Let’s face it, competing at the college level is one of the greatest accomplishments a young athlete can achieve. It takes great athleticism, hard work, and perseverance, but one of the biggest deciders of your future as a collegiate athlete is college coaches. A bad first impression on a coach could affect your future with his or her school. Coaches want to see the real you and how you carry yourself, so face-to-face meetings and things you do behind the scenes are crucial to your success. Below are a few qualities coaches look for in high school athletes. Display some of these and you’ll be on the right path to playing on the big stage.

Hard Work Ethic On and Off the Field

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

When you are being considered for a spot on a college team, you clearly have the talent to play, but coaches are not only concerned with how well you perform, they also want to see how well you prepare, how hard you train, and how you handle yourself off the field. Coaches want to see athletes who earn good grades, join clubs in school, volunteer in community service, and, most importantly, show that no matter what they do, they put 100-percent effort into it. A successful athlete who studies tape spends hours in the weight room, and works as hard as possible to perfect his or her craft has the true makings of a collegiate athlete.

Good Sportsmanship

“It is your response to winning and losing that makes you a winner or a loser.”

The characteristics of a true champion are displayed when the game is finished. Coaches not only look at your talent during the game but also how you relate to your opponents, teammates, and coaches. Throwing fits after a bad call, taunting other athletes, or rubbing in a win while a college scout is watching could ruin your shot at playing for that school. Student-athletes not only represent themselves, but they also represent the entire school for which they play. You should treat everyone you play for and even against with respect. A coach has no choice but to respect that.

Be Goal-Oriented

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

Building a path to achieve your goals shows a coach you are dedicated to succeeding. Even a small goal—like stretching for 10 minutes every day after practice—is a great place to start. Make your goals are SMART goals and you’ll be on your way to achieving greatness.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Setting a long-term goal and creating smaller goals around your big idea are great tools to use in any aspect of life. Most of the time, if you follow your own SMART goals, you will find the steps you need to take to achieve it in the time frame you set for yourself. If you find yourself talking to a college coach, one question he or she is likely to ask you is, “What are your plans for this year?” This is an open invitation to talk about your goals and display your driven mindset. Show you are organized and proactive, and they will definitely be impressed.

Passion for the Game

“It is not the size of an athlete but the size of their heart that matters.”

You can’t teach heart; it takes a special kind of athlete to display true passion. Every kid wants to win a championship, but when you’re willing to go the extra mile to get to where you want to be, you have true dedication. A coach can tell how passionate you are by the way you play. The emotion you carry on your shoulders says a lot about you. It shows how much you care and what you’re willing to do for your team as well. If you are an athlete who loves the game you play and can’t think of anything else you would rather be doing, you deserve to compete at the college level.

Desire to Be the Best

“A champion is someone who gets up when they can’t.”

There comes a time in a young athlete’s life when he or she knows where they are and where they want to be. Knowing you want to succeed stays with you and is your motivation for every step you take toward your goal. Desiring to be the best doesn’t necessarily mean breaking world records. It means reaching your absolute highest potential. When you possess this trait, it shows a coach that you have fire in your eyes and want nothing but success. Athletes are some of the most competitive people in the world, but there is no reason why you can’t compete with yourself also. Beat your best time, do one more rep, go a little farther than last time, and make yourself better today than you were yesterday. Be the best you can be and results will follow. Coaches look for more than face value, so display your desire and potential for continued growth. Impose your will to be the best, and coaches will become interested in what you have to offer.

Did you enjoy the article ‘5 Hidden Qualities College Coaches Look For In Athletes’? If so, check out The 5 Qualities of Every Successful Recruit, or more of our articles HERE.

This article originally appeared on stack.com

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