10 Characteristics That Coaches Love In a Player

characteristics that coaches love in a player attitude work ethic

One of the biggest questions asked amongst players and parents in sports today is: How do I get my coach to like me? A large majority of athletes want to be liked by their coaches, but they fail to understand that their character (or lack thereof) is how their coach is evaluating them.  If you want to build on your character, you need to exhibit the following characteristics that coaches love in a player.

And, you need to understand that these 10 characteristics are just that: they are a part of your character.  Your character is who you are deep down inside, so if you try to fake these characteristics, you will look like you’re trying to be a coach pleaser.

So, you need to make these a daily habit and permanently apply them to the way that you live your life.  If you can practice these on a daily basis, you’ll see that not only will your coaches love you as player, but they will start to respect you more as a person.

And, when you earn a coach’s respect, it ends up paying you dividends in the long run.

Here are 10 of the most important characteristics that coaches love in a player, in no particular order.

10 Characteristics That Coaches Love In a Player


1. Manners

Your manners are a characteristic that are being evaluated by your coaches every time you come in contact with them.  The questions that they try to answer are:

  • How do you treat people that are low on the totem pole?
  • How do you treat your teammates, family, and even the waitress at the diner who you have never met?
  • How do you dress? Are you sharp or are you a slob?
  • Are you the first one through the door or do you hold the door open for others?
  • Do you shove food into your mouth like a slob or do you engage in conversation with those whom you eat with?
  • Are you a “Yes sir/Yes mam” type of person?
  • Do you interrupt people?
  • Are you polite and patient?
  • Do you say “please” and “thank you”?
  • What type of language do you use?
  • Do you bring others down or are you humble with your opinion?
  • Are you always on time?
  • Do you put yourself ahead of others?

All of these questions are examples of things that coaches are always evaluating, way before you even think about picking up your gear. Today, younger athletes just don’t think that having manners is important. In fact, they attribute having manners to being “weak” or “wimpy”. Those athletes just aren’t using their heads.

And, coaches don’t seem to think that manners are exhibited by “weak minded” people. It’s just the opposite – you can be polite and be an animal when you compete. There are plenty of athletes that do it.

For coaches, there is nothing more captivating than when they come across a player that understands the importance of manners.

2. Honesty

Have you ever heard the phrase: “You lie, you die”? Well, if you haven’t, then you need to adopt it and start practicing honesty. Honesty is one of the most important characteristics that coaches love in a player, if not the most important.

Coaches love players that are honest.  And, the reason why they love them is pretty simple: They know that what they’re getting from their player is at face value.  Meaning, they know that when they have an honest player, what they see is what they get.  They don’t have to dive deep down into the sports psychology game and find out where a player is lying to them-self.

When you’re honest with your coach, they can be honest with you. And, there’s nothing better to have in a player/coach relationship than honesty. That’s because the both of you are on the same page. You know that what they’re trying to tell you isn’t personal. And, they don’t have to sugar coat anything or tap dance around your feelings in order to help you fix your flaws or make corrections in your game.

A player that is honest with others is also honest with themselves. That’s why honesty is one of those characteristics that coaches love in a player. There are no better players to coach than those whom are honest with themselves. Those types of players don’t make excuses. They don’t tell lies to themselves in order to make themselves feel better. And, as a coach, you can surely that they don’t point the finger of blame at others when they fall short.  Those types of players point thumbs instead.

3. Respect

There’s no way to sugar coat around it: Respect is huge. And, despite what other “experts” say, you better give respect to your coaches right from the start. In the world of competitive sports, respect doesn’t start off as a two way street between players and coaches.

Right from the start, you need to be a player that respects everyone that they come in contact with. Respect your coaching staff, respect the trainers, respect your parents, respect your teammates, respect your teachers, and respect your opponents.

And, not matter how much you disagree with a coach, make sure that you always show them respect.  During times of adversity, the mentally weak players will argue with their coaches and disrespect them because they’re frustrated with the way that things are going.  If you can learn anything from this article, you need to understand that respect goes a long way.

Coaches admire players that have respect for everything and everyone around them. They will gravitate towards you because you’ll show that you’re the type of player that wants to learn, not the type of player that wants to blame.

You won’t understand the importance of respect until you become a coach yourself. It’s just one of those characteristics that coaches love in a player.

4. Character

What type of character do you have?  Character is the most important thing that you have in your life. Your character is what people remember you by and its the main characteristic that people use to identify you both as a player, and as a person.

To quote the late John Wooden, the greatest college basketball coach to ever grace the sidelines, has the best quote that you’ll ever hear when it comes to your character:

“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.”

If you want to be liked by your coaches and teammates, you need to make sure that your character is in tact.  Character boils down to being the leader of your life and living it humbly with integrity and honesty. So, do the right thing – ALWAYS – and always put in more than you take out.

If you want people to remember you for your character, you should think of your team as a bank account and ask yourself one question every day: Did you put in more than you took out today?

5. High Work Ethic

A relentless work ethic is the most important in our list of the top 10 characteristics that coaches love in a player.  And, it seems to be a characteristic that is disappearing amongst younger athletes.

In a world of coddling kids and protecting them from anything that sharpens them, parents are forgetting to teach their children about the importance of work ethic. There’s only three things that you can control in your life, and your work ethic is one of them.

