College Recruiting Tips: What a Coach is Looking For

College Recruiting Tips: What a Coach is Looking For

I had a great conversation with a parent last week that prompted me to write this article.  He mentioned that his player didn’t “give their all” in a recent game at a tournament only to find out afterward that a college coach was in the stands.  Ouch.

As I thought about it, I realized that there are a couple of ways to look at this.  First, you can say it was just a bad game and brush it off.  Secondly, (and this is where we’re heading), this is a course correction that needs to be dealt with right away.  Hear me out.

Don’t Let Years of Preparation Vaporize in a Minute

Last week we talked about the funnel and how the opportunities to play at the next level get progressively harder and the competition for those spots on the roster grow more intense.  And, with that narrowing, the tangibles (athletic ability) start to mix with the intangibles (attitude, effort, leadership, etc.).  Said differently, there are a ton of great players out there and it is the intangibles that separate one player from another.

We have all been to games and seen exceptional athletes bring down the energy of their teammates with their attitude.  And, we’ve been to games where we have seen an athlete (even with a little less skill but a ton of heart) lift everyone around them.  You can just feel it.

Now, put yourself in the college coach’s shoes.  Which athlete do you want?  Pretty easy decision.  It is a hard lesson, but “one game” really can have a significant impact on your future college career.

Let’s Play Every Game as if a College Coach is Watching

Here is a checklist of things you, as an athlete, can do to make a strong impression:


Energy.  Bring it.  Warm up with enthusiasm, focus and intensity.

Encourage everyone. Greet every player and every coach.  Pump them up.  Watch how things change when you bring positive energy onto the field of play.

Technique.  Show your best stuff.  Crisp moves and finish the drill like a pro.

Game Time

Lead. Be a positive leader.  Keep everyone together.

Always on.  Your demeanor and body language has got to be positive and you need to engage with those around you in a positive and uplifting way.  Hustle everywhere you go – to the huddle, off the field, back to your position – whatever you’re supposed to do or are asked to do.  Do it right now.

Effort.  Every play needs to demonstrate full effort even if something goes wrong.  Get back to full speed immediately.  Hit the reset button.

Celebrate together.  Be genuinely enthusiastic when you or someone else has a win.

Be respectful. Always, always, always be respectful of the referee, your team, the other team, your coach and anyone you come in contact with during the game.

Compete.  Every play.  Give your absolute best as one play can make the difference between a win and a loss.

Be teachable.  If your coach gives you instruction during the game, listen and apply what they tell you.

Take correction positively.  If you get benched, tell the coach you will be ready when he or she calls on you again and you will do your absolute best.  Then, get to the sideline and cheer your team on.

Post Game

Shake hands with everyone you can find – starting with your teammates, the other team, the coaches from your team and the other team and the referees.

Keep your head up during the post game wrap up.  Listen to what your coach says and make a point to go up to them afterward and say thank you.

Go see your family.  If the coach allows it, go up to your parents, grand parents and siblings and thank them for being at the game.

Put Yourself in the College Coach’s Position

You have just finished watching the game and you saw the athlete you were interested in check off everything on this list.  What’s next?  I think it is a pretty safe bet that you would likely make your way to the field and introduce yourself as this is someone who can help you build a team.

Let’s give the college coaches what they are looking for and make the decision to recruit you an easy one.

Have a great week.


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