Top 5 Traits College Scouts Look For in Athletes

Keith Huisman
There are many traits that set high school athletes apart to play at the collegiate level. Here are the top five we help our athletes develop.

Elite athletes meet a threshold based on the sum of several distinct characteristics. All must be present, but each individual may have a different combination that adds up to an elite athletic level. At CCA, we teach our athletes that growth and development results from taking responsibility for your own actions. After celebrating two seniors who committed to play for colleges on National Signing Day, I was inspired to share the top five traits that help students get noticed by college scouts.
  1. Physical Gifting/Athleticism
    This is a God-given, genetic gift. An individual possesses an athleticism that enables them to do things others cannot. Much like certain performers have the ability to sing, there is a baseline gifting that can be developed and honed, but must be there initially.

  2. Work Ethic
    The time commitment necessary to truly excel in a sport is high. Student athletes must have the work ethic to train for hours a day to develop the specialized skills necessary. Passion, or love, for a specific sport helps fuel that work-ethic and keep an athlete focused on difficult days. There are many athletes who have the physical gifting, but lack the desire or work-ethic to excel to an elite level.

  3. Accountability
    Student athletes must take responsibility for their results. Whether it is playing time, team role, or individual success, all must be left at the feet of the athlete. It is not the parent, coaches, teammates, or official’s fault. Children who are permitted to fail without excuse learn to take responsibility for their actions and control the things they can control. Those children are often the most-coachable kids and the best teammates, character traits coaches are looking for in players.

  4. Realistic Goals
    The odds of playing at the NCAA Division 1 level are extremely low (less than 3%). What’s more, many athletes at that level do not get full scholarships (especially men’s sports). Division 1 caliber players will be identified by recruiters. If you are not receiving Division 1 attention, the game changes and you must market yourself and expand your options (out of state, NAIA, Junior College, etc.). Playing at the college level is a privilege and every potential offer should be seen as a gift and real option. Most athletes who will play at the college level should choose schools based on the school that most aligns with their goals academically and financially, not based on notoriety. The competition to play for Florida schools is extremely high. An athlete who desires to play at the college level must expand their options to out of state schools.

  5. Intelligence
    Like physical attributes, intelligence is God-given. Learning the ins and outs of a particular sport can increase the chances of extending one’s career.

There are many more character traits, and each coach’s list is different. A college athlete possesses or develops different levels of each trait. If they possess them in a quantity that crosses the threshold necessary to compete at that level, they may get offers. Student athletes should do all they can to make themselves as attractive as possible to potential schools. Solid GPA and standardized test scores expand options. A student athlete who has a great attitude, a solid reputation with coaches, teammates and teachers, and is realistic about their skills and abilities will increase their chances of competing at the college level. If you have any questions about the college recruiting process, feel free to contact the CCA Athletics Office.


Keith Huisman is the Athletics Director at Calvary Christian Academy. He has served as athletic director in Christian Education for twelve years. He and his wife, Adrienne, attend Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale along with their three children and foster child.
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