Arizona Sidelines sent out an e mail to roughly 75 college volleyball coaches, from community colleges all the way to the top D1 schools in the country asking them this question:
“What are the 5 characteristics you are looking for in your recruits today?”
Here's what we got!
What you see is a Wordle, a fun way to emphasize the words most often used in a speech or writings or normal conversation. For our purposes, we plugged in the answers from the Coaches and on occasion, in order to make the Wordle more emphatic, changed some of their wording to fit the wording of their peers.
For example, talent, athleticism, athlete and athletic ability were all labeled Athletic Talent in the Wordle to make the case of its importance. In fact, Athletic Talent was the number one characteristic of the coaches, coming up 10 times. Competitiveness came up in 8 responses, Good Teammate, Academics and Work Ethic in 6, Character, Technical Training and Coachable in 5 each.
Men’s Olympic Coach Marv Dunphy, now the Men’s coach at Pepperdine put his five
down this way:
Drive- I can fix just about everything else but if an athlete is not driven, good luck!
Toughness- There is a difference between competitiveness and toughness, I like tough kids.
Can they be on the court when we compete for a National Championship?
The ability to read the game.
Character- I can have one knucklehead in the program, but not two!
Kevin Hambly, the head coach at the
of Illinois and former USA Assistant
Women’s National team coach listed his five:
Have the athletic ability to compete at this level
Do I want to coach them?
Gonzaga Head Coach Dave Gantt sent back this:
Growth Quotient- How much room between the current level of play and the projected level of play?
So what can we, as Junior coaches, take from this?
Athletic talent is sometimes there, sometimes not. We can’t coach a kid to be 6-2 or have the eye hand coordination of a magician at the ripe age of 13. That usually comes with the package. Technical training is an absolute for a coach as is the best and most efficient way to train it.
But competitiveness; Do we foster a practice that helps bring that out of players? Do we reward our athletes for their work ethic and being a good teammate or do we turn the other way because those things don’t necessarily lead directly to wins…or do they?
Don’t we owe it to our athletes to focus on good character, being coachable, a solid work ethic and climb on board to praise excellence in academics? Great players that want to play in college will because they are great players, but can “good” players get the opportunities because of their strengths in these other areas?
We owe it to ourselves as coaches and to our athletes to make these things important. The payoff down the road, whether they make a college roster or not, is substantial.