When choosing the right players, know how to
separate the studs from the duds
By Travis Armideo
Whether you’re a professional general manager drafting the next generation of pros, a captain of a rec team who’s looking to fill a few roster spots, or a youth coach selecting players from an open tryout, you must take care when choosing the right players. Obviously.
But that’s typically easier said than done. Each group of athletes contains elite players—the ones with talent who happen to fizzle out, and the benchwarmers who blossom into role players. But how do you find those athletes and do it on a consistent basis?
There’s definitely no magic formula; even the best talent evaluators get it wrong year after year. Of course, talent is the easiest thing to identify, as talented players usually stand out. It’s the other factors that are harder to see with the naked eye—the intangibles like upside, maturity, awareness, attitude, work ethic, etc.
Those traits are harder to spot than raw talent, but they are vital to selecting the right athletes. Let’s take a look at some of those intangibles and see if there are ways to more easily identify them:
It’s easy for athletes to take personal responsibility when things are going well. But what about when things are not going so well?
Do your athletes point fingers and make excuses, or do they take it upon themselves to work harder and execute better? No matter what a player’s skill level might be, if they are accountable for their poor play and their team’s failures, they are going to work hard and continue to improve. And that effort usually means they are the leaders in the locker room.
While this is not an easy trait to assess when choosing the right players, look to see how athletes treat their teammates after a goal against or a bad play: Do they chastise others for mistakes and have poor body language, or do they support their teammates and bounce right back?
Similar to accountability, maintaining a good attitude during both good times and bad is a sign of an athlete with a good head on their shoulders.
Do your athletes hang their heads when something goes wrong, or do they stay upbeat and look to make a better play the next time out?
A winning attitude may just turn into wins on the ice.
Although this seems like a no brainer, work ethic is often undervalued. Even the most talented athletes need to keep working hard to stay on top.
Without a good work ethic, good athletes won’t stay good for very long. Do your athletes put in extra video study or gym time? Are they always the first to leave practice, or the last?
It’s not just about the “fun” practice either. It’s easy to stay late and work on breakaways or breakout plays, but superior athletes put in time for extra sprints or extra work on skills that aren’t so fun to practice.
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Pride and Humility
Being proud may mean many things, but having a sense of pride in your accomplishments means you are actually committed and invested in success. And being humble on top of that means you recognize how much work went into achieving those successes.
Then there are the star athletes that just seem to go through the motions. They know they’re able to rest on their talent and don’t push themselves harder than they need to. Some don’t seem to care so much about wins and losses or championships, expecting to be handed all of the accolades just for showing up. Those players don’t last; they peak too early and leave a lot on the table.
When a player is proud of what they and their team accomplish—when he or she gets upset about a bad loss, or celebrates the role player growing into an unexpected star, or breaks down after finally winning a championship—you know they possess a good work ethic and strive for greatness.
And when a player is humble and grateful to be in the position they’re in as well as possess the talents they have, that’s when you know you have a great one on your hands.
When it comes to choosing the right players for your team, there’s more than just talent. Make sure you scout those important intangibles as well.
Travis Armideo, an all-around athlete, is Marketing Manager at Gladiator Custom Mouthguards
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