College coaches have a difficult job of selecting prospective student-athletes who will be the right fit for their programs.  The right fit doesn’t just mean their athletic ability. While that is important, they also have to fit the culture of the program which means their attitude, character, and the way they act off the field.  You have heard it before" "Character counts!" The college recruiting process proves how true that saying really is.

College coaches will evaluate four areas of a prospective student-athlete to determine whether or not they will be a good fit for their program; academics, athletics, attitude, and character.  A prospect's academics and athletic ability are pretty straight forward.

  • GPA
  • Official Test scores (ACT / SAT)
  • Course Load (What types of courses are you taking?)
  • Academic Motivation/Attitude  (Is academics a priority?)
  • Technical ability, skills, scores or times
  • Tactical / Knowledge of your sport (Are you a student of your sport?)
  • Athleticism or physical attributes (Big, Fast, Strong, etc.)

The biggest challenge for a college coach is gauging the attitude and character of a prospective student-athlete with limited opportunities to do so.  What you do off the field, court, pool, etc. matters to the recruitment process. If a college coach attends one of your competitions, they are not only watching you in between the lines but also what you do outside the lines.


Regardless of a player’s performance, skill, tactical, and physical display, there are other factors that heavily influence a coach’s decision to recruit a given athlete.  Coaches will look at their psychological make-up and their mental ability to read and assess situations. Here are some other personality traits that coaches look for:

  • Drive
  • Aggressiveness
  • Determination
  • Leadership
  • Respect
  • Self-Confidence
  • Mental Toughness
  • Coachability

As a former college coach, I always tried to watch a recruit before or after the game to see how they carry themselves. I paid attention to their body language and the way they treated the people around them including coaches, players, and their parents.  These things can really tell a coach what kind of person you are. Not only in the competition are college coaches evaluating you but the minute you step on campus for a visit they are watching you. While in a coaches presence there are things you should do to stand out and then there are things you definitely shouldn’t do while on your campus visit.

How to Stand Out Off the Field
  • Show confidence and speak clearly
  • Be professional at all times (How you act, dress, and communicate)
  • Communicate effectively with college coaches (email, text, social media)
  • Be respectful to the people around you (especially your parents)
  • Ask well thought out questions, shows you are interested and did your research.
  • Be prompt and accountable
  • Go out of your way to get recognized (especially at ID events)

College coaches will evaluate hundreds, even thousands of student-athletes depending on the sport for one recruiting class.  All it takes is one misstep in the process to be unrecruited.

Here are some potential red flags you want to avoid during your recruiting process:

Off the Field Red Flags
  • Disrespect in any fashion to the people around you
  • Over-involved parents
  • Poor Social Media behavior
  • Underperforming in the classroom
  • Being dishonest in any way
  • Violating any laws
Real Life Red Flag

“We had a recruit who we were interested in and they said they were being offered money from another program, and they were not. That was a big turnoff and we stopped recruiting that player."

DII College Soccer Coach

Tip:  Be honest all the time!  The coaching world is small, most coaches know each other and can pick up a phone and talk to another coach.


The Designing Your Pathway to College Sports workbook assists prospective student-athletes navigate through all of the steps of the recruiting process with surprising ease. The college recruiting road map is essential for high school student-athletes who want to continue their academic and athletic career at the next level. The step-by-step plan walks students and parents through everything they need to know and everything they need to do in order to find the best college experience, academically, athletically, and personally or socially.

Christopher J. Stack is a Sportlo contributor and the founder and CEO of Guiding Future Stars, a student-athlete development company that is committed to educate prospective student-athletes, parents, and coaches about what it takes to play at the next level, how the college recruiting process works, and how to be a successful student-athlete who excels in the classroom, on the field, and in the community.

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