Questions for the Coach

by Anita Nolan | Last updated

            If you want to play soccer in college, you’ll be meeting with a few coaches.  They’ll be trying to get a feel for you, and you’ll want to do the same with them.  While you’re there, you’ll also want to gather some information to help you decide if you’d like to attend that school and what your chances of playing on the team are.

            Go to the interview with a few questions—and be prepared to make an impression.  Arrive on time or a couple minutes early.  A suit isn’t necessary, but be neatly dressed.  Don’t slouch or mumble. 

            Act interested in the school, even if it isn’t high on your list.  Things have a way of changing.  A school that isn’t even on your radar might become the one you’re most interested in, so don’t dismiss any school, especially not one where the coach has taken an interest in you, before you’ve thoroughly checked it out.

            You may have a parent with you, but make sure you take the lead in the interview.  Your mother or father won’t be attending the school or playing on the team, and you want to make sure that you, rather than your parent, is who the coach remembers.

            Be prepared for the coach to ask you a few questions.  Likely possibilities are: How is your high school or club season going?  Why are you interested in our school?  What other sports do you play or activities do you participate in? 

            The coach will likely give you a tour of the athletic center and the soccer facilities.  You’ll also want to check out the field you’d be playing on.  Most players have a preference as to artificial or natural turf, so check it out.  Some soccer teams have their own locker rooms, their own equipment center, and a laundry that washes their uniforms.  Some have weight rooms and trainers in addition to the coaching staff.  Make note of the facilities as you tour the building, or ask about them if the coach doesn’t show you around.

            You’ll want to ask how many players have graduated over the last few years.  This will give an indication of the emphasis the school puts on academics.  You’ll want to compare the percentage of athletes who graduate to the graduation percentage of the total student population.  If the school graduates a dramatically lower percentage of players than non-athletes, that can be a warning that academics aren’t a priority for athletes. 

            Does the school provide tutoring for athletes?  Will you receive academic counseling?  (This is more often the case at D I than D III schools.)  Academic counselors will help with course selection so your class schedule will least conflict with games, training, and travel.  They’ll help keep you from over-scheduling, especially during soccer season. 

            If the school has tutors, ask whether they are free or at a cost to you.  Some schools have required study halls for athletes.  They can be a good thing, especially if you’ve had trouble keeping up with assignments in high school.

            You’ll want to inquire as to the conference.  If you’ve checked out the team’s website in advance, you’ll already know how many games the team plays during the season, and how successful the team has been in recent years.  The more successful they’ve been, the more competition for a spot you’ll likely face. 

            You might ask which school the coach considers to be their toughest competitor within the conference.  Ask what the team does in the off-season.  The amount of off-season play varies by conference and some schools make a trip internationally on a regular basis. 

            How much does the team travel?  If you’ve checked the schedule, you’ll know if the team plays some long-distance games.  Is there a team bus or do they fly?  How many players travel to away games?  How is that determination made?

            Ask if you’re being recruited for a specific position.  You might be expected to move to a spot you haven’t played.  You’ll want to think about how you feel about changing positions. 

            What are your chances of having significant playing time as a freshman or sophomore?  At many schools, only the standout freshmen see the field, but there are circumstances, such as a school that is rebuilding its program, where freshmen start.  Several years ago a new coach started rebuilding the Kenyon College soccer program, and almost all starters were freshmen and the team came in first in regular season conference play.  See if the coach can give you an indication of how they see you contributing to the team, and when they expect you to get significant playing time.

            Ask if any players typically red-shirt, what are the reasons for red-shirting, and if any red-shirted players will be activated in the coming year. 

            Some schools have a junior varsity program.  If this school does, find out how many players are on each.  Is the JV squad used to feed the varsity program?  Is there movement between the two, or if you start the year on JV, will you remain there?

            As to the coaching staff, ask who will be working with the players in your position.  What is their experience?  Is there a strength coach?  What type of conditioning will you be expected to do?

            What equipment is provided to you?  What are you expected to buy yourself?

            Other questions will likely come to mind as you talk with the coach, but if you enter the interview prepared with a few questions of your own, you’ll leave with a good feeling as to where the school falls on your list.

            Finally, if, after visiting the campus and speaking to the coach, you realize you aren’t interested in attending that school, tell the coach.  He’ll appreciate the honesty.  It frees his time to focus on other players who might be a good fit for his team.

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