The idea of coaches having “favorites” can be a sensitive subject for some people, but if we’re all being honest with each other, we all have favorites in some form or fashion. One coach even penned a letter (I Do Have Favoritesthat talks about how he has favorites, and why he’s not ashamed to openly talk about it.

Now that we’ve established that coaches have favorites, and there’s nothing wrong with that, let’s move on…

I wanted to take a look at what do we, as coaches, look for (consciously or subconsciously) in players before considering them “favorite” material, and what can a player do to work his way into one of those valued “coach’s favorite” spots.

To start, the favorite players of coaches do what is asked of them, and do it to the best of their ability, and they get more instruction because more is expected of them, and provide an important model for other players to strive to be more like.

To be a coach’s favorite has very little to do with talent, and a whole lot to do with a variety of other things. Here I highlight the 11 habits that student athletes possess that make them a coach’s favorite.

1 – They master all of the things that require no talent
There is a graphic that has made its way around social media highlighting the ten things that require no talent. A few weeks ago, I took a look at those 10 traits, and added a few of my own, and they include; being on time, work ethic, effort, body language, energy, attitude, passion, being coachable, doing extra, being prepared, the words that come out of your mouth, your willingness to change / have an open mind.

2 – They’re ready to listen, willing to learn, and then immediately apply your instruction
Something as simple as being coachable can go a really long way to being a coach’s favorite. It shows that you trust the staff, and that the staff can trust you to do what is being asked and expected.

3 – They show respect to your entire coaching staff, and everyone involved in the school and your program
Favorites are often the guys who coaches send out to talk to the media, or the community, because they know that they’ll represent the program in a great light. Favorites are the kids that understand that perception and place an emphasis on representing the program, and themselves, well in the eyes of others.

4 – They are great role models in the community
A lot of times, favorites are the types of guys that exhibit the type of qualities that make them role models in the community. They’re the type of people who exhibit the type of traits that make it okay for your son or daughter to date them, and that’s one of the highest compliment a coach with kids can give a young person. Favorites are the type of kids that you want those group kids playing touch football behind the bleachers to say, “Hey I’m so-and-so”.

5 – They always do what is in the best interest of the program
A coaches favorite can’t be selfish. They often put their own wants on needs on the back burner for the sake of the program. Sometimes that means doing something like switching positions outside their comfort zone for the sake of the team, or stepping into more of a leadership role because that’s what the program needs. Coaches value that type of stuff a lot because it allows the highest chance of success for all involved.

6 – They make the right decisions on the field, off the field, and in the classroom
Favorites are the guys that coaches don’t have to worry about being a knucklehead and getting in trouble in class, or bullying other students. They provide a great example for others to strive to be like on and off the field.

7 – They don’t miss those “non-mandatory” activities
Coaches like to say that not all team activities are mandatory, but on that same note, playing time is also not mandatory either. Favorites often view non-mandatory activities and workouts through the same lens as a coach, and understand the important role that they play.

8 – They’re fully bought into the culture and vision that the head coach and coaching staff have for the program
It’s impossible to go out there and truly give it everything you’ve got if you don’t believe in the vision that the head coach and his staff have. Favorites are often the guys that are on board first, and then bring others on board as time wears on.

9 – They never let their emotions get too high, or too low
Regardless of the adversity they hit, or the highs and lows during a game, they never let their emotions get too high or too low where they can’t control themselves.

10 – They do the little things when no one is watching
Picking up the practice field, or wiping down tables after a team meal to make the clean up easier on the janitor, and getting in some extra work with their back up after practice are all things that have a special way of going a long way with coaches.

11 – Coaches know that they can trust and depend on them regardless of the circumstance
Whatever the team, life, or the season throws at them, coaches know that they can depend on their favorites to rise above it.

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Content manager – Doug took the reins in 2011 and the website has been better ever since. A former college player and small college coach, Doug now serves as assistant head coach / offensive coordinator at West Ottawa HS (MI).