What Attributes Coaches Recruit

There are many discussions and comments about what coaches think is important when recruiting athletes. The other day I saw someone from Texas talking about the 'intangibles' and their importance.

What is often forgotten is the cohort we are talking about. When Texas consider 'intangibles', they are trying to decide among their picks of the best 10 players in the country, for, probably, 3 open roster spots.

But what happens after that. If the 20th ranked college had an opportunity to sign someone with the skill and physical capacity to play for Texas but they were not quite the teammate they would prefer, what would they do? If the 1,500 ranked college program had someone who the 100th ranked college would want, what would they do?

More generally, how do we weigh up a player's coachability and strengths as a teammate, against their skill and spike reach?

I thought I would chart this:

People think that being a good teammate and being coachable is important and this will be reflected in the offers made for HS volleyball players. They think that as the good teammate and coach ability increases on the x-axis, the good ones will be rewarded. The hustlers, the first to training, the 'how high should I jump' players will be rewarded. And people will see through the talented players who are selfish, or argumentative or lazy or stubborn.

But this doesn't happen. What actually happens is:

In reality coaches will select the players who play well and who are tall. They would LOVE to have the ones who are great people but they will almost always back themselves to be the ones who can 'fix' the problem players. There will be a slight skew towards the quality of the person but anyone good at playing will be recruited.

The history of successful teams is full of players who were not good teammates and 'uncoachable'.

Data Explanation

  • There are 450,000 girls playing HS volleyball
  • Approximately 20% are seniors, which makes 90,000 eligible for recruiting
  • There are about 2,000 college programs and let's assume that on average they have 1.5 spots available for incoming freshmen. This makes 3,000 available rosters spots.
  • The scatterplot represents a normal distribution of both Skill+Spike Reach and Good Teammate+Coachability
  • Each dot represents approximate 5 players
  • The axes are arbitrarily decided and are representations of what people generally assume to be 'intangibles' and 'ability'
  • No, this data doesn't take into account walk-ons, the number of scholarships, and many many other things.


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