Congratulations! You have successfully scheduled a meeting with the college coach of your dream university. This is your time to make a lasting impression and to stick out in a positive way.
As a college coach I want to meet the athlete to see if he would be a good fit for my program. Most athletes bring their parents to the meeting as well which is fine. I’m interested to see how the player interacts with his parents. Is Mom doing all the talking? Or is the athlete always looking for reassurance from his parents before answering questions? Keep in mind, I am recruiting the player, not the parents. I want mature players on my team, players that are responsible and independent, players that can make their own difficult decisions and I want players that can think freely and on their own.
I understand that picking a college is a major decision and it’s a decision that needs to be made as a family, especially the financial considerations are often the decision of the parents and not the child. However, I’m amazed how many times the parents are actually the ones doing all the talking. It immediately raises red flags for me. If the athlete is shy, too bad. It is time to step up and be your own person!
A couple of days before the meeting
My last blog entry discussed what you needed to do to get a college coach to notice you. Now you have your meeting set up and you need to do some more homework before the meeting. Educate yourself about the team roster and the game schedule. Ideally you should have watched the team play before your meeting with the coach, either in a game or in a practice. This gives you a general idea of the level of the team and if you can see yourself play for the team. It also gives you a perfect conversation topic for your meeting.
You should email the coach a couple of days before the meeting to confirm the time and the location of the meeting. This shows professionalism and maturity. I also suggest that you bring a copy of your game schedule in case the coach hasn’t seen you play yet.
On the day of the meeting you will probably be a bit nervous. This is ok. Just take a deep breath and have a couple of questions prepared and you will be fine. Make sure to be on time for the meeting and dress appropriately. I don’t think wearing a suit or khakis is necessary but some coaches might be more old school than I am. Baseball caps and baggy or ripped jeans are a no. Remember you want to make an impression and represent yourself the best you can.
Questions to Ask?
MAKE SURE TO ASK QUESTIONS!
This is the only way you are going to find out if the coach has a serious interest in you and how he or she sees your role on the team. Also, if you are not asking any questions, a coach might think that you don’t have a serious interest in the school or the team. This also gives you an opportunity to ask questions about the school and academics, about the area and campus life and about the goals and expectations of the team and you as a player. Keep in mind that you are the one doing most of the talking and the interaction and not your parents, especially when it comes down to the soccer specific questions.
There are numerous questions that you can ask a college coach and I’ve decided to list 5 questions related to soccer that I think a college soccer coach should be able to answer.
1. How do you see my role in the program?
2. What fitness requirements do you have?
3. How big do you typically keep the roster?
4. What are your future goals for me and for the team?
5. Would you consider offering me an athletic scholarship?
The above questions are not yes or no questions and ideally you want to have a back and forth conversations with the coach. Don’t be afraid to have follow- up questions before you move on to the next question. The first question is a very important question and can dictate the whole meeting. If the coach answers that he sees you as a role player with limited playing time as a freshman and your expectations are that you are a starter and should play every minute then you might have a problem. Make sure that your expectations are in line with reality. Again, if you have studied the roster and educated yourself about the current players on the team, you should have a good estimation on how you fit on the team.
The coach might be very specific with some of the questions such as fitness tests and roster size. If the coach sees you as an immediate starter on the team, he/she should also probably be able to offer you some athletic scholarship. (NCAA Div 1 and 2 offers athletic scholarships) If the coach says that you will be a role player or a practice player and that you will compete for minutes then athletic scholarship might be limited.
Once you feel that you have gotten all the answers from the coach you can finish by asking the coach if there is anything else you need to do to move forward with the process. The coach typically has a lot of experience with this type of meetings and he/she will be the one to make the meeting move forward and to end on a good note.
After the Meeting
A student who takes the time to meet the coach generally comes away with a decision on how they feel about the coach and the program. This is a time to reflect over your meeting and to discuss with your parents. Either way, make sure to follow up with a thank you email to the coach after the meeting. Thank him/her for their time and if you have any more specific questions or something that you feel you missed you can ask or mention that in this email.
Lastly, remember that college coaches are just regular people too! There is no reason to be nervous. If the coach has a genuine interest in you, you will feel it.
In Pro Sports the coach typically chooses (by a draft) his players, and in college the players choose their coach. You still have the power to make the decision based on your feeling.
If you are not comfortable with the coach or don’t like his coaching style (another reason you should go watch a game) then simply follow your gut and move on!
Good Luck with the college search!
Yours in Soccer,
Andreas Lindberg is the site director for Future Stars at Farmingdale State College. Lindberg is also the current Head Coach for Nationally ranked LIU Post Men’s Soccer Team. Under his guidance the Pioneers won the East Coast Conference Championship in 2009 and 2012. Lindberg was chosen to the East Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 2009, 2011 and 2012.