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5 Things a College Coaches Looks for When Recruiting

A college coach has particular aspects that they look for when recruiting an athlete for their team. It is important for the athlete to know what the top five things that a coach most commonly looks for at first. Travis Turner, the head men’s volleyball coach at Orange Coast College, says the five things he looks for first are: ability, work ethic, character, physicality, and coach ability.


Ability. When it comes to multiple sources the ability of the athlete ranks highest. The ability of the athlete is essential; if it were not for the initial ability of the athlete then the recruiting process would be a moot point. The intended purpose of recruiting the athlete is to help the program win games and hopefully the athlete will benefit from the program. According to Travis Turner, “Coaches look for ability first because they need to make sure the athlete can help improve the program and because a coach always wants the best players to help win them a title.” A coach’s job is based on how well their program is doing and if a coach does not select athletes with the best ability then their program and job could suffer.

Character. An athlete’s character on and off the playing surface can “make it or break it” for the athlete while being recruited. It is the coach’s job to make sure that the athlete, if they choose the program, reflects the program in a positive manner at all times. If an athlete gets in trouble outside of the specific sports program it still comes back to hurt the coach. Turner says “I have to be very careful in finding out the character of the guys I want to bring in… it is very hard accept the fact that I am putting the jeopardy of my job in the hands of 18 to 20 year olds.” Coaches will try to find out as much as possible about an athlete by talking to anyone they can get information from, such as old coaches and teachers.

Work Ethic. After evaluating an athlete’s character comes their work ethic. A coach will also talk to previous coaches and teachers about the athlete’s work ethic to find out how strong it is. Sometimes a player that has marginal ability can be a top recruit because they have a huge work ethic, and that shows coaches that the athlete has tremendous potential to improve their ability. “When I see a player out working everyone else in the gym it makes me extremely happy. I will be more willing to give that player playing time over the more athletic kid that is extremely lazy” say Turner. Turner discussed that when he played, he was very small for his position and his coach had no other choice than to start him because his work ethic left everyone in the dust.

Physicality. The physicality of an athlete is something that does not take a coach long to judge but it is very important to the recruitment process. Coaches look at the build of an athlete to see if it fits what their program needs. Football players are built differently than baseball players, and then basketball and other sports. All athlete’s have their different builds depending on what muscles are utilized the most. “Volleyball players are built for specific positions, and if a young athlete has the initial then I can work with that,” say Turner.

Coachable. Rounding out the top five is the athlete’s coach-ability. An athlete can only improve if they work hard and are willing to learn and be coached. Being coachable is not just listening to the coach, but trying to implement things the coach wants the athlete to work on and improve. Turner says “all players have some bad habits and it is the coaches job to break those habits, but us coaches also need help from the athlete to not just listen to what we have to say but to try it.” Talking with the athlete’s current coach is extremely helpful because the recruiting coach has the ability to discuss whether or not the current coach feels the athlete is coach-able.

  • written by jpatton2 on February 11th, 2013
  • posted in Edit

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