The Role of Friendship in Player Recruitment and Coaching Success


I was asked to summarize who I see as a great coach in one word. Two football coaches come to mind as great coaches; first and foremost is Sir Alex Fergusson and the second is Jorgen Klopp. The one word I use to summarize their success is “Friendship”. They were great at knowing the names and even the details of their players and staff. It was said that Sir Alex knew everyone in the club by name and their birthday. It was also said that Klopp knows all of the player’s birthdays and the birthdays of their children.

  1. After reading the NCAA’s definition of recruiting and considering what makes a great athletic recruiter, my one word shows up. 
    • Yes, for sure, A player would not want to play in a hostile environment, keep that in mind. A welcoming environment with good values can speak louder than the most prestigious place with hostile one. “Relationships are the foundation of coaching and even though a relationship is a two-way street, it’s the coach’s responsibility to pursue a real relationship with their athletes. Coