One of my favorite sports quotes comes from the legendary coach John Wooden who said “sports don’t build character, they reveal it.” Increasingly, character is becoming an important part of the recruiting process.
College coaches are no longer only evaluating an athlete on their athletic and academic abilities, they are also looking to see what kind of a person you are. Coaches need to be sure an athlete will handle the transition to college well and having a high character recruit improves the likelihood of a recruit adjusting well. In this article we cover some of the scenarios during the recruiting process where coaches are evaluating character.
*Please note: This doesn’t mean that all athletes who don’t adjust well in college are low character. Sometimes an athlete and the school just aren’t the right fit. However, in order to avoid academic and off the field issues, coaches are are increasingly looking for high character recruits.
Who Handles the Difficult Conversations?
When discussing things like playing time and scholarships, it is easy for parents to what to jump in on behalf of their athlete. Our advice is to hold off and let the athlete handle the majority of the conversation. I like the 80/20 rule, where the athlete should ask 80% of the questions and parents 20%. As a parent you can help your athlete prepare by having pre-written questions they should ask the coach. When an athlete shows a willingness to handle difficult conversations, it shows a coach they will be able to handle the new challenges once they get to college.
Don’t Make a Coach Ask Twice
When coaches send out invites to camps, requests for transcripts or other forms of paper work, they are evaluating an athlete on their ability to do what’s asked. The worst thing you can do as an athlete is not respond to these request or miss the deadlines. Just like you would in the work place, acknowledge receipt of the request, then get the requested information as soon as possible. Coaches know if an athlete has problems handling simple tasks like getting transcripts, they are more likely to have problems taking care of their responsibilities once they are living on their own.
They Will Talk to Anyone for Character Evaluations
College coaches are going to talk to all sorts of people to get a sense for what kind of person the recruit is. Coaches want to know what kind of person you are and that doesn’t just mean on the field or in the gym. We’ve heard of coaches talking to school janitors or even random students in the hallway to find out what a recruit is really like. With the increasing pressure to have high character people in their programs, coaches have a lower tolerance for recruits who could be problems down the road.
Coaches Aren’t Looking for Perfect
This article isn’t intended to scare you into thing coaches are going to look at every little situation as a chance to stop recruiting you. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to show you are more qualified. Coaches understand they are dealing with 15 and 16 year old kids in the recruiting process and they don’t expect them to be able to do everything perfectly. What they are looking for is that an athlete is willing to handle their own responsibilities. Effort and a little bit of maturity can go a long way in impressing a college coach.
If you feel like you are stuck in the recruiting process or just not sure what to expect, feel free to write your questions in the comments below or contact us via email.