In an era filled with text messages, emails, tweets and other communications, a well-placed phone call to college coaches can be extremely impactful. In fact, our research has found that the average college coach receives a mere seven phone calls from recruits each week—or fewer! Taking the time to call college coaches is a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd and get attention.
When should you start calling coaches?
The best time to start calling college coaches is after you’ve sent them a couple introductory emails. According to NCAA recruiting rules, athletes can call college coaches at any age and coaches are allowed to answer the call! However, where it gets tricky is pinpointing when coaches are allowed to initiate a call to recruits. For most sports, coaches can begin calling recruits starting September 1 of their junior year of high school. Keep this in mind as you’re calling college coaches. If the coach isn’t able to call you yet and you get sent to their voicemail, make sure you let them know when you will be calling them again, so they know to pick up the phone at that time.
To help you make the most of every coach call, we’ve included some preparation tips, sample scripts and questions. Overall, remember to be enthusiastic and passionate about the coach’s program. Coaches look to recruit athletes who genuinely are interested in their program, and phone calls are a great time to communicate your excitement.
Insider tip: If you are having a hard time getting ahold of a college coach, ask your high school or club coach to call the college coach and schedule a phone call for you. College coaches can call club/high school coaches back at any time, which makes it easier for them to get in touch. An added bonus: When the college coach is talking to your current coach, they can ask your coach questions about you to help with their initial evaluation.
How to get ready for calling college coaches
Calling college coaches takes some preparation, but if you put in the work beforehand, your call will go much smoother. And remember: College coaches have been through this process thousands of times. They understand how intimidating and nerve-wracking it can be for high school athletes to call them. If you go into the call armed with the right information and a plan, the coach will most likely be impressed with your effort so don’t worry about any small mistakes along the way.
- Practice with a friend. Before calling college coaches, role play the call with a friend. Have them play the part of the coach, and make sure they ask you tough questions (we have a list of potential questions coaches will ask you outlined below) that you will receive when you’re calling college coaches.
- Do your research about the school and program before calling. Make sure you have a few key facts about the school and the team at hand. If you can, call coaches while you’re in front of a computer, laptop or tablet. Open up a few different tabs you can use for reference: the school website, some articles about the team and the team roster, as well as your phone call script and your list of questions for the coach. Have your initial emails to the coach open, too, so you can reference when you sent them, and you can resend them if the coach asks.
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Coach Chris Sartorius, who has coached men’s and women’s basketball at three different Division I schools, says, “Coaches want to have a good, personal conversation.” He adds, “If your family wants to listen, that’s fine, but make sure that you aren’t distracted.” If you feel more comfortable taking the call alone, let your family know you need to be in a quiet room without distractions and fill them in on the call afterwards.
- Call coaches between 6-9 p.m. when they are in season. Before you start calling college coaches, consider what times throughout the day and week they will be available to talk. Coach Sartorius explains, “Typically, I’d get out of practice around 6 p.m. and be talking to recruits anywhere from 6:30-11 p.m. at night,” Coach Sartorius explains. If the coach isn’t in season, there is more flexibility to call them in the morning or afternoon. However, if you’re not sure when is a good time to call a college coach, just ask them!
Insider tip: Try calling college coaches during the summer. They tend to be less busy at this time, so you will have fewer practices, games and other commitments to work around.
General script for calling college coaches
When you’re calling college coaches, think of the framework for your call like this:
- Introduction, the reason you’re calling
- Why you’re interested in their program
- What you’d like to know about the program and what you’re going to do next.
To help you get a general concept of how a call with a coach will go, we’ve created a script for you to reference:
“Hi Coach Brown, my name is Jane Doe and I’m an outside hitter at ABC High School. I recently sent you an email with my highlight video and wanted to follow up with you! Do you have a few minutes to talk right now?
In your introduction, bring up the specific reason you emailed the coach: Was it is to send them your highlight video, to show them your top stats and accolades or to arrange an unofficial visit? Be specific here.
“It’s not a good time”
“No problem! When would be a better time for me to call you back?”
- Wait to see what the coach says. If they need to consult their calendar and get back to you, let them know you’ll follow up via email to schedule a better time. Try to set a meeting during this call, but if that’s not possible, don’t force it! Either way, let them know you’ll be in touch.
- If a coach says that they are not interested in recruiting you at this point, that’s OK. You can always ask them for advice in the recruiting process. Be sure to thank them for their time.
“I can talk right now”
“Great! I’ve been following your program for a while now, and was really impressed by your win against XYZ State last weekend. I’d love to learn more about what you’re looking for in an outside hitter.
