in the same recruiting class ended up having to leave the team our junior year because he minored in education, and had to student-teach in the afternoons (which overlapped with all team practices and games).

17.) What makes this team, staff, and school different than other similar schools?

The colleges on your list are likely similar in one way or another. For instance, my list consisted mainly of Division III liberal arts schools on the east coast. They seemed similar at a glance, but there are important nuances that you can only understand by asking questions like this.

18.) What is the offer process like?

Save this one for later in the process, once you have a better idea of where you stand with this particular coach and school.

19.) Does an offer mean I have a guaranteed roster spot?

This one is vital before you commit. After all, you’re putting your time, energy, and money on the line when you choose the college you want to attend.

When I was being recruited, I was told I had a guaranteed roster spot, but there was an asterisk that I didn’t realize until the fall of my freshman year.

After fall ball, I didn’t make the varsity team and was put on the practice squad. For the majority of my freshman season, I didn’t dress or travel with the team.

That setback turned out to be a blessing I thanked the coach for later. I worked hard to get bigger and stronger and became a starter the next season. But the point remains – be transparent upfront and ensure you are going somewhere you are wanted.

20.) What happens to my opportunity if I get hurt?

It’s important to prepare for the worst.

In case you get hurt during your high school season or over the summer, what will happen to your opportunity at this school? Are you still guaranteed a roster spot?

21.) The most important question to ask yourself: If athletics were out of the picture, could I still see myself attending this school?

The reality is that your sport will only take up so much of your time. You’ll be spending the majority of your time on campus.

Be honest. Can you truly see yourself here?

If not, it’s time to look elsewhere.

Questions NOT to Ask & Topics to Avoid

Here are the topics and questions to avoid asking a college coach

Am I guaranteed playing time?

As multiple coaches told me, the answer is always no. A roster spot is different from playing time.

There are no guarantees for playing time, even at the professional level. It’s up to you to earn that privilege. It will come down to your work ethic, attitude, skillset, talent, and many other factors.

Don’t ask questions that are a simple Google search away.

College coaches hate when recruits don’t do their research prior to asking questions.

Gather as many facts as you can about the college, program, roster, and coaching staff before reaching out. It will save the coach time, show them you’re serious, and improve your chances of getting recruited.

Don’t ask coaches or current student-athletes anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to hear about.

One college coach told me that a recruit asked one of his student-athletes “where the hot girls are”. Needless to say, he was crossed off the recruiting list a short time later.

Be yourself, sure, but don’t ask questions you wouldn’t want your family to hear about.

Don’t speak negatively about your high school coach.

It reflects poorly on your character and sounds like you’re making excuses for yourself.

If you’re talking bad about your high school coach, what would stop you from doing the same in college? Negativity helps no one.

There are always factors out of your control. But just as in life, you need to make the most of the cards you’re dealt.

Avoid simple spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammatical errors in your emails and DM’s.

This is unprofessional and reflects poorly on you.

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Best of luck in finding your home for the next four years! Have a question? Drop a comment below or explore more no-nonsense tips in our Athlete Hub.

Written By

Division III baseball alum (McDaniel College) and founder of Joker Mag. Sharing underdog stories to inspire the next generation.

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