The main things to look for in a player when scouting, with the intention to recruit, were covered in the article about elite players.
Now I want to cover one of the properties that is impossible to identify solely by scouting at games. That is,
A player may currently have great qualities and all the potential in the world, but if they are not willing to work their asses off, I don’t want them – nor should any high level team, or coach that intends to build one.
Not only will this player not continue to develop regardless of coaching efforts, he effectively acts as a cancer to whatever team he is on.
As a coach, if you have instilled a professional level environment where everyone is expected to train hard, you can not have a player who thinks he doesn’t have to work due to his current “talent”. This attitude is transmitted to other players and begins to strain the unity of the group. This is unacceptable.
So how can you find out about a player’s work ethic? Well, you would think that speaking to their current coach would be enough, but unfortunately in this country we likely won’t get an accurate picture.
You see, we’re talking about recruiting to a high level, high intensity environment. In this country the number of coaches that provide this kind of training is extremely small. Most players don’t know what a professional level session consists of. So the coaches making an assessment of work ethic are correct only to the level of training they are providing. It may very well be the case that when the player in question begins training at a truly high level (out of their comfort zone), they are shocked and don’t have the mental fortitude or willingness to go through with it.
I have been to many training sessions at high profile youth clubs, even youth national teams, and in general they are terrible. Not high quality, not high intensity – certainly not a professional level environment. I have found college session are generally better, but still leave much to be desired. They are not pushing their athletes to the next level.
Under these conditions any recommendation or reference about work ethic is only reliable up to the level of training the player has received.
What’s a scout/recruiter to do? I’d love to hear your ideas.
When watching games, you can pick up on a lot about the player through small, often unimportant plays. If they make a mistake and turn the ball over whats their first instinct to do? Head down or immediately track their man down to win the ball back? This is just one example which, in my mind, exemplifies their work ethic.
Gary Kleiban says
Thanks for bringing that up Brian!
You’re right. That definitely is an indicator. I will add that there are a lot of youth players who appear lazy, but actually have the potential for a great work ethic with the proper motivation and environment.
For instance, their coach and/or team culture may be so poor that they have been “worn down”. That is, they used to do exactly what you describe, but not their teammates.
In this situation, you just don’t know until you take them under your wing.
El Memo says
Gary, can you video tape one of your sessions and share. I know there is a thousand details we’ll miss or we won’t get because of context. But I would like to gauge Intensity, messages, material, etc. I know, it is not a silver bullet. I really get that. But it’ll give an opportunity to see into your mind to those of us far from California.
Gary Kleiban says
We’re working on that.
I find the harder you work players the more they focus and the more they enjoy the sessions . If they think that you as a coach are switched on then they do also . If you put on a slack session they seem to pick up on this and react likewise .
Gary Kleiban says
I agree with you Steve.
The art is in making your players feel you are ‘working them hard’ for the right reasons.
These articles are amazing and I am completely in your awe for introducing me to what you know! Could you please describe in much more detail, what training routine is required for players with a high work ethic from your perspective? I understand that different players playing different position will require a different type of schedule but if you could push me in the right direction it’d make a massive difference. Thanks in advance!!