Like any competitive process, when drafting players, college coaches are looking far deeper than raw talent, speed, and strength. And high school coaches can play a big role when it comes to helping athletes attract recruiters. While pure capability may catch a recruiter’s eye, an athlete can set him or herself apart in a variety of different ways. This is important to know, because college coaches don’t just focus on the top recruits in their sports; they have a full roster to build, and are looking at players who can help round out their team. Here’s how they do that and what they look for.
Coaches need reliable performers—both physically and academically. Recruiters will look at high school GPAs, SAT/ACT scores, and character testimonies from peers and teachers. A good student has proven discipline, and he or she likely understands the important connection between athletics and scholarship.
Colleges are also drawn to intellectually exceptional performers because they are more likely to receive academic scholarships or other aid, and successfully fulfill their commitment to the standard four years it takes to complete a degree. This is simply the best possible return they can have on their investments. The university level will also be far more competitive physically, and players will have to rely more on their sports IQ to understand how the game is mastered and what it takes for their teams to succeed. Pure endowment at this level is simply not enough.
Becoming an undergraduate is a test of autonomy for students. On top of the normal tight schedules and academic demands of the scholar, college athletes undergo physically rigorous challenges. But how can a recruiter anticipate how a candidate will stand up to the mental and physical demands of university athletics? Character is the answer.
A top-performer with character is simply invaluable. When coaches are recruiting athletes, they gather as much information as they can about an individual’s dependability, passion, potential chemistry with other players, and attitude. Recruiting is an immense investment of time and money, and programs don’t want to commit to a player who gets results on the field or court, but who fails to align with the team’s goals or projects a bad attitude. The following qualities dictate everything from how a player performs at practice or on game day to his or her academic results:
- Dependability. A typical college student is likely to rethink his or her career path a few times in the course of a four-year plan. Earning a degree is mentally demanding—and athletes are under this pressure as much as anyone else is.
- Perseverance. In addition to these demands, athletes will be confronted with long, demanding days, wins and losses, and performance expectations. Simply put, they can’t afford to lose focus. Recruiters will look for indications that a candidate is going to persevere in light of any challenges, whether it be a two-a-day practice, waking up early to lift weights, academic demands—or all three at once.This takes immense mental and physical toughness and the ability to persevere through it all.
- Passion. Natural ability only goes so far; how badly does an athlete want to achieve? Initiative, passion, and focus can carry a player beyond physical and academic standards and push him or her to the highest possible level. A player with passion is an incredible asset who will positively affect everyone else on the roster. Coaches will look at how much an individual wants to pursue a sport and how excited he or she is to be doing so at their specific universities.
- Chemistry. Building a team takes far more deliberation than simply bidding on the highest batting average or shot percentage. Chemistry is essential to a program’s success. A positive attitude, humility, and an attitude of teamwork, coupled with physical prowess, will earn a player plenty of attention from recruiters.
Building a Portfolio
Recruiters will thoroughly research the athleticism and personal qualities of all their candidates, but athletes with an eye on college sports can also help themselves stand out through this process by building a digital portfolio of their accomplishments. As a high school coach, you can help your college-bound players look their best to recruiters. We are living in an age where everything is documented, whether on video, by images shared on the school’s Facebook page, or on an individual player’s Instagram account. Consider working with your players to develop a digital portfolio that’s comprised of footage of their best plays, footage that shows their ability to learn on the fly, and other images that document their prowess when it comes to their sport as well as their unique personalities. If you’re using Insight Replay’s Reveal Sideline Replay System, that’ll make that process even easier. To find out how Insight Replay can help your players and team enhance their performance and win more games, request a demo today.