Coaching Today

Conducting Exit Interviews_MH 

By John Underwood

Conducting Exit Interviews_Sample LetterExit interviews with high school senior athletes are used to encourage student evaluation, reflection and goal-setting as they transition to higher education and/or military services. The purpose of the interview with the athletic director is for the student-athlete to share his or her experiences and perspectives about the program.

The actual responses are kept confidential and should be read only by the athletic director or the building principal. The survey results should be discussed in general terms with the school’s athletic advisory committee to help determine strengths and weaknesses of the athletic program and to help decide where changes and/or improvements should be made.

The Process 

The athletic director should bring in some senior graduating athletes during the last week of school. They should be thanked for the contributions they made to the school’s athletic program. After discussing their future plans, the athletic director can ask the student-athlete about their willingness to help with a program to deter drug use. Let them know that they don't have to take part if they don't want to. Following are some suggested questions.

Chemical Health Behaviors of Concern 

  • Did you enjoy the athletic experience at____________ HS?
  • Are there athletes who use social drugs?
  • Do they party after games/contests?
  • What grade does the partying begin in?
  • Are there any teams that party? What are the big party teams? When do they use drugs?
  • Do any of our team leaders party?
  • Where do they use drugs?
  • What are the local party places? How do they acquire the drugs?
  • Are any athletes using supplements or PEDS?
  • Where do they get them?
  • Are there parents who facilitate parties?
  • Do athletes respect/follow our code of conduct?
  • Do athletes see athletics as a privilege?
  • Do younger class athletes have lifestyle issues?
  • What percent of athletes on your team party?
  • Do you think your coach is aware of the partying?
  • Did the senior leadership set the example for the teams?
  • Are there any behaviors of concern that we should know about?

Coaching Critique by Athletes 

  • Were your coaches' expectations for the past season realistic?
  • Did your coach give enough praise for results and effort?
  • Did you coach give positive feedback?
  • Did your coach encourage results or demand results?
  • Does your coach set a good example as a role model?
  • Does your coach ever degrade or demean you?
  • Does your coach know how to demonstrate the techniques of your sport?
  • Does your coach care about you as a person?
  • Does your coach separate your personal value from your performance?
  • Is your coach a good communicator?
  • Is your coach a good listener?
  • Does your coach communicate at the right time?
  • Is your coach a good teacher?
  • Was it clear before the season what was expected of you as an athlete?
  • Did all teammates follow the code of conduct this season?
  • Do you respect your coach?
  • Did you improve this season?
  • Was this a positive experience for you?
  • Does your coach treat you fairly with respect?

Post-season Interview – Athlete Perceptions of Program 

  • What is the best memory you have had during your career?
  • What is your worst memory you have had during your career?
  • What did you like most about this year's team?
  • What did you like least?
  • How would you evaluate this year's senior leadership?
  • What will be the attitudes of next year's seniors?
  • Did we achieve our team goals for the year?
  • How did the coaches help the team the most?
  • What could the coaches have done better?
  • What are your personal goals for next year?
  • What are your personal goals for your future in this sport?
  • Do you think the team followed the athletic code this season?
  • Why were we successful? Unsuccessful?
  • Who on the team had a positive impact on our season and why?
  • What were the intra-team conflicts that affected our results?
  • What specific things in the off-season do you think could help you improve as an athlete?
  • Were you satisfied with the outcome of this season?
  • Do you think our skill level improved?
  • Do you think our physical condition was sufficient?
  • Do you think our psychological state was sufficient?

Thank them for this information and let them know how vital it is in making things better for future athletes.

About the Author: A former NCAA All-American, International-level distance runner and World Masters Champion, John Underwood has coached or advised more than two dozen Olympians, including world and Olympic champions. He holds three International Olympic Solidarity diplomas for coaching and has been a crusader for drug-free sport at all levels. Underwood’s innovative program, “The Life of an ATHLETE,” has gained international prominence. He is the chemical-health consultant for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association drug prevention program.



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