What are college coaches looking for?
That is the million dollar question isn’t it? I wish I could provide a quick list of attributes that will have a 100 percent success rate in terms of getting you into your dream school, but unfortunately I can’t do that. Every golf program is different and every coaching staff is different. What may seem attractive to one group of coaches could be seen as things to avoid for another set of coaches.
There are, however, universal qualities that coaches look at to decide off the bat if a junior golfer is worth pursuing – athletic ability, scoring average, and grades. These are all things that are important and can put you into the yes or no pile very quickly, but there are other qualities that also play a factor.
Having worked in college athletics for seven years I dealt with coaches on an almost daily basis on a variety of tasks. Oftentimes, my coaches would come in to my office just to chat about prospective student-athletes and about the recruiting process. There were intangible qualities that I found came up again and again with these coaches and I want to share my thoughts on those.
Attitude – Playing golf in college is not just about practice and competition. There are other commitments expected of a collegiate student-athletes – training sessions, study hall, athletic training treatments, and community service to name a few. In addition, you are going to have days where you may not perform up to your expectations. Maintaining a good attitude and a positive outlook that is going to make all the difference for team comradery. Negative attitudes, especially in a team environment, can act like a plague. If you are negative and have a poor attitude, your teammates are not going to want to be around you and that will cause rifts.
Discipline – There is a degree of discipline needed in order to be a successful student-athlete. From my experience, the biggest lesson that student-athletes need to learn in order to be successful is how to manage their time. With so many commitments on a daily and weekly basis, it is easy to lose track of things. Learning to come up with a system that works for you and sticking to it is going to help you be successful in college, however, if a coach can see you do that in high school that is going to help you stick out among the crowd. Do you have to be your class’ valedictorian? No, but it’s great if you are! If you have good grades, though, it will show that you have a sense of self-dependency and you can take care of yourself. Once you are in college, you have to take care of yourself. While your coach and members of the athletic department staff will provide support, they are not going to babysit you to make sure your assignments are completed or that you showed up for workouts.
Leadership – Leadership comes in a variety of ways, especially in a team atmosphere. Your team is going to need those vocal leaders who are able to take command and hold other people accountable. If that is your personality then great you can fulfill that role. If, however, you are more on the quiet side there are still ways you can be a leader to your teammates – setting an example, forming relationships with your teammates, being reliable. How you conduct yourself while on the course will show the coach that is recruiting you how you would behave in a team setting.
Passion – Do you love the sport of golf? If your heart is not in it, it is going to be apparent to coaches when they are recruiting you. You can be the best technical player out on the course, but if you do not have passion for the sport you are going to get burnt out. I have seen countless student-athletes quit after a season or two because the love for the game simply was not there anymore.