After long and productive July viewing periods, come Autumn, college coaches are now beginning to make home visits to top prospects and also have student-athletes on their campus for official and unofficial visits. Be reminded, to staffs with limited resources (time and financial), these visits are not offered in haste. Numerous evaluations, video tape, phone calls and other research are assessed and staff meetings sometimes result in heated debates regarding certain prospects. No matter what the final decision, coaching staffs put incredible efforts in ranking their top recruits so they can make and/or offer visits which ultimately result in scholarship offers.
Nevertheless, when student-athletes do get offered a home visit or on-campus visit, the usual process involves the coaches explaining why the school is a good fit for the prospect, how the prospect fits into their system, and how they will make an immediate impact with them.
What always surprised me as a college coach (I have coached at the DI, DII and DIII levels for the last decade plus) was that student-athletes did not come more prepared with questions and also failed to put the coaching staff on the “hot seat”.
In order to really get information, student-athletes must “flip the script” on coaches (in a nice way!) in order to evaluate the coaching staff just has hard as they have evaluated the prospect.
In order to make the best informed decision for themselves, prospective student-athletes should consider the following:
- Find out what the core values of the program are – What are the defined expectations? Can you live up to the core value? What does the program stand for?
- Watch live practice(s) — Are they efficient? Is individual improvement and fundamentals stressed? How do teammates relate to the coaching staff and each other? What do coaches emphasize?
- Watch practice film(s) — This ensures that the practice you saw live was the “real” thing!
- Watch game(s) — How does the team warm-up? Home vs. road games? Is the team prepared in EOG/ATO situations?
- Watch game film with the coaching staff – What are the expectations of the players in regards to scouts? What is the focus film sessions? Are the scouts personnel based or system based?
- Ask the head coach to draw their favorite sets/calls – Can they do this on the fly? Do they look to take advantage of mismatches? How can you thrive in these offenses/defenses?
- Ask the head coach (and assistants) about their future – What is their five year plan? Do they plan to take another job or retire? Are they in trouble of not being asked back/fired? (you probably won’t ask this but you should be thinking about it!)
- Listen, listen, listen – Are the coaches telling you what you want to hear or are they being brutally honest?
Prospects must be reminded that coaches hope to make visits special and want everything to go as planned. Although this should be appreciated, finding out these answers to the previous questions (the real truth) is imperative.
In addition, prospective student-athletes must ask the tough questions of themselves: “What do I want my college experience to be like?” In addition to being self aware and knowing what they want in an institution and a coaching staff, prospects must ask those coaches recruiting them tough questions such as, “How will you make me a better player?”, and not be in awe of facilities, team gear and lofty or unrealistic promises. Prospects need to know how they will be challenged and the responsibility they will have to assume as a member of the program.