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What Coaches Value Most In Athletes

This is such an important question, not only for athletes to understand, but for all parents and coaches too.

What do coaches really value the most when it comes to working with athletes?

Great question, huh?

Of course coaches value a combination of physical qualities, skills, and other intangibles in athletes BUT…

While I cannot speak for all coaches, there are a few key things that I value the most and I’ll tell you what they are.

These qualities make coaching truly joyful and allow me to do what I want to accomplish as a coach, which is to make a difference for the individual athletes.

WORK ETHIC

I highly value work ethic and effort, which is why it’s listed first.

Coaches truly appreciate athletes who consistently put in the effort.

It’s pretty simple, work hard in practice and give your best in games.

A strong work ethic contributes to your own improvement and the team’s overall success.

It saddens me when I see athletes who give “half-effort” in drills and practices.

I wonder why they do that? Why do they not apply effort when they are better than that?

If you practice that way, you will play that way.

You will never get better by half assing it.

You will never get better by half assing it. 

If you remember ONE THING from reading this, remember that.

Sorry to be blunt, but go “all out” or don’t go at all.

You’re either in or you’re out.

Work hard and know that great things will always happen.

Want to do something great?

Put in the effort.

Effort is everything.

COACHABILITY

The ability to receive and implement feedback is crucial.

Coaches value athletes who are open to instruction, willing to learn, and can adapt their play based on coaching guidance.

Where do you stand with being a coachable athlete? Are you coachable?

TEAM PLAYER MENTALITY

Athletes who prioritize the team’s success over personal achievements are highly valued.

Being supportive, collaborative, and demonstrating good sportsmanship are essential aspects of a team player mentality. A player who can help drive positive team culture is a major asset.

Coaches want selfless players, not selfish players.

COMMITMENT & DEDICATION

Coaches tend to favor athletes who are committed to their sport, attend practices regularly, and are dedicated to their own development.

Long-term commitment to improvement contributes to team cohesion and success. The ONLY way to get better as an athlete is to commit yourself to the sport.

LEADERSHIP

Sports is about leadership development. Athletes who exhibit leadership, whether vocal or by example, are always highly valued.

Leadership involves motivating teammates, setting a positive tone, and helping create a cohesive team culture.

Players can lead from all levels and lead from wherever they are on the team.

While team captains are leadership roles, anyone can lead.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Plain and simple, players need to communicate.

In team sports, improving communication skills is part of the process. 

And effective communication on – and off – the field is essential and a highly desirable attribute.

Coaches value athletes who can communicate well with their teammates, follow instructions, and contribute to a building that positive team environment I keep talking about.

Players need to communicate at a high level with each other and with their coaches to be successful. 

INTELLIGENCE & GAME KNOWLEDGE

Coaches appreciate athletes who understand the nuances of the game, make intelligent decisions on the field, and have a good tactical awareness.

Athletes who can adjust and adapt to game dynamics is a big deal.

Coaches also rely on player perspective from those who understand the team goals and strategies.

POSITIVE ATTITUDE

This should go without saying but a positive attitude is a must.

Negative players can become a toxic and disruptive for teams.

So maintaining a positive attitude, even in challenging situations, is crucial.

Coaches value athletes who approach both victories and setbacks with resilience, optimism, and a determination to always get better.

HUMILITY

Humility or humbleness is also extremely desirable for athletes which makes it easy to work with them.

Confidence is one thing, cockiness is another.

“Confidence is quiet, insecurities are loud.” 

Personally, I can’t stand it when athletes brag about themselves.

Be humble.

On the other hand, humble, confident, growth-minded athletes are a joy to work with.


While specific values may vary among coaches and sports, these qualities generally align with what many coaches look for in their athletes. 

Demonstrating a combination of physical skills, mental attributes, and positive character traits can significantly enhance an athlete’s value to a team.

In simple terms, work ethic and high-character mean a lot on the list of ideal traits for a successful player in my eyes.

Look yourself in the mirror and ask where do you stand with these qualities?

Coach Scott

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