How To Handle Yourself When College Coaches Call

  13 Gold Medal Mel Stewart | June 07th, 2013 | College, Featured, Lifestyle, News

Contributor, Rick Paine, is a friend and an expert on the college recruiting process. He is also the Director of Swimming at American College Connection. 

Hopefully you have been communicating with college swim coaches via email and are getting ready for them to start calling. Yes, they will be using a device called a telephone. It’s that thing that sits in your house and rings once in awhile and there is usually another person’s voice on the other end.

I realize that most young people today do most of their communicating with their thumbs. That’s not going to work in recruiting. You will have to actually use your mouth, ears and brain when communicating with college coaches.

When can coaches start calling? Division I- July 1 (one call per week), Division II- June 15 (unlimited calls and text), Division III and NAIA- no restrictions

There is nothing magic about July 1 or June 15. This is when coaches can start calling, but there are quite a few coaches who don’t pick up the phone and call on the first day so don’t be discouraged if the phone doesn’t ring off the hook.

Our American College Connection record for number of phone calls on July 1 is held by Sarah Bateman, All American at Florida. Sarah received calls from 43 college coaches on July 1. On July 2 she had to have surgery to remove the phone from her ear…….just kidding.

When you talk to college coaches on the phone, you want to set yourself apart from the other recruits by exuding self-confidence. If you want to impress the coach, practice good phone skills. You want the coach to hang up the phone excited and eager to call you next week. Go back and re-read the articled on “Selling Your Potential.”

Nothing is more grueling for a college coach than to try to carry on a phone conversation with a swimming recruit who grunts and answers in one-word sentences. Most recruits do this, and when the coach hangs up the phone they are left scratching their head wondering what you talked about.

Don’t be a bump on a log!

Coach: “John how was your meet last weekend?”
John: “It was fine.”Coach: “How has your training been going?”
John: “It’s been good.”
Coach: “Do you have any questions for me?”
John: “Duh, I don’t think so.”


Go to the team’s website and read their news articles from the end of March. A coach will highlight their season here and you can see what accomplishments the coach is excited about.

“Coach I see that your swimmers set 3 team records and you were named conference coach of the year. Congratulations.” Let the coach talk about the season. Everyone likes to be asked about their success.

Talk about yourself, your likes and dislikes. When the coach asks about school, tell them about your classes. Let them know what you enjoy doing in your spare time.

One thing all athletes can speak passionately about is their sport. Let the coach know what you really enjoy about your sport. Make them feel your excitement.

Ask the coach about the school and the team and about their goals for the team. Read the coach’s bio and ask the coach questions about where they grew up, about their family and what they like about where they live now.

“Coach I read that you have a 13 year old son. Does he swim?” Everyone likes to talk about their kids.

When you are by yourself, have an imaginary conversation with a college coach. Think of the things that you would like to know about the coach, the team, the school and the student-athletes on the team.

Coach I read on your bio that you really like to compete in triathlons. How much swimming do you do a week?” Everyone likes to talk about their passion.

Try to STAND UP and walk around when you are talking to a college coach on the phone. You will have more energy and confidence.

Make it FUN.  If the conversation is fun for you, it will be fun for the coach and you will be more likely to get another call.

If you would like to find out how to ask for a scholarship go to and submit a Free Profile.



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13 Comments on "How To Handle Yourself When College Coaches Call"

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3 years 4 months ago

These tips in the articles Mel and Braden put out, are really great help. I started reading them and followed the advice and I’m now able to try out for a walk on spot at Florida Atlantic University and work towards a scholarship my second year. I was a late bloomer in the sport so these help a lot. If I make the team, I’ll be my high school’s first division 1 swimmer. Thanks guys!

3 years 4 months ago

Thanks Rick!!!!!!!!

3 years 4 months ago

Thanks for the article. When can D1 coaches begin contacting HS juniors? Can you give a summary of what juniors can expect during the school year?

3 years 4 months ago

You are welcome. Junior’s comments below are accurate. Coaches try to get to know the recruit via email in their junior year. If your swimmer is not exchanging emails at least several times a month with college coaches, then they are not getting recruited. Toward the end of the junior year coaches are trying to decide who they will be calling on June 15 or July 1. They are also determining who they will be offering official visits to in the fall.

A new rule that was passed this year by Division II allows coaches to make contact with recruits after their sophomore year. After June 15 they can begin unlimited texts to athletes who will be upcoming juniors. This is only for D-II.

If you are serious about swimming in college you need to get your information in front of college coaches at least by the end of your sophomore year.

3 years 4 months ago

I think I got this right since I have a kid in my house who just finished her junior year. Your soon-to-be junior may have already been getting stuff in the mail. September 1 of junior year Division 1 coaches can start sending e-mail. They can continue sending stuff in the mail. Some college coaches like to beat the rush of the July 1 phone call date by having a prospective student-athlete call them before July 1 (student-athletes can call coaches but not the other way around until July 1). Not sure what exactly happens in D-2/D-3/NAIA but sounds like a lot less restictive than D-1. Also, service academies don’t have to play by the D-1 rules (they are more like D-2/D-3/NAIA).

3 years 4 months ago

Also, coaches may want to come to a practice and watch a swimmer so junior year/summer after junior year might be the time for that. Nothing other than a “one-minute” conversation/exchange of pleasantries/talk about the weather between coach and swimmer can occur during such observations. Official visit invitations may go out via e-mail before July 1 depending on the school but most schools probably want to at least talk to a kid on or around July 1 before such offers are made. In-home visits can also be set up before July 1 but those probably happen only if coach has already met with the swimmer previously (e.g., on an unofficial visit) and has very high interest in that swimmer. In-home visits, like the coach-initiated phone calls, can’t happen until July 1.

3 years 4 months ago

Thanks for the great details. Our child has received numerous questionnaires at this point (all filled in and returned!), so I suppose we will wait for the e-mail contacts to begin. Thanks Junior, and thanks to Rick.

3 years 4 months ago

I’m curious how/if the NCAA handles social media contact. I would imagine more coaches.. especially the younger group of assistant level guys coming up…might gravitate towards that. Just a thought…

3 years 4 months ago

Yes, the NCAA handles social media. A public posting to a prospective student-athlete is considered an impermissible electronic transmission, similar to text messages, which are not currently allowed. Friending or following a prospective student-athlete is impermissible per NCAA bylaws.

3 years 4 months ago

Actually, “friending” IS permissible. In DI for sports other than basketball and ice hockey, it is permissible to accept or initiate a friend request (or be in a Google+ circle) of a prospect AFTER September 1 of the prospect’s junior year.

Prospects may “follow” a coach at any time. .

Stuart Cromarty
3 years 4 months ago

Probably THE most important aspect for recruits is to make sure you respond to coaches email’s in a TIMELY manner! Swimmers that take days to answer an email are going to find that coaches quickly lose interest in them.

A good protocol is to answer within 24 hours AND coaches should have the same protocol if a recruit asks a question. This means that recruits and coaches need to READ their email on a daily basis

3 years 4 months ago

Good Article… it does help to practice. For many swimmers this is the first time they have to have this kind of conversation …


About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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