Year of Publication


Date of Thesis


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Exercise and Sport Sciences


Recruiting student-athletes with the most potential for high athletic performance is a crucial factor for athletic program success and revenue generation for collegiate athletic departments (Caro, 2012). Research suggests that coaches do consider ‘intangible factors’ while recruiting. However, it is unknown if coaches are recruiting for athletes who have mental toughness attributes. Athletes with high levels of mental toughness are more likely to see improved athletic performance which is desired by collegiate coaches (Sheard & Golby, 2007; Weissensteiner, Abernethy, Garrow & Gross, 2012). The purpose of this study was to conduct a phenomenological investigation into the psychological factors coaches consider during recruiting process. NCAA Division I coaches from the Northeast, Midwest and Southern US were contacted to request their participation. Six coaches (four male, two female) met the criteria for participation in the interview. Sports included: men’s basketball, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s volleyball, baseball, and field hockey. Interviews, ranged from 27-55 minutes in length. They were transcribed verbatim and coded into respective themes. The final thematic structure (and sub-themes) of indicators that coaches considered during the recruiting process consisted of: The Recruit as a Person (“What’s the kind gonna be like when he comes away from home?”, Integrity, Work ethic), Recruit’s Interactions with Others (Observable interactions with teammates and coaches, Observable interactions with parents, Gaining information from outside sources) Desired Competition Behaviors (Recruit’s on field behaviors, Demonstration of psychological skill use) and Fit with Program. Overall, the findings suggest the need for the sport psychology field to continue to develop mental toughness awareness in coaches.



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