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Many high school athletes have dreams of playing at the next level. Many potential recruits devote endless hours a week honing their physical strength and sport-specific skills to stand out.  A lot of young athletes believe coaches select players to their program simply based on athletic ability, potential, or skill; however, there are so many more factors that contribute to this complex decision. Many coaches want to know the person beyond the player that they are recruiting. They consider the individual’s character including their attitude and personality. Coaches are looking to evaluate how a prospective recruit will contribute to and fit with the team and school holistically, not just through their sport-specific skill set.

Discerning what kids are going to be the best fit for the program is a tough task. Often, these coaches make their determination based on a select number of encounters including athlete appearances at prospect camps, unofficial or official visits to the university, or at tournaments, practices, and competitions. These environments can breed an atmosphere of pressure for athletes who understand the urgent need to perform at a high level; however, there are some things that college-athlete-hopefuls can do to present themselves in the best possible light and ensure good standing with the coaches and program that have nothing to do with athletic skill or talent:  

Nuss is someone I have looked up to since I started playing beach volleyball and getting to watch her compete in a championship setting was surreal. In her post after the NCAA tournament had come to an end, Nuss concluded by saying:

1. Respect your parents

Oftentimes when you attend recruiting events, you will be joined by a parent. The way you treat your parents will be seen as a direct indication of the way you will treat other authority figures including coaches and administrators when you arrive at the school. Parents often sacrifice a lot of time and money to help us develop our skills and get recruited. Although showing gratitude by thanking parents and treating them well at recruiting events may not set you apart, failing to respect your parents or being blatantly rude is certainly a red flag.

2. Be a good teammate

In any sport (besides an individual sport of course), your teammate’s successes are just as important as your own. Coaches look for players that will be able to bolster the performance of their teammates in addition to their own performance as individuals. Being a supportive and encouraging partner can give you a leg up in the recruiting process where small factors can set you apart.

3. Work Hard

This one may be the most obvious, but effort and hard work are key indicators of potential growth. Presenting a good work ethic by hustling, trying your best, and being disciplined is key in order to show coaches you are ready for the next level. Regardless of our skill-based performance on any given day, we can always control our effort.

4. Respect the time and presence of staff

Coaches put a lot of time into recruiting in order to shape their program to the best it can be. They take time out of their own busy schedules in order to lead recruiting camps, travel to tournaments, or lead visits for recruits. Saying thank you or even just hello at a tournament shows your respect for their time and presence and interest in you as a potential recruit.

5. Focus on school

If you fail to meet academic requirements in college, this can jeopardize your ability to play in practices and competitions. Poor academic standing in high school can result in apprehension from coaches, especially those at top-tier universities with a difficult curriculum. On the other hand, good academic standing in high school indicates that academic performance will not become an area of distraction in college. Additionally, solid academic performance is a testament to the time management and discipline of any student athlete, both of which are skills necessary at the next level.

Overall, recruiting can be a tense time but as long as you present your best self both as a player and as a person, everything will work itself out.

Big changes start with small steps.

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