Once you have put yourself in the spotlight and have given a coach a strong sense of who you are personally and as an athlete, it’s time to request their honest opinion of your chances with their team.
DON’T AVOID THE DIFFICULT QUESTIONS
Recruiting boils down to a rather simple equation: As you continue to correspond with college coaches, don’t lose sight of the ultimate goal—that you want to be identified as an athlete who’s right for the team. It’s fine to have informal conversations with coaches, but don’t dance around the central issue.
Now is the time to be straightforward and determine where you stand. Don’t expect a coach to simply volunteer that you are one of their top recruits. If they say so, great. If not, you shouldn’t think that you are out of luck. You must be assertive and find out how serious they are about you.
When to Have These Conversations
You should have decisive conversations once you are well into the CaptainU Recruiting process. Before you go asking for an assessment, give the coach plenty of time to review your cover letter and profile, check your references, and see you compete. A thorough coach will want the full picture before they decide to bring you onto the team. Once you are convinced that the coach has a thorough sense of you, call or e-mail them. Phrase your questions in a genuine, non-confrontational fashion. The most important thing is that you actually bring up the subject of your standing. You’re asking perfectly reasonable questions; there’s no reason to be shy about this.
As you approach the impending decision of where to apply, you need to have a clear understanding of your prospects with each team. A few targeted questions will shed light on where things stand. These questions and associated topics should be discussed and elaborated upon over the course of a few emails and phone calls. You don’t have to slam the coach with one epic barrage of questions. Get a general sense of where he or she thinks you fit in, and then iron out the details over the following weeks.
Call Or Email
To discuss your standing with a coach, choose between email, with which you can articulate yourself more deliberately, and a phone call. Take into consideration the mode of communication that has been most effective with each coach. If email has worked better with a particular coach, go with it. If you’ve had greater success calling that coach, use the phone. If you choose to write an email, incorporate the following questions without writing a laundry list of 37 million numbered questions.
SAMPLE QUESTIONS TO ASK
• “Now that you’ve seen me play twice and have spoken with my high school coach, how do you think I can fit in with your team?
• If the coach responds with something vague like, “I think that over time you can contribute,” ask for more specifics.
• “Will you offer me a spot on the preseason roster, or will I have to walk on?”
• “Do you think I can contribute immediately—can I get playing time as a freshman? Or do you envision me seeing very limited playing time for the first few years? If so, whatʼs your red shirt policy?”
• “Is there athletic scholarship money that will be available for me? How are scholarships spread among the team?”
• “What’s your relationship like with the admissions department? If I apply, what kind of assistance can you offer in terms of moving my application favorably through admissions? Will you support my application?”
• Mention to the coach if you’ve begun to narrow down your list of colleges. If their school is one of your top two or three, let them know.
• Be frank with the coach of your top choice—“Under the Sea College is without a doubt my top choice. If I am accepted and offered a spot on the soccer team I will definitely come.”
GUARANTEED POSITIONS & PLAYING TIME
While you’re having these decisive conversations be wary of hollow promises. A coach might, for example, guarantee you a starting position. Remember that they still haven’t seen you play with their team. They can’t be certain how you’ll fit in with the team and adapt to the college game. You may be the Michael Jordan of your club team but require development to be effective at the college level. From your end, don’t press coaches for such guarantees. Instead of going on the offensive and asking a coach to promise that you’ll be a starter, phrase the question in a more general, and less confrontational fashion: “What would you say are my chances for playing time as a freshman?”
CaptainU Recruiting is about getting yourself onto a college team where you can eventually contribute. Actually earning minutes on the field is something you have to do when you arrive on campus. If you want playing time as a freshman, you have to prove yourself during preseason.
After you’ve sorted out your standing with a coach and determined that they want you on their team, you should ask how exactly to proceed. Figure out what steps you need to take to apply to the college, get your financial aid/scholarship situation in order, and meet eligibility requirements.