Since there is a certain degree of mystery surrounding the later stages of the recruiting process, I wanted to cut to the chase and give college coaches some fresh ideas on topics and questions that we’ve seen work in the difficult quest to get information from high school student-athletes.
They may yield nothing, or they could yield vital information that will tell you how to close them at the end of their decision making process.
All I know is that if I was a college coach who was trying to wrap-up a recruiting class late in the game, here are some of the questions I would make sure I was asking my recruits:
- Who are you leaning on to help you make a final decision? Once they tell you, ask yourself how well you’ve recruited those other individuals. If the answer is “not that well”, you know what you need to do later tonight.
- What are they telling you? Because if they answer this, you’ll know exactly where you stand with this recruit.
- Can you see yourself living here on campus? If they can’t answer that with some kind of specificity and clarity, it means they haven’t been picturing it in their mind. Which is a bad sign.
- When have you told other coaches that you’ll be letting them know what your final decision is? For all you passive-aggressive personalities out there, this one is a double-helping: You can find out when they’re probably reaching a decision, and who else they are talking to (if you ask them who those other coaches are).
- What’d you like most about the guys/girls on our team? If they don’t know, or can’t describe something specific about their time together on the visit to campus, that’s a red flag. Our research shows that how they are treated by your team is the top way they figure out if a program feels right to them.
- What are you and your parents talking about at there home when it comes the idea of coming here and playing for me? As the parent’s opinion of you and your program goes as we enter the final days of their decision making process, so goes your chances of coming to your school.
- If you were going to tell me “no” at the end of the process, what do you see being the #1 reason you’d end up doing that? Get them to play “what if” with you. Their answers are almost always based in reality. If they are going to tell you “yes” or “no”, you’ll most likely get a hint of that using theoretical situations.
- Since we can’t give you a full athletic scholarship, is it really all just going to come down to who gives you the most money? This one, of course, is for a program that can’t give a full-ride athletic or academic scholarship. For some families, the legitimate, 100% forthright answer is “Yes, Coach.” For most, it’s the fall back decision making tool that they use if they haven’t been consistently and passionately told a story about you and your program that matches their world-view of what college sports should be like. Either way, you need to know.
- What would you have to know about us to get you to feel like we were worth paying for? That’s a natural follow-up to the previous question, and a great question (and probably a more appropriate question) to ask your recruit’s parents.
- Why did we end up being one of the program’s that made your final cut? It is always a good idea to get them to verbalize why they liked you in the first place as we head into the stretch run.
- Where are you going to visit next? Maybe they’re done visiting campuses, and maybe they aren’t. If they aren’t, you need to know who else is on their list and when they are visiting that campus. And, of course, why (it’s probably because they’re still looking for something that they haven’t felt like they found on your campus).
- When do you see us being able to talk again about all this? If they answer with a date that’s sooner (in the next week or two), that’s a good sign. If they tell you they’re not sure, but they’ll “keep in touch”, that’s a red flag. It’s not a guarantee that they won’t be picking you, but would you tell your high school prom date that you’ll “keep in touch” before the big night? Probably not.
- What do you want to see us talk about next? Hopefully, they give you a new topic that is central to their decision making process that they just haven’t brought-up before. The goal during this time of the year is to keep them talking, and making sure they feel free to communicate new questions or ideas to you.
- Are you feeling like you’re ready to commit to us? If you have been through our two or three day On-Campus Workshop experience, you know how important it is to “ask for the sale”. At the end of every phone call, or every email, or every text conversation, ask for the sale. Give them the chance to tell you “yes!”, or even express to you that they aren’t ready yet. It’s important to keep the process moving forward – and, this is the best question you can ask in order to make them feel wanted.
The job of recruiting top-level student-athletes doesn’t just involve “selling” your program. Much of it, especially down the stretch, revolves around being the coach that can get them to communicate with you more than they are with your competition.
These questions are aimed at doing just that.
The right approach, using the latest techniques and research, is the cornerstone to successful, long-term recruiting. And now, there is an entire weekend dedicated to making sure coaches take the jump to next-level abilities and techniques: The National Collegiate Recruiting Conference. It’s packed with experts and fellow coaches who will be sharing how they became successful recruiters, and what you can do immediately to improve your recruiting results. Get all the details here.