What 5 Things College Coaches Are Looking for Most?

Courtesy of 4-time Olympian Roland Schoeman and Athletes USA, a SwimSwam partner.  

A lot of swimmers assume that coaches are only focused on the talent of an individual when they are being recruited. You’ll be happy to know that this is not true.

While it is possible to get caught up in ability and technique, college coaches are looking for more than just fast times. Talent comes in absolute abundance when it comes to recruits, there’s no doubt about that, but to say that it is all that matters is incorrect. Talent is merely an attribute in a wide array of characteristics coaches look for when recruiting an individual. From speaking to several college coaches I’ve compiled a list of the 5 things college coaches are looking for in recruits.

*In no specific order

1) Be a good teammate

Being a good teammate is one of the most critical components college coaches are looking for. When building a team culture and when building the buy in college coaches need to know that the person they are recruiting will be a good teammate and that they will ultimately bring value to the team they are joining. Your value as a good teammate is just as important as the number of points you are capable of scoring at conference or the NCAA’s

According to some top coaches these are the qualities of being a good teammate they want to see.

– Coaches want to see you being involved and assisting in all facets of day-to-day training and competing. This involves assisting with recruits during their visits, helping with equipment (putting it away, taking lane lines in and out, etc) Coaches like to see swimmer’s encouraging their teammates at meets and at practices.

Being on time, respectful, and speaking highly of the institution on social media and to others is also critical for most college coaches.

2) Be coachable

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” – Tim Notke

You could be the most talented age group swimmer in the world but coaches want to see that you are coachable. They want to see that you are able to buy into their program and the values they instill in the program. Being coachable doesn’t just mean listening and applying, it means to taking ownership. Coaches want to see you taking the initiative in your day-to-day program.

–       Coaches agree being consistent with hard work is critical. Do the little things well and use training as a learning and growth opportunity. Focus on your technique, pay attention to your recovery (Sleep, eating, foam rolling etc)

The best in the world are methodical in their approach to training and racing. College coaches want to see the same instincts within you.

3) Good Academics

3.0 GPA is the ideal number most college coaches are looking for you to maintain throughout the year. Someone who is borderline on the roster is likely to get the nod if their grades are higher. For most current student athletes, any time they start dropping below 3.0 on progress reports it is recommend they attend more study hall hours and see their tutors. Colleges are generally very good about making exceptions for missed practices for study groups and academics. There is an understanding that most high-level students work ethic outside of the pool transfers to in the pool

4) Swimming times and potential

Swimming times are one the most important component for coaches. A general prerequisite for scholarship money is – will your times score at conference? If the answer is yes, you are more likely to get some scholarship money. Coaches also want to see a swimmer that is versatile. Will you be able to score points in a variety of events and will you be able to contribute points on relays? Coaches want you to be versatile not just excel in one specific event.

Obviously size, strength, and grit are factors too. How good is your technique and your dolphin kicking? While these aren’t specifically prerequisites they are important components that will help your pursuit of swimming in college. If you aren’t the tallest and strongest, coaches want to see that you have the requisite ability and will be able to make the necessary changes to your strength, technique and dolphin kicking when you arrive your freshman year

5) Character

College coaches are looking for athletes that will positively represent their team and the university every day of the week. They aren’t looking to be babysitters and they aren’t looking for excuses for bad behavior. It’s for this reason that character plays such an important role when a coach is considering you for their program.

The simple truth is your character is always on display. Coaches have been known to monitor social media of their recruits to see the way in which they act. They’ll definitely talk to your coach. If you’re unable to pass the character test, don’t expect a scholarship

It is not guaranteed that these will be the only things a coach will look at. Coaches from different universities, different conferences and divisions may approach recruiting slightly differently. This list is just a guideline of what a college coach may consider when recruiting you. Doing these things or working on these attributes should only enhance your opportunities of being recruited.

At Athletes USA you can trust us to work with you and put you in touch with coaches throughout the US. We know exactly what college coaches are looking for, since 2008 we have placed more athletes into American colleges than any other agency globally. This has allowed us to save our clients over $100,000,000 in tuition fees. Allow us to help you.

Go to Athletes USA here

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Courtesy of 4-time Olympian Roland Schoeman and Athletes USA, a SwimSwam partner.  

Roland Schoeman

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Bon Jovi
5 years ago

the hard work quote under “be coachable” was originally said by Kevin Durant. It’s my favorite quote

Reply to  Bon Jovi
5 years ago

Definitely not a Durant Original. Notke is the person to use it first and been used by many others since then

5 years ago

Have a good relationship with your club/highschool coach!! College coaches are almost gaurenteed to call them and ask about you. If you can’t build a working relationship with a coach over the course of all your previous swimming years, what are the chances you can quickly build one with a college coach in just 4?