What Recruiters Are Looking For in Athletes

What Mental Game Skills do College Recruiters Look For?

Recruiters and coaches look for a number of mental game traits when they’re evaluating athletes, says David Kmiecik, senior recruiting manager for Next College Student Athlete (NCSA).

First of all, they look for athletes’ ability to recover from failure. “You’re going to fail, miss shots and lose, how do you recover from that?” he said during an interview with our Ultimate Sports Parent podcast.

They also seek athletes who are good team mates, those who will be supportive of their team. And they want athletes who are coachable. That means the athletes listen well, are willing to improve and understand where they fit in with the team.

“At the college level, a lot of students may be at your athlete’s level or better. Student athletes are used to being the best,” said Kniecik. “They need to figure out how they can find their niche on a team.”

College coaches and recruiters look at how athletes interact with other players, coaches and officials. This is especially important if the young athlete is used to being the best on the team.

 Not only do recruiters and college coaches evaluate the young athletes. They watch the parents.

“Parents’ behavior is a big factor these days,” he said. Students, not parents, should be leading and taking the initiative to contact recruiters and coaches. And if parents cause trouble in the stands, that works against the athletes. Coaches don’t want to deal with parents who will be headaches.

“One person stopped recruiting an athlete because the parents and kid were yelling at each other after the game about the game,” he warned. “Coaches have their antennas up.”

Recruiters and colleges use a  number of tools to evaluate athletes. They look at profiles posted on websites like NCSA. They go to games, camps and tournaments, he said. They talk to coaches.

“The whole process is different than what  people think it is; athletes often think that they’ll be discovered. The athletes have to put themselves out there,” said Kniecik.

Young athletes need to post profiles and videos on sports websites and email coaches. The NCSA website helps young athletes with this process by providing contacts and other services.

To evaluate a young athlete’s mental game, coaches and recruiters will often look at athletes’ body language.

“If you’re taken out of the game do you sulk? Do you listen to coaches in the huddles? All the intangibles are important,” he says.

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