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What Do Collegiate Coaches Look For: Questions Answered by Elite Level Coaches

Aside from the obvious trait as to whether or not you can actually play and excel at your respective sport in college, what other traits do collegiate coaches look for when they are recruiting?

For those of you athletes who deeply aspire to play competitively at the next level and are willing to do what it takes to get there, you will actually increase you odds of getting that opportunity if you have an idea of what coaches are looking for.

Do coaches look for ONLY talent?

How much does work ethic matter?

What kind of shape do you need to be in leading up to your freshman year from high school?

How much do your academics matter?

How much does social media matter?

How about Sport IQ?



All of the above??

In coming to contact with high school athletes on a daily basis and having had to go through the very trying process of walking on at the Division 1 level, I always jump at the opportunity to help an aspiring athlete in any way possible to help them get that chance, if they are willing to work.

Over time, I have gotten a solid feel for who really understands what it takes, and who THINKS they know what it takes.

To help provide even more perspective on what it takes, and what coaches are looking for, I created a survey and asked my close friends, former coaches, and contacts who are elite collegiate coaches and former recruiters what they look for in athletes when they recruit.

From top Division 1 football programs like Penn State, to top Top division 1 volley ball programs, to University of Miami and FIU former recruiting coordinators, the feedback that they provided is invaluable, especially to those of you looking for that opportunity.

Over the next several weeks I will be sharing what these coaches answered in the survey, and how you may be able to get a jumpstart, and maybe a reality check.

Let’s start with Tennessee Wesleyan.

Coach: Ashley Harris

Years Coached at Tennessee Wesleyan: 4

Question 1:  Select any of these traits that you look for the most when recruiting athletes for your program?

  • Overall Athleticism
  • Speed
  • Strength
  • Being Coachable
  • Natural Talent
  • Work Ethic
  • Strong Academics

Question 2: What would be the top 3 of the ones you picked. Why?

Being coachable- I will have different ways of doing things so I will need the player to be open to learning new ways and adapting.

Strong academic- you must be focused on your education because at the end of the day that is what’s going to pay the bills.

Overall athleticism- gives more opportunities to the player, allows them to be versatile

Question 3: When do you start the recruiting process?

“Spring going into their senior year (of high school)”

Question 4: How long does the recruiting process last?

“Until they move onto campus?”

Question 5: What is typically the biggest adjustment that incoming freshman struggle to make on coming in to your program, that you have seen?

That it’s going to be easy. They truly don’t know what adversity is and therefore don’t know how to deal with it.

Question 6: What are 2 important things that high school upper classmen should focus on if they want to increase their chances of getting recruited to your program? *

Communication and exposure.

Question 7: What advice would you give an athlete who is trying to walk on to your program? *

Be active. Make sure we know what you are looking for, clear on our what our expectations are for you and communicate.

Question 8: Do you follow your recruits on Social Media?


Question 9: On a scale of 1-10, how much does social media affect the decision-making process to recruit and offer a scholarship into your program?


Question 10: What should a high school athlete steer AWAY from that will for sure hurt their chances of getting recruited into your program? *

Anything that will question their character.

Question 11: What is typically the best way for an athlete interested in your program to get your attention and draw interest if you were not recruiting them? (e.g. phone call, email me with their high light, visit in person etc) *

First send out an email with highlight film, after a week or so of doing that send a follow-up email.

Why? *

The more the coach sees your name popping up, the more likely they are to respond and dig further.

Question 12: What kind of training do you recommend graduating athletes partake in before coming in to your program? *

We send them a summer work out plan to follow so we expect for them to be doing that along with volleyball skill work in the gym.

Question 13: How important are power clean, bench press, squat maxes, etc to you?

Not that important. We can improve when they arrive.

Question 14: How important are academics when recruiting an athlete?


Use the insight to your advantage, Be prepared. More to come.

In the meantime, if you are an athlete looking for a little more direction and prepping yourself to perform at a higher level, here are a few ways we can help:

1.)    Let us help you transform into an all-around better athlete.

Our Athlete Development Program has literally helped thousands of athletes from the middle school, to the elite collegiate level excel on and off the field/court.

Every single athlete that comes through the program gets 100 Percent custom programming based on individual needs, goals, and their assessment. We take pride in the culture of hardworking athletes we have and make sure we develop you all around. We know what you need, and what coaches specifically want developed at the next level.

This program is a great fit for you if you are in the Marietta/Kennesaw/Paulding/Acworth area, in middle or high school and want to play at a higher level, you are seeking better coaching than you currently get, you want precision training and the best support system possible from experienced coaches. Fill out our athlete form here, and your coach will reach out to you.

2.)    Join our Virtual Athlete Development Program for athletes.

Not in the area? No problem.

Our Virtual Fitness Development Program is an extension of our training systems and coaching support systems.

You will get virtually assessed through our mobile and desktop app, and a custom training program is created for you by one of our highly experienced coaches, and it doesn’t stop there.

Your performance and development does not just happen in the weight room or field. How you eat, sleep, deal with stress are all considered. We create highly individualized accountability systems to keep you on track and maximize your results, all done from the palm of your hand.

This is a great solution if you are out of the immediate area of our training facility, want custom programming that you can do on your own time, you want guidance from a truly experienced coach, in high school but need something more than a lazily put together program from a volunteer coach, and need a support system. Find out more about Virtual Fitness Development here.

3.)    Join a first of its kind course on How to Get Yourself Recruited.

Over the past year, I have developed the How to Get Recruited Virtual course for ONLY those serious athletes who are willing to put in the work and create their own opportunity to get to the next level.

You will have lifetime access to 4 different modules that provide a blueprint to increase your chances of getting the opportunity that you want, laying out step-by-step instructions on how to take action.

With continually updated material and detailed insight from coaches at the highest levels, as well as from my own personal experience as a walk on athlete who earned a full division 1 scholarship, you will have the tools and resources you need to hone your communication skills,  and increase your stock. If you are one of those athletes, you can get more info here.