Book Excerpt: 1,001 Reasons to Conduct the Prescreening

A common complaint I hear from coaches all over the world is, “I thought the teenager wanted coaching, but it turns out the mom did.” When I hear these words, I know that the coach forgot—or simply didn’t know how—to prescreen. The purpose of prescreening is to, as best possible, confirm that the adolescent or young adult is ready, willing, and able to enroll in a coaching partnership and that the parent is willing to let that process take place. The prescreening process is useful with prospective clients of all ages and is offered free of charge. In addition, prescreening often takes place in a phone call of 30 minutes or less. Some parents and young people (as well as coaches) prefer to meet in person, in which case the prescreening can be conducted in the coach’s office or in a neutral spot like a coffee shop.

Prescreening can eliminate uncomfortable surprises from occurring during the intake session. This is because when prescreening is properly conducted, an unnecessary intake never gets scheduled, because it’s clear from the prescreening that the parent or young person isn’t ready for or desirous of coaching. If an intake session does get scheduled after the prescreening, it typically goes more smoothly than it would have without the prescreening because the young person and parent have already been partially educated on the coaching process and have shown a willingness and/or motivation to play by the coaching rules. The young person and parent are also less likely to feel confused or deceived over the course of the intake session, when the coach continues the process of discussing what coaching is and how it works.

There is never a guarantee that a successful prescreening will lead to successful coaching—like with any new relationship, it takes time to build trust and create a partnership—but in many cases prescreening can help determine early on that a young person or parent is not ready for or interested in coaching.