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The One Trait Every Coach Looks for in Recruits


by Allison Goodman

“The strength of the group is the strength of the leaders.” –Vince Lombardi

There is one trait that every coach looks for in recruits. Leadership is a vital trait of a successful athletic team. Successful athletic teams need more than just leaders on the coaching staff, but also leaders on the team. The question becomes, what is good leadership? Research shows that there are five practices that make up good leadership. The five practices include modeling the way, inspiring a vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart.

Modeling the way is one of the vital pieces to being a good leader. If a leader cannot walk the talk, then their teammates are not as likely to trust and follow them. Good leaders must communicate what their values are and live by their values. Daily actions show how committed leaders are to their beliefs. Modeling the way wins the trust of others and allows the leader to lead freely.

Inspiring a vision motivates teammates and gives them a goal to work towards. People enjoy imagining a highly attractive future. Good leaders imagine extraordinary opportunities, paint a clear picture of where they see the team in the future, and share their vision with their teammates. Leaders have a desire to create something new.

Challenges are part of being a leader. Every leader faces challenges, whether it is improving their own performance, getting their teammates to work harder, or changing the culture on the team to make it more fun. When leaders face these challenges, they do not sit there and wait for the problem to work itself out. Leaders look for opportunities and make changes.

Enabling others to act is another vital piece to being a good leader. Leaders might have the vision and make the important decisions, but leaders cannot turn their dreams into realities on their own. Teamwork and collaboration are important in athletic teams. Good leaders enable all of their teammates to work together because they know that good work comes from a sense of ownership.

When times get difficult, good leaders encourage their teammates to carry on. A simple pat on the back can go a long way with teammates. For example, despite a loss recognizing teammates hard work can help encourage them to carry on. When trying to raise the sense of teamwork, leaders can encourage from the heart, and in turn will build a strong sense of unity.

Leadership is an extremely desirable trait to all college coaches. It is never too late to start working on your leadership skills. Therefore, next time you’re on the playing field, pool, court, or course, do not be afraid to pat your teammates on the back, motivate them to work harder, or challenge them with a goal!

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