- At this point, you can start asking the questions that you have prepared. The coach will probably want to ask some questions of you, as well. Make sure that you listen attentively to what the coach has to say and take notes to reference later on.
“I have to get off the phone”: “Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me! I’ll resend you the email I sent on Tuesday so you can take a look at my highlight video when you get a chance. I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback!”
- No matter how the phone call went, be sure to thank the coach for their time. If this the first of many calls—or the only call you have with this coach—you want to leave them with a positive impression of you.
Leaving a voicemail for a college coach
In many cases when calling college coaches, you’ll get sent to their voicemail. Before you call the coach, write out exactly what you want to say if you do get their voicemail. Then, give yourself a call and leave your prepared message. Listen to how it sounds and revise your script if necessary. Here are a few key pieces of information you want to be sure to include:
- Your name
- Your high school and location
- Your position
- Your grad year
- Reason you’re calling (for example, following up on an introductory email, trying to schedule an unofficial visit, etc.)
- How you will be following up (via email, phone, etc.)
- The best number to contact you at
- A closing “thank you for your time”
We’ve included a sample script to help you get started in writing yours:
“Hi Coach Brown, my name is Jane Doe and I’m an outside hitter at ABC High School and will be graduating in 2020. I’m calling to follow up on an email I sent on September 1. I’d love to know what you thought of my highlight video and if you have any feedback for me.
“I’ll give you a call back tomorrow, September 28th at 7:30 p.m., and I’ll resend my email so you can check out my highlight video. My phone number is 123-456-7890. Thank you so much and I’m looking forward to talking to you!”
Insider tip: Try to keep your voicemail to less than 45 seconds.
Questions to ask college coaches
When you’re calling college coaches, you need to have a list of questions prepared to ask them, which you will customize for each individual coach you’re talking to. For example, if you’re speaking with a coach at a highly competitive academic school, focus on academic-based questions. We’ve included some questions below that can help you get started.
- What are the most popular majors for athletes on your team?
- Does your team have an academic advisor and/or tutoring available to athletes?
- Are there any specific majors that would interfere with the athletic schedule?
- What are good academic goals I should strive for to meet the criteria of your university?
Athletics / Recruiting Process
- How is your recruiting class looking for my graduation year?
- What’s the best way to update you on my progress?
- Are there any camps, combines or showcases that you’d recommend I go to?
- Where do you typically evaluate your athletes?
- If I come to your school for an unofficial visit, would you be able to meet with me?
Cultural / Social Fit
- How do the athletes on your team interact with each other? Do they hang out together outside of practice and games?
- What is the housing situation for athletes?
- Do athletes stay on campus during the summer?
Insider tip: During your first few calls with a college coach, avoid asking for a scholarship. You need to develop a relationship with the coach before you start asking them for money. A way to ease into the conversation could including asking a question like, “What does it take to earn a scholarship with your program?”
Questions to expect from college coaches
As with any conversation, your calls with college coaches will involve you asking questions and the coach asking some in return. No matter how tough the question, the best policy is honesty. If you are asked a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t be afraid to tell the coach you’re not sure, but you’ll get back to them later when you have the answer. Take a deep breath and a second to think before responding if you need it. To help you prepare for coach questions in advance, we’ve created a list of questions coaches will like you ask you during an initial phone call. We recommend that you prepare your responses to these questions before you start calling college coaches.
- How are you doing in school: What is your GPA and test scores?
- What major are you interested in?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses as a player? What are you currently working on improving?
- What kind of training have you been doing?
- Why are interested in my school and/or program?
- What are your interests or hobbies outside of your sport?
- What other schools are you interested in?
- What other schools are recruiting you?
- Why do you think you can play at this level?
Is it bad for a parent to call a college coach?
As Coach Sartorius mentioned, coaches want to get to know student-athletes during phone calls. Especially at the beginning of the recruiting process, it’s important for athletes to be the ones calling college coaches. Later in the recruiting process, parents will get the opportunity to speak more with the college coaches, especially on the topics of financials and housing. During a Positive Coaching Alliance panel Stanford head men’s golf coach Conrad Ray expressed his views on who should be calling college coaches.
“The worst thing for [coaches] in our world is if we get a phone call and it’s the mom or dad of a high school freshman or sophomore telling me how good their kid is.” Coach Ray says. “If I had a piece of advice for parents, I would say, do what you can do to really empower your kid to be able to put themselves forward.”
A lot of parents worry their athlete is just too shy or too modest—or not driven enough—to stay on top of calling coaches. If it’s between never communicating with coaches and the parents calling, then parents might need to do a little bit of the legwork to get the process moving. However, recruits will have to talk to college coaches at some point, and with the right amount of preparation, even the shiest athlete can ace their coach calls!
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