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Winning the Coach's Approval: How Negative Traits Impact Player Recruitment

As a recruiter, I am often asked what qualities I look for when scouting young athletes. Of course, skills and talent are important, but what many don't realize is that a player's attitude off the court can be just as crucial. Personally, I am drawn to kids who have respect for their personal space and those around them, show gratitude towards their parents and coaches, and demonstrate positive body language on the court. Additionally, eye contact during conversations is a sign of engagement and respect that I highly value. These may seem like small details, but they speak volumes about a player's character and can significantly impact their recruitment process. On the other hand, negative traits such as poor sportsmanship or undisciplined behavior can quickly turn a coach away from a potential recruit. My aim for this article is to give sound advice for upcoming athletes so you can increase your chances of playing at the next level.


When recruiting potential student-athletes (PSAs), I look for specific traits and behaviors on and off the court. However, certain negative qualities can turn me in another direction. Lack of discipline and respect are a couple of those negative traits. If a player cannot respect their coach's instruction and won't follow team rules, the team's performance will be affected. Another negative trait is a poor attitude and work ethic. I intently watch how a player warms up. Are you focused? Are you intentional? Or are you messing around— frequently stopping to chat or address onlookers? Players with these traits tend to be self-centered, lacking enthusiasm and motivation to work for the team's success.


Student-athletes need to take heart Matthew 5:16, "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven," which reminds them of their responsibility to be positive role models both on and off the court. Living a life of good deeds and strong moral character can serve as an example to others and bring glory to God. This can also have a positive impact on personal and professional relationships, as well as future opportunities.


I am not a big fan of players who can't handle constructive criticism. It's a total buzzkill when someone gets defensive or shuts down after receiving feedback instead of using it to grow and improve. Coaches want athletes who care about education, so being a slacker in school is a no-go. Other things that turn coaches off include acting like a total diva, not being truthful, being shady, and having bad social media manners (poor language, being inappropriately sexualized, drug and alcohol paraphernalia, etc.). Observing an athlete being disrespectful towards their family can be concerning as it raises questions about their conduct towards others. Given the investments families make in club volleyball, a player's ungrateful behavior may impact their potential fit with our team's culture and dynamics. Ephesians 4:29 states, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what helps build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." To summarize, avoiding these negative traits can make you more recruitable and make you a better HUMAN.


If you're looking to impress coaches and recruiters, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances. Start by being honest with yourself and identify areas that might need work; a particular volleyball skill, attitude, your social media presence, or work ethic. Take some time to check out committed PSA social media pages, they'll give you an idea of what recruiters are looking for (if that coach looks for what I look for). You can also reach out to coaches or mentors for feedback and guidance; they know what recruiters are after and can give you some great tips. Once you've figured out your weak spots, try to improve them. And don't forget to highlight your academic accomplishments - coaches love players who are as committed to their studies as they are to their sport! By proactively showcasing your skills and addressing any areas that need improvement, you can position yourself as a desirable PSA for recruiters.


To sum up, player recruitment in college athletics is crucial for team success, and coaches consider players' skills, behaviors, and positive traits when making selections. While negative behaviors may hurt players' chances, they can overcome them through self-reflection, guidance, improvement, and academic commitment. Therefore, athletes can enhance their recruitment chances by cultivating positive attributes and highlighting their existing strengths.



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