Yes, being recruited by a college coach requires an athlete to possess more than just god-given talent. Being recruited entails a myriad of requirements that far surpass one’s ability to play the game. A college coach is likely to take an interest in players who are physically strong, athletic, versatile, and powerful among many physical aspects, but what many players fail to take into consideration is the importance of an individual’s personal qualities that contribute to team success as well as individual success. A player’s character and psychological approach to the game plays a pivotal role in the recruiting process that is too frequently overlooked.
1. Team Player: Being someone who puts his teammates before himself without question. Athletes who possess this quality believe in the idea that personal accolades are given to those who believe in the upmost importance of team success over individual accomplishments. Role playing, reliability, and consistency are key attributes of a team player. Knowing your role as a teammate is essential to a team’s success. College coaches look to recruit a player like Ryan Theriot of the Chicago Cubs, who is willing to move around the infield to play wherever his team needs him the most. Rather than swinging for the fences during each at bat, he looks to start things off with a base hit. Knowing your job on your team is necessary in the overall development of the team as a whole, and is something that a coach is highly aware of during the recruiting process.
2. Sports IQ: Sports IQ can be described as an athlete’s knowledge of their sport and how well they execute their knowledge in game situations. In a 2009 poll taken by NBA coaches and players, Kobe Bryant, shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, was voted as having the highest basketball IQ among all NBA players, which greatly correlates Bryant’s success as arguably one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The ability to fully understand your sport contributes to the level of play that an athlete can potentially reach. The mental mastery of one’s game is an attribute that is highly desired among college coaches.
3. Strong Work Ethic: A strong work ethic is a valuable determinant of an athletes’ potential. Possessing a solid work ethic gives a player the ability to far surpass his inherent talent. If you are a player who is not as naturally talented or athletic as your teammates, you can develop your skills to help transform into the player that you strive to become. Five-time all-star Steve Nash claims that he was never as fast or explosive as other players in the league. In order to make up for his lack of explosiveness on the court, Nash embraced his other, more established qualities such as his balance, coordination, and momentum. Nash trains extensively to make up for his weaknesses in the weight room which translates directly on to the court. Noticing your weaknesses and eliminating them or even making up for them allows for a player who is good to become great. Learning the importance of having a strong work ethic at a young age is an important factor that has a direct influence on a player’s abilities and eventual recruitment.
4. Coachability: Coachability is seen as a player’s ability to listen and seek help when it comes to their skills and apply what they have learned in game-like situations. It is easy to listen and take advice from your coaches, but learning to apply one’s learned skills is a very valuable contributor to a player’s success. Pat Summitt, head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols, reiterated the importance of coachability by saying, “A lot of players think they are coachable because they give effort. But the really coachable ones are those who correct their mistakes,” meaning the most successful players are those who learn and practice what they are taught. This is a concept that coaches are highly responsive to, and an aspect of recruiting that is high in demand.
5. Leadership Ability: There is a high demand for potential collegiate athletes who possess beneficence and exemplary character as a teammate. A leader is someone who is trusted and reliable and who exemplifies passion and love for his or her sport. Whether you’re an athlete like LeBron James, who leads his team with his vivacious personality and in your face style of play, or Jonathan Toews, a hard working, leads by example kind of guy, coaches are always going to take notice. Former GM of the Blackhawks Dale Tallon explained the value that the Blackhawk’s leader Jonathan Toews has to the organization, “Jonny has impeccable character. He’s so serious, so dedicated, so committed. Why would you not want to follow this guy? Good things happen around him.” Success follows talented leaders, an idea which college coaches have grown very aware of. They understand the benefits of having a player on their team like Jonathan Toews who has shown that he can lead his team to the Stanley Cup.