5 Ways College Coaches Evaluate Character In The Recruiting Process

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One of the greatest sports character quotes to ever be said came from the mouth of legendary NCAA basketball Coach John Wooden:

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Each year, character is an important trait that coaches are always evaluating in the recruiting process. Coaches at college level are putting more stock into a recruit’s character than ever before and you can bet that coaches will pry into your background to find out your character when you’re recruited.

Why are coaches evaluating an athlete’s character and how are they doing it?

Well, it’s a pretty simple explanation.  College coaches want a recruit that has integrity, discipline, and a solid work-ethic. What they don’t want athletes that are going to be a liability or distraction when they’re out of the coach’s sight lines. So, they’re diving in deeper than ever before to find out what kind of person you really are.

Old coaches, teammates, counselors, teachers, parents, you name it… They’re contacting all of these people to find out who you really are and to see if you have the intestinal fortitude to make it through college the right way with your head held high. Coaches need to confirm that you can handle transitioning into college and all of the rigors that come with being a student-athlete.

It’s a big investment when they offer you an opportunity to attend their university, and they want to be certain that they’re doing the right thing by putting their stock in you.

1They Evaluate How You Treat People

Coaches are always watching you. And, you can bet that they’re watching you to see how you treat everyone close to you. How you treat your parents, grandparents, girlfriend or boyfriend, siblings, coaches, teammates… all the way down to how you treat and interact with the water boy is being evaluated.

When a coach finds out that you treat the lowest person on the totem pole the same way as you treat the person at the top, it says a lot about your character.  Coaches want players that are going to be emotionally consistent and understand that they are a part of a team that extends much farther than the players that put on the pads.

Related: This Is The Best Way To Save For College With Zero Effort

When you’re in college, you interact with a wide variety of people.  You have professors, classmates, athletics staff, training staff, team doctors, academic advisors, residence hall monitors, campus police, dining hall staff… the list goes on and on.  Coaches want to make sure that they’re recruiting a player that will represent their program with integrity, professionalism, and courtesy when they’re out in the community.

So, make sure that you’re treating everyone that’s in your life the right way. If you’re not treating the people closest to you with love and respect, there may be a much bigger underlying issue.

2They Test You To See How Punctual You Are

There’s one thing that college coaches are always strapped for: time. There are not enough hours in the day for coaches to tackle everything between all of their coaching duties, alumni events, community events, recruiting, and anything else that comes up.  When you drag your feet, you are taking time away from them to have a productive day, and that doesn’t bode well for you.

When a coach send you an invite to a camp or asks for your SAT/ACT scores or transcripts, you need to know that they’re evaluating you to see how punctual you are in getting that information back to them.  One of the worst mistakes that you can make when this happens is not responding to the request or dragging your feet in retrieving that information for them.

Related: 7 Common Traits of Successful College Recruits

Follow this golden rule: Whenever you receive contact from a college coach, always make sure that your response to them is the latest contact you have had with them. So, whenever they call you, you return the call.  Whenever they email you, you email them back confirming or acknowledging you received their email. If they snail mail you, you snail mail right back.  Your punctuality and responsiveness send a message to the coach that you’re responsible and that you’re on top of your stuff.

And, if you’re ever in a situation when you have to meet with them in person, always remember this golden rule of being on time.

3They Reach Out to Everyone for Character Evaluations

Whoever you come in contact with in your life, you can bet that college coaches are going to contact those people to see what type of person you are.  They’re going to ask anyone and everyone that’s had a significant role in your life about your character, your punctuality, your work ethic, as well as anything else that they feel is important to them in the recruiting process.

Related: Six Character Flaws That College Coaches Despise

These coaches don’t just want to know about your ‘compete level’ or your work ethic in the gym and on the field.  They want to know who you really are.  They want to know if you’re the type of person that skips class, turns in their homework assignments late, has to be told 5 times to take out the trash, or talks back to their teachers and classmates.  We’ve been told by several college coaches that they talk to volunteer medical trainers and next door neighbors to find out what type of person a recruit is like.

4They Scour Your Social Media

If you think that what you do online holds any consequences for you, think again.  College recruits have lost scholarship opportunities because of what they have tweeted. A student-athlete has even lost their scholarship due to having a YouTube channel. As an athlete, you always have to be aware of what you’re doing and putting out there online.

College coaches are going to visit your social media pages to see what type of posting you’re doing online. Political posts, posts demeaning a certain type of group, photos with alcohol or intoxication, and other inappropriate posts will end your opportunities being recruited.  To put it bluntly, its over for you if you have anything inappropriate on your social media.

The golden rule to make sure that you are good with your social media: Only PG posts on your pages – Positivity and Gratitude.  If a post doesn’t fall within these lines, then don’t post it. Your online opinion isn’t worth losing a scholarship.

5They Ask For Everyone’s Opinion On Your Official Visit

If you have the chance to receive an official visit and interact with everyone involved with the program recruiting you, you better be on your best behavior. Everyone that you come in contact with be evaluating your character. Everything is in play – from the way you dress to your punctuality – all the way down to the way that you shake everyone’s hands when you meet them.

On the official visit stage, you need to make sure that you dress appropriately and make sure you’re ready to go.  Treat it like a job interview – show up early, treat everyone with respect, represent you and your family well, and then thank everyone involved for the opportunity at the end.

I’ve heard of a school passing up on a guy because while being shown around the school by the coaches, they uttered to their parents: “Man, there are no females at this school.” Right then and there, they didn’t know it, but they sealed their fate with that school. If you’re not ready to act mature and present yourself in the right manner, you’re not ready to handle the responsibilities that come with being a student-athlete.  And, coaches will sniff it out.


If you found this article to be useful, we suggest you check out our other articles on the recruiting process such as 9 vital steps on how to get recruited and noticed by college coaches and the 4 Mistakes College Recruits Make When Contacting Coaches.


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