I received this question a few months back when talking to a parent of a senior football player in a recent class. This mom talked about how her son is not very talkative (it happens a lot in teenagers) and he is especially shy on the phone to people he doesn’t know. What the parent worried about most is will his lack of communication skills make him look bad in the eyes of college coaches and hurt his chances of a scholarship offer?
For the most part, I do believe that college coaches know that many high school athletes are not talkative. They are rather quiet, like to be left alone, and keep to themselves. But these coaches are paid to build relationships with athletes that help them bring in talented players. The more talented players that they bring in, regardless of their social skills, in turn helps them win football games and keep their job.
College coaches will do absolutely everything they can to get athletes to answer questions in more than just a “yes” or “no” matter. They will ask loaded questions and do what they can to have even the shiest athletes open up and start a dialogue between the two.
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So would a college coach stop recruiting an athlete if they are shy? I guess that really depends as I have heard a number of different cases where the coaches have been turned off by the response from the athlete. The other case is that the kid really does not talk to anyone so his responses on the phone are part of his normal everyday life.
In the first case I mentioned, the coach will be doing everything he can to judge if your son is shy or just thinks he is too good for the school. I spoke with a college coach about a recruit a few years back and the coach was telling me about how the recruit thought he was too good for their school (they are Division III) and it was obvious on the phone. The recruit didn’t return many calls, wasn’t excited about talking to this college coach, and felt their school was beneath him. The coach at the program gave up recruiting him because of his attitude towards them (just to let you know, that same recruit ended up transferring from a Division II school back to that Division III program years later).
There was also another recruit in the second case where this kid excelled on the basketball court. But when you got him in a social situation, he struggled mightily. It was bad enough that I heard from two different college coaches about his lack of communication skills. This was more than him thinking he was better then the two schools. He didn’t talk to anyone and it was something his high school coach even told them going in. Both coaches continued to recruit him and one even offered him a scholarship.
In most situations, I honestly believe that if an athlete is not social and it is obvious, the coach will continue to recruit them. Very rarely does a coach (especially at the scholarship level) cross a kid off their recruiting list because they lack social skills and fail to ask questions. It is because the coach doesn’t have a good feel for the recruit and thinks that his yes/no answers means that he is not interested.
If this is a situation that you are worried about, it is important to practice beforehand to see what type of responses that your son will have. If they are willing to do this, helping their overall speaking skills will be a big benefit for this and many other things in the future. The prep work will only help.