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Asking Your Swimming and Diving Recruits ‘Super Qualifying’ Questions

Written By: Dan Tudor

If you’ve seen the classic movie “Jerry McGuire,” you’ll remember this scene:

Jerry, a pro sports agent played by Tom Cruise, is at a crucial point in his “recruitment” of the star #1 draft pick that is being courted by a rival agency that fired Jerry earlier in the movie. Jerry is the hotel room of the star and his father. Jerry, through a phone call from the rival, finds out that his million-dollar superstar made a commitment with his rival even after the father promises Jerry that they’ll sign with him earlier in the story.

If you’ve seen the movie, do you remember the pain on Jerry’s face as he realizes that he’s just been undercut by his rival and lied to by his would-be client? That was the only time in cinematic history that I’ve seen an actor smiling from ear-to-ear to keep a straight face, while the blood vessels in his forehead were bulging out under beads of sweat.

If you’ve been recruiting swimmers and divers at the college level for a while, you’ve probably experienced a similarly frustrating experience:

You’ve been working your rear end off trying to get a commitment from a prospect. Phone calls. Texts. E-mails. Maybe even a personal visit to watch them compete or work out. In your heart, you think you’ve got the prospect. The prospect may have even told you that they were going to commit to your school. “It’s a done deal”, you think. And then it happens. You find out that your prospect that you’ve worked so hard for just committed to another swimming and diving program.

Your facial expression probably looked a lot like Jerry McGuire when that happened.

So, how do you prevent something like that from happening again? Is there anything that you can do that will guarantee that your prospect won’t turn his or her back on you and sign on with your rival?

Well, of course, nothing is “guaranteed.” But there is a type of question that you can ask that will really go a long way towards cementing a prospect’s commitment with you.

It’s what I call a “super-qualifying question.” It goes a little deeper than the basic questions many coaches end up asking a prospect as they get ready to decide by doing one very important thing: It assumes their commitment, and then takes it a step further by asking the prospect to tell you how they’re going to handle other schools that are recruiting them.

Here are some quick examples:

“How do you think the other swimming coach will react when they find out you have committed to us?”

“What will you do if the other swimming and diving programs try to counter with {fill-in-the-blank-offer}?”

“What will your parents do when the other program counters with {fill-in-the-blank-offer}?”

“Do you believe that the package you have with us is the best one that you can make for yourself and your college education / swimming and diving career?”

Powerful. Simple. Very, very effective.

Will it “guarantee” a commitment from your prospect? No. Nothing can do that short of a signed letter of intent can do that. But these questions will force your prospect to do one of two things: Lie to your face (difficult to do in this instance, don’t you think?), or be very honest with you, and reveal how they’re picturing their post-commitment future with you.

Try it the next time you’re feeling like you’re in a “Jerry McGuire moment” with one of your swimming or diving prospects.

Dan Tudor is a regular speaker at the CSCAA and is the Founder of Tudor Collegiate Strategies, a nationally respected athletic recruiting advisory firm that specializes in training coaching staffs to communicate and recruit their prospects more effectively. Dan has been referred to as “America’s recruiting coordinator” thanks to his company’s cutting-edge strategies, research and ongoing advice to the college coaching community. Dan and his team at Tudor Collegiate Strategies conducts recruiting workshops at athletic departments around the country, as well as serving several hundred individual coaching staffs as clients as he and his staff help to craft their recruiting strategy and communication. You can contact Dan directly at


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