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!
3. They Possess Great Mental Focus - These are true competitors who have cultivated the ability to stay in present moment awareness during crunch time. They have the unique ability to get into the zone and block out all distractions. These athletes are the ones who consistently play poised under pressure and seem to have ice in their veins in the biggest moments of competition.
4. They Expect Success for Themselves and Their Teammates - These positive athletes recognize the tremendous investment they and their teammates have made into the game and as a result expect success come game day. They have a consistent "can do" attitude and it is contagious on their team. Their presence on the field/court makes everyone around them better.
5. They are Students of the Game - These top recruits never stop being a student of the game. Each game and each practice they observe what their teammates and the opponents are doing, always looking for ways to improve their game. They master the little things in their game and constantly look for ways to gain the edge, like recognizing the umpire's strike zone or finding a defensive weakness and exploiting it. Coaches both love and respect these players!
6. They Focus on Effort, Not Outcome - These are consistent peak performers in part because they have learned to focus on the effort they give and not solely on the outcome of each play or game/match performance. They recognize that the game is a tough one to master, filled with adversity. By focusing on putting forth maximum effort in the moment and not being concerned with how others judge their outcomes they are able to frame mistakes as a learning opportunity and a challenge to get better!
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7. They Bounce Back Well from Adversity - This ability defines top recruits. Because they have a high level of self-confidence, expect success, do not focus on outcome and have a plan of action these peak performers do not get "stuck" when adversity and failure hits. They know no one is perfect, shake off the mistake and bounce back to present moment focus and peak performance quickly.
8. They Have A Highly Developed Level of Self-Confidence - Because of their mastery with the other eleven habits and traits on this list these athletes have developed a “rock solid” level of self-confidence; their emotional tanks are full and their on the field/court success is predictably stellar. Without this trait your athlete will never be highly recruited because the game is simply too hard to master without it.
9. They Honor the Game - Top recruits have one thing in common...they respect the game and all those who make the game possible. They honor their teammates, their coaches, their parents, the officials, their opponents and mostly themselves. They know there is no "I" in team and respect all those who came before them to make the game what it is today.
10. They Have a Plan of Action - These elite athletes all have clearly defined goals and purpose for playing the game. They have well rehearsed pre-game, in-game and post-game rituals to insure they will perform their best. They prepare themselves mentally, "seeing" their success in advance. They can summon intense concentration and focus on demand. After the game they reflect on their performance positively and look for things they can work on in practice to get better…always sticking to their plan of action.
11. They are Leaders – Highly recruited athletes are always leaders on and off the field/court. This does not mean they need to be vocal but rather are respected by both teammates and coaches for “walking the talk,” and always leading by example. College and pro scouts love them athletes for the “intangibles” they bring to the team. Leaders motivate their teammates and find a way to win regardless of the circumstances (think Michael Jordan).
12. Great Energy and Attitude – Without question all highly recruited athletes bring a unique energy, attitude and intensity to the field/court. They stand out for this reason from the very moment they walk on the field/court. These elite athletes set the bar of attitude sky high for their team and themselves, expecting success and exhibiting massive joy when playing the game (think Magic Johnson…always smiling and dominating!).
The time for your athlete to start cultivating these habits and traits is NOW, regardless of his/her age. In the end it is the “intangibles” that will make your athlete's game great and get them the scholarship or contract you both want, and these intangible factors all start between their ears. The good news is that they have 100% control over all of these 12 traits and habits. It's time to get to work!
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