Top 12 Habits & Traits of Highly Recruited Athletes

Across America on any given weekend, in any given sport, tens of thousands of teen athletes are performing at showcase tournaments, camps or other special events in front of dozens of college and/or professional scouts and coaches designed to give them the opportunity to “be seen.” Every player (and their parents) hopes for a stellar game or games to standout in some way, shape or form from all the rest of the players. And while playing well is the ultimate goal during a showcase type event how to prepare for that day is the topic of this article.

If your athlete aspires to play ball in college (or professionally) and receive a partial or full athletic scholarship it is never too early to start having her/him focus on developing the kinds of habits and traits that top athletic recruits possess that both catch the eye of the scouts as well as allow them to play at a consistent peak level on game/match day.

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Here are the Top 12 Habits and Traits of Highly Recruited Athletes:

1. They Have a Great Work Ethic - These peak performers have a crazy work ethic, and are self-driven to get better each day. No one ever out-prepares them. They are constantly pushing themselves in training and practice to be their best. They are the ones flying all over the field/court, and when they make a mistake in practice they immediately ask for another rep. Every coach would love to have an entire roster of these kids!

2. They Love the Game - Their work ethic is propelled due to their love of the game. Playing the game brings these elite athletes joy; they love the way they feel on the field/court and even smile after a mistake. It's all good to them whenever they cross the white line and their love for the game is infectious!


The 12 Traits of a Champion Athlete & Team

CIF high school softball champions
Torrey Pines Falcons, 2012 C.I.F. Champions
Whenever I coach or watch nearly any sporting event I am reminded of just how slim the difference between winning and losing really is in athletics.

In most every game played between two fairly evenly matched teams or players success or failure will come down to just a hand full of plays, right? The team or athlete that makes the plays, executes the best wins don't they? If you follow any larger tournament bracket you will find that the deeper the bracket goes the closer and lower scoring the games all get. Why is that?

Teams and athletes that win consistently do certain things that teams and athletes who don't win consistently do not. This is true in every sport for it is always the little things that capture or cost victory.

Let's look closer at what defines a champion with specific traits that can be learned then duplicated by your athlete and their team.

Here are the 12 traits of a championship level athlete or team:

1. Attitude - Championship caliber teams have a swagger about them, an expectancy that they will play well. These type teams literally exude an energy of success. They have a "can do" attitude from the moment they get up in the morning!

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2. Confidence - Along with the champion's swagger comes extreme confidence; almost cocky but never arrogant. Regardless of the score these teams never stop competing as they are supremely confident they will prevail when the game is over. They trust themselves to make plays, and never hesitate for fear of making a mistake.


Sports Parents: Beware the "60 Minute Rule"

I give weekly mental skills team training to a travel softball organization with eight teams from
12u to 18u and each week I'm always curious to see the response I will get from each team on the various topics I cover. This week my overall topic was on Having a Plan. In other words preparing for success. I talked about having a "pre-game" plan, an "in-game" plan and a "post-game" plan.

Far and away the subject I received the most reaction from the over 100 girls I train is what I term "The 60 Minute Rule."  Now, in advance, I warn you to dismiss or ignore this rule at your and your athlete's own risk. Breaking this rule can drive a wedge between you and your athlete as well as negatively affect their game performance.

So, without further delay...let me disclose to you The 60 Minute Rule.

The 60 Minute Rule requires that as parents you refrain from speaking to you athlete about his/her game or games for at least 60 minutes after the game(s). As a softball parent myself I know how much you can't wait to dissect, evaluate, analyze, critique or judge your athlete's performance and that of her/his team. Some of you reading this are nothing but positive with your athlete and that is great. However more of you are likely coaches, ex-coaches, ex-athletes who may mean well...but still come off as negative to your athlete. In either case I suggest you follow The 60 Minute Rule.


Six Tips to Insure Sports Success

As a sports parent I know the challenges I face in wanting on the field success for my daughter. As adults we try to see the big picture and do all we can to help our kids avoid mistakes by giving them any edge we can to insure their success on the field or court.

We coach them from behind the backstop, sidelines or stands because we figure one little verbal tip from us will surely make the difference between success and failure.

If our daughter or son is a pitcher we bark mechanics reminders to them between pitches (maybe every pitch) hoping they'll be the strike and location machine they are in practice.

A friend of mine said to me this week that it's truly amazing how involved parents are today with their kids' sports, given that our parents hardly ever showed up to watch us play (to my mom...you are the glorious exception!). Heck, I rode my bike to little league practice and games. As a freshman high school I rode my bike to 6am basketball practice every day in the dark!


Coach vs. Parent: 10 Ways to Make it Work

Whether you are a parent or a coach reading this the volatile and sometimes hostel relationship between parent and coach has a dramatic impact on both players and team, usually to the detriment of both.

Having coached over 1,000 fastpitch softball game I have pretty much seen and heard it all, as a coach, parent and fan. As we all know...it gets ugly sometimes! The real question is why does it get ugly and how can parents and coaches get along better?

In competitive or travel sports parents always have a choice as to which team they place their daughter or son on; in high school or rec you're kind of stuck with whomever is coaching. In either scenario there are definite ways to make the relationship work...here they are:

1. Better Communication - Whether parent or coach the best way to resolve any issue or concern is with one-on-one communication. Take the initiative to approach the other party calmly with suggestions. Don't assume the coach or parent knows what you are thinking and that your point is "obvious" to him/her. Go to the source and work it out. As a coach I always appreciate a parent who takes the time to seek me out to address an issue. I want what is best for my team and each player, and if any parent can help towards that end I'm open to it.

2. Lower Expectations - In my experience many sports parents have astronomical expectations for both their athlete's and team's performance. As a coach I can tell you that most teams are a work in progress; particularly if they are a new team or a team jumping to the next age group. I recognize frustration occurs when players or teams don't perform well, but if your athlete is under 16, believe me, he or she has yet to master a very difficult game. Give it time.

3. More Patience - Which leads me to more patience! We expect a lot from our kids today and sometimes they have a difficult time handling everything we throw at them. Allow them some time to get better. No coach is a miracle worker. A good coach sees the big picture for his/her athletes and the team. Do wins and losses really matter at 10, 12 or 14? Look for the baby steps of progress.