Recruitment is essential to the success of any college sports team, and as coaches, you make a considerable investment in your time, energy, and talent to get it right. Sometimes, you end up finding the right person at the right time. For example, the Oakland Athletics found their pitcher, Nathan Patterson, when he attracted national media attention for throwing a fastball at a speed pitch booth in a park.
But when looking for the right athlete for the team, what factors should you focus on?
Although there are guidelines and best practices, there is no set path to assure your desired outcome. These factors can give you an idea of what to consider in your recruitment process.
Athletic Skill and Success
This is a no-brainer. You want to get the best athlete that will fit your team. Assess your current roster and determine the gaps you need to be filled in—both technical and non-technical.
For example, you’ve determined that your basketball team needs a point guard. Your recruit should have the necessary skills covered, from passing and faking to free-throw shooting. Don’t forget about their ability to communicate, since that is essential to ensuring teamwork in any game.
You want your student-athlete to balance sports and studies. Look at their grades and ask about their study habits. A student with a below-average grade is not worth pursuing because they might not be able to keep up with schoolwork while training for the team, or vice versa.
The degree program your recruit wants to pursue also plays a factor. If your campus doesn’t provide the degree they want, the recruit might go to another school.
You want to recruit to get along with your current roster and drive the team toward success. Social skills make sure that the athlete can be a team player, defuse negativity, and follow the rules efficiently. When scouting for your potential athlete, look at the sports program of their school or club and determine whether they prioritize social skills development.
Location from School and Training Area
Geography plays a role in the success of an athlete in two ways:
- Attractiveness of an Athletic Program
A student-athlete may want to join an athletic program in a warmer climate so they can play more games in better weather. Or, they might want to choose a campus with a generally cold environment so they can take a mental and physical break from the sport.
- Proximity to an Athlete’s Home
Chances are, your recruit might have to move across the state just to play under your team. If that’s the case, consider how often they want to go home and how much they want their family to watch their games.
If possible, start your recruitment process by looking at potential talents near the campus. Widen your search to other states when needed.
Recruitment is a Trial-and-Error Process
Finding top talents for your college team can be challenging. Although there are best practices used by a variety of sports program, they don’t guarantee the best results.
But remember that recruiting the right athletes is just the beginning. Once the recruit joins the team, that’s where you come in. As a coach, make sure they are on the right track with their performance to drive your team toward success.