Questions College Coaches Should Ask and High School Players Should Be Able to Answer
I am frequently surprised how rarely a high school player knows what a college coach is actually looking for in a prospect. I am just as surprised when players return from a recruiting visit or when they just talk on the phone with a college coach by the kinds of questions the prospect was asked.
At the highest levels, college coaches have many choices for good players. What they need to recruit to win championships and build successful programs are good people and good athletes. Good people become good teammates. Good players don’t win championships, good teams do. Good people have a teachable spirit and a growth mindset. Good people work hard to become good athletes. Good athletes have the most potential to become good players. Good people who become good athletes who become good players win championships and help to build good programs.
So if the goal of a college coach is to build such a program and if the goal as a high school player is to play for such a program, what are the benchmarks to differentiate between prospects and suspects? What are the questions a college coach should ask and a high school player should have good answers to?
Coaches, you are already asking your prospects some very good questions that I will not repeat here. However, here are some specific questions that you may not be asking a high school recruit that have real probative value about what kind of person, athlete, and player the recruit is:
- Explain to me three systems in your life that help you be organized and successful.
- For your three best friends, what are their grade point averages and what careers are they considering pursuing in college or otherwise? “You are who you hang out with.” What are your career aspirations beyond your sport?
- Tell me something kind you did for someone today.
- Give me examples of things you do for family members without being asked? What are the best qualities of each member of your family?
- In what ways do you volunteer to help others in your life?
- What chores do you do every week? (Taking out the trash is not a chore it’s a favor.)
- Tell me about the last two jobs that you had to interview for and what your responsibilities were there.
- If I walked into your room at your house, what would I find on the floor? What is the standard you are required to meet for neatness and cleanliness of your room and how often do you need to be reminded to keep it that way?
- Do you do your own laundry? Explain to me how you do it. When your clothes are put away, where are they kept and how are they organized?
- Here is a t-shirt. Explain to me how to fold it. How would you pack a pair of pants in a suitcase to keep them from being wrinkled?
- If you own a car, who paid for it? If you contributed to buying it, how did you get the money? Savings from gifts? Earning from jobs? If I sat in your car, what would I see on the floor and find in all of the compartments? What is the next item on your list to maintain the car? Who pays to maintain the car?
- If I came to your house, what three course meal could you prepare for me?
- How hard do you need to work to maintain your grade point average? On average, how many A’s are given in each class at your high school? How many valedictorians are typically awarded in each graduating class at your school? (At one school at which I mentor players, they had 19 valedictorians one year. A’s were given out like candy!) “Good grades are like batting averages, they only mean something if you had to work really hard to achieve them, the standards were really high, and the competition was elite.” Do you speak a second language? (particularly Spanish in our country)
- What do you do with your free time?
- Tell me about a book you are reading that is not required in school.
- What is the training process, i.e., the phases, in a typical year that you do to become a better athlete (not player) for your sport?
- What are the functional demands of your sport generally and specifically of the position(s) you play? Generally, how do you train off the field to meet those functional demands? Explain to me the process of a typical physical conditioning workout.
- What do you do for movement prep before you begin your workout? In what ways do you train such things as mobility, flexibility, stability, and balance?
- Explain the process and reasoning behind your dynamic movement routine? In what ways do you train agility, quickness, speed, and explosiveness?
- In what ways are anticipation and preparation for your sport incorporated into your workouts?
- In what ways is reaction regularly incorporated into your training?
- In what ways and how often do you compete against another person and/or to better a standard in your workouts?
- How often and in what ways is a baseball incorporated into a drill in your workouts?
- How does your strength training help you to meet the functional demands of your sport?
- How often and in what ways are you required to think at the same time you are doing something physical in your workouts?
- What mental and visual acuity drills do you do in your workouts?
- What do you do to “cool down” at the end of your workouts?
- Do you keep a food journal?
- For the past three days: What did you eat? What nutritional purposes were served by everything you put in your mouth? What sources did the food come from? Why did you eat the food in that quantity and at that time? When and by what sources do you hydrate?
- What time do you go to bed and what time to you get up every night?
- Why do you love your sport?
- How are you a student of the game?
- What makes a good leader and in what ways do you demonstrate those skills both on and off the field?
- In what ways are your intangibles as good as or better than your tangibles?
- Tell me about your last game. (If they start talking about themselves first and not the team, you can stop the questions and move on to another prospect.)
- For the five best pitchers in your league: What velo do they sit at? How many pitches can they control or command? How often do they start a hitter with a non-fastball for a strike? Describe the spin axis of the off-speed pitches for each of them. What are their out pitches? What is their attack plan for you? How often do you swing and miss at one of their pitches? When you put the ball in play against them, how often is your contact efficiency at 90% or better? What is your RISP against them?
- In what specific ways do your pre-game and between inning routines make you a better athlete and a better player?
- What is the difference between coaches playing their nine best players v. their best nine players?
- What is the average pop-time for a catcher in your league and how many stolen bases do you have against the best of them?
- What is the average transfer time for an outfielder in your league?
- What is the average exit velo of one of your batted balls off of a tee into a screen set 20’ away?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your game?
- What positions can you play and are you willing to play for us?
- With two outs in the last inning and the winning run in scoring position, what more than anything else will contribute to the success of a hitter in getting the run home?
- In what ways have you overcome adversity in your life on and off the field?
I think you can see that if a coach were to ask their recruits these questions, their success at recruiting quality players would be very high. Similarly, if high school players by their life experiences and education were prepared to give good answers to these questions, their options to play for high quality coaches and programs would be high. More importantly, both would not only be champions, but Champions for Life.