skip navigation

What Does "Character" Mean to Coaches?

By Next College Student Athlete, 08/21/19, 7:15PM CDT


Character building is something we are taught from an early age. Good character makes a big difference not only in the world but also on an athletic team. College coaches are judging student-athletes character on and off the court. Here is what character to means to college coaches and why you should take it seriously.

As you can imagine, college coaches are assessing the type of character a recruit has to determine if they would be a good fit for their team. The 2019 NCSA State of Recruiting Report surveyed over 20,000 athletes, parents and coaches —club, high school and college — about a wide range of topics associated with the recruiting process.

35 percent of college coaches reported that character was the most important quality they look for in a recruit. So why do college coaches consider character an important factor in determining if they want a student-athlete to be part of their program?

Clearing the character test first

Coaches want to know a recruit’s true character before they give an offer. “I think watching athletes play and how they interact with their coaches, teammates and parents is the most valuable,” stated one college coach in the NCSA survey. “It was [important] 10 years ago, and it still is today. Those interactions show a lot about the athlete’s character.” NCSA members can take a TAP test which gives them insight on their mental strengths and weaknesses and tips on how they can improve. Knowing your athlete type is another way to show a coach what type of character you have and if you are a good fit. 

Coaches want to make sure you’ll succeed on their team

Depending on the division, sport and school, a coach may sign the most talented athlete despite their character type. But the norm is for college coaches to take their time and clearly think about the type of player that they will be adding to their team. Coaches want student-athletes who will make an impact on their program athletically, but at the end of the day, a team’s success can be hindered by a student-athlete whose character is not up to par. 

That’s why finding high-character athletes who are coachable is so important for coaches; it gives them more confidence that a recruit’s enthusiasm, approach and work ethic will allow them to come into a new situation and a new system and adapt. 

High-character athletes still have to meet athletic standards

It takes more than just character to receive a spot on a roster. While having high-character is a good foundation, athletic ability is still a determining factor in deciding if an athlete can compete. College coaches often have many options when it comes to potential recruits, and the competition for roster spots can be intense. So, even though coaches say that character is most important, what they really mean is that character is most important when athletic ability is there, too.

Coaches have a lot on the line

At the end of the day, coaches are looking to do well in their careers. This means that they have to win games. College coaches have to consider high-character, athletic ability, academics and overall contribution to a team. Do you think you have the character it takes to compete at the college level? Read NCSA’s guide on how to get recruited.


NCSA is the world's largest and most successful collegiate athletic recruiting network. A wholly owned subsidiary of Reigning Champs LLC, NCSA's 700 teammates leverage exclusive data, proprietary matching algorithms and personal relationships built over nearly two decades as the industry leader to connect tens of thousands of college-bound student-athletes to more than 35,000 college coaches nationwide across 34 sports every year.

Other Articles by Next College Student Athlete

  • How to Get Recruited for Women's Water Polo

  • By Next College Student Athlete 01/30/2020, 9:00am CST
  • From 2009 to 2019, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) saw an 18 percent increase in girls high school water polo participation.
  • Read More

Social Media