Everyone believes that they work hard. And, for a large part of athletes, this can be true. However, for the large majority of athletes that are honest with themselves (Rule #2), you need to understand that no matter how hard you work, you can always work harder.

Push yourself to the point of exhaustion when you’re dead tired.  Put down the phone and practice a skill for 15 minutes. Instead of watching television, go work on your agility for 20 minutes.  You can always apply yourself more on a daily basis.  Little increments make a huge difference when you look at the big picture of your athletic development.

You don’t have to “save your energy” – Despite what some people think, life is not a gas tank.

Instead of trying to conserve your energy for “practice” or the “big game”, you should follow these rules:

It’s a simple formula to change your life. And, it will change the way that your coaches think about you.

6. Fighting Spirit

Coaches are motivating individuals. They are in a position of leadership because they love to motivate people from different backgrounds and push them to work together to achieve an extraordinary goal.  You can’t achieve that goal if you don’t have a fighting spirit that pushes you beyond your limits. It’s one of those characteristics that coaches love in a player because it simply can’t be taught. It has to come from within your soul.

When a coach has a player that has an unbelievable fighting spirit, they can’t help but admire that player and gravitate towards them. A fighting spirit is in any successful coach’s blood and its one of the purest things that they continue to hold onto.  When a coach sees a player that doesn’t quit and plays with a relentless purpose, they

One of the truest questions to ask yourself is:

“If you can’t get excited about how you play the game, then how is your coach supposed to get excited?”

Coaches love fighters and people who don’t quit.  If you want to separate yourself from your peers, you need to show your fighting spirit of why you play the game.  You don’t need to bounce around like a kangaroo, scream at the top of your lungs or be boisterous. All you need to do is show your teammates and coaches that you don’t quit – EVER.

7. Accountability

If you hold yourself accountable for the results of your decisions and actions, then your coach doesn’t have to.  It’s one less thing that they have to worry about and it allows them to focus their attention towards making you a better athlete.

Accountability is one of those characteristics that coaches love in a player for many reasons.

Firstly, it communicates to them that you’re not going to be a player that blames your teammates for your own shortcomings.  Secondly, it shows them that you understand that your success (or lack thereof) is solely dependent on the effort that you put forward every day.

When you have accountability, you’re telling your coaches that they don’t have to worry about you making the right choice. And, you’re also telling them that when you fail and make a mistake, you’re going to own that mistake and work hard to fix it.

Although coaches can be extremely demanding, you need to understand that they know they’re human as well.  They’ve made numerous mistakes as a player, a coach, and as a general person throughout their lives.  They know that you’re going to make mistakes too. What they want to see is that you own those mistakes and move forward.  When you do so, it shows that you have character.

8. Coachable

Being coachable is one of the hardest characteristics that a player can try to grasp.  Why?  Because, you can be the best teammate and hardest worker in the world, but at the same time you can be not coachable.

Being coachable is a two part process. In order to be coachable, you have to be able to:

  1. Listen and understand what your coach is trying to correct
  2. Practice and implement it into your game.

What many players fail to do is the implementation part, which causes them to fail in being coachable.  So, how do you become coachable?  Well, its a pretty simple fix. You practice what they are preaching. If you continue to make a mistake in one area of your game, then you need to practice so that you can correct that mistake.

Too many players today say “Yes coach, I understand” and then go out and continue to make the exact same mistake over and over. Coaches love players who are coachable, meaning that they only have to tell them once or twice before that player starts to work on fixing that mistake. It’s one of those characteristics that coaches love in a player because it stops them from pulling their hair out.

9. Humble

Where did all of the humble athletes go?

It’s a question that coaches are asking themselves every year.  In a world over social media and instant gratification, it appears to be that humble players are going by the wayside.  Which means, if you can exhibit being a humble athlete, you will separate yourself from your peers and be a player that stands out in a crowded crowd of self-centered athletes.

How do you practice being humble?  Well, you need to understand one thing before you start, which is that the world doesn’t revolve around you.  If you want to be a leader, you have to put other people wants and needs ahead of your own. And, although you might be proud of your accomplishments, you can’t show it.

Why is being humble one of those characteristics that coaches love in a player?  Well, its simple.  When you are a humble person, you communicate to the world that you’re emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence is a characteristic that a ton of athletes don’t have in today’s world. And, its mainly because they don’t have the patience to stick to the process. Too many athletes want gratification right away, which isn’t the case when it comes to being successful in sports.

Stay quiet. Stay humble. Stick to the process.

10. Positive Body Language

You can say a lot without saying anything at all.

It’s true, and coaches are always evaluating it. Your attitude and your body language are two things that you’re being evaluated on all the time.  When you slouch your shoulders, hang your head, walk with bad posture, or act frustrated, your coach and everyone around you can see it.

So, even if you think that you’re being humble and quiet about how you feel, you might not be. The only way that you can fix it is to be aware of how you’re standing and acting all of the time.  Your posture plays a huge role in telling people how you currently feel.  So, stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, and look proudly at the world in front of you.

These are what we feel to be the 10 characteristics that coaches love in a player from countless conversations and workshops with college and professional coaches. Write them down on a piece of paper and tape them to the inside of your locker so that you can become the leader that you and your coaches want you to be.