You’ll hear quite often that the recruiting process is different for every student athlete. That’s because, regardless of the sport, every athlete is unique. But, what makes recruiting confusing for many is the fact that every coach has their own unique approach to the process. However, while every coach may look for different things in a recruit, in general, every coach in every sport looks for these character traits in their recruits:
Coaches want athletes who can fight through adversity and come out stronger. Whether it’s an injury, a mistake, or simply a bad game, your ability to be strong, courageous, and motivated when things are tough will score points with college coaches.
Though they may all approach it differently, coaches want to get to know you to ensure you’d be a good fit with their team. And to do that, coaches want to see the real you. Being authentic, opening yourself up to a coach, and showing him or her that your personality will mesh with their team is the trait they want to see in every recruit.
For many recruits, going off to college is their first experience without the rigid framework of school and home life. Coaches want to see that you have the discipline and organizational skills to not only handle that extra freedom, but also the extra work you’ll have to put in as a student-athlete in college.
Simply put, if you aren’t coachable, you likely aren’t a team player. If you don’t listen to, and apply, what a coach tells you, you’ll quickly get a reputation for being uncoachable. And an athlete who puts him- or herself before the team likely won’t wind up playing a team sport in college.
Being flexible can fall under resilience, organization, or coachability. In most cases, coaches look for athletes who are willing to change or bend their mindset to conform to how the team trains, practices, or plays. To a coach, being flexible could mean as little as changing your routine to fit the team structure or as big as changing positions to help the team improve.
It should be no secret that coaches want to win. And to do that, they look for players with a passion for their sport. Passion shows a coach that you’re willing to work hard to improve and to help the team win. Passion means a willingness to push yourself through adversity. Passion shows a coach your dedication to doing what’s needed to make yourself, and the team, better.
It’s a given that coaches look for athletes with solid grades and entrance exam scores. A good academic record in high school demonstrates you can handle the load in college. But coaches also look for game IQ and the ability to think through your sport. Your athletic abilities may get you recruited, but your athletic IQ is what can get you to the next level.
Initially, coaches want to see you doing the talking, not your parents. They’re recruiting you, not your family, so you’re who they want to get to know. Beyond that, coaches also look for athletes who can effectively communicate their interest in a program, while also having the ability to reach out to coaches, teachers, and teammates if they need help, support, or assistance. Remember that asking for help is never a sign of weakness.
Leadership is one of those intangible qualities that every coach may define differently, but also one every coach looks for. Remember that you can lead by speaking out or speaking up, but you can also lead just as well by the example you set for others to follow.
Humility may fall under flexibility and coachability, but being humble means taking that chip off your shoulder and realizing that, while you may be a top athlete as a high school junior or senior, you may start at the bottom when you get to college. Being humble means being able to understand that and fit in, while also being considerate and always giving your best effort.
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