Vol.2, No.3

What coaches are looking for in high school football players

Football coaches look at 2 distinct areas when making up their football teams. Measurable traits such as size, speed and strength as well as intangible traits such as heart, effort and dedication.

High school football coach
Photo Credit: Matthew Dula
When a football coach begins spring or summer practice sessions. There are many questions and needs he has to answer and figure out from a vast talent pool of high school athletes for his team. Looking at measurable qualities such as height, weight, speed and strength help to determine where a player might be best positioned. Intangible qualities such as desire, work ethic, toughness and dedication also play an important role in helping a high school football coach determine his teams make up.

Usually a high school football will have weight training sessions going on year round. This helps the players to work on improving strength, speed and size. Most coaches work in the weight room supervising and monitoring their respective player's individual progress through out the year. This gives a coach a year round perspective into a player on an individual basis.

If a player is dedicated and works hard substantial physical improvements can be achieved and this usually translates in to more success on the field. Coaches look for improvements in areas of strength gains in certain lifts. These lifts primarily include the squat, bench press, power clean and dead lift. These individual exercises help a coach to measure a player's improvement in muscle strength and power. A coach will also test a player in speed and agility drills to measure improvements in speed and conditioning. These drills are the 40 yard dash, a T drill and the vertical jump. All of the tests provide a coach with measurable physical improvements as well as provide a personal look into an individual player.

For a coach to see a player work hard in the weight room on a year round basis this can provide much more then just lifting improvements. A coach can see positive character traits begin to develop such as dedication, work ethic and toughness. Unfortunately the converse can also begin to show itself. When a coach notices a player not work hard in the weight room and be inconsistent with attendance this usually can show unfavorable characteristics. If a player is unwilling to work in the off season and dedicate himself to improving he tends to labeled as lazy, selfish or an underachiever.

Coaches look for a broad scope of physical, mental and personal characteristics in potential football players. The physical and mental demands football puts on the human body are harder then any other sport. High school coaches usually work with players for four to five years. This helps to develop and build a foundation of understanding into what each player is made up of character wise and what personality traits they possess.

For a coach having football players that show things such as dedication, a work ethic and continuous effort provide the sharpest insight into what impresses them. These qualities provide a basis for an athlete to work hard in the weight room, practice hard on the field and give maximum effort during a game. During a year a team only plays about ten actual football games. So the hundreds of practices and weight training sessions are where a positive impact and impression can be made to a coach. This is what a football coach on the high school level looks for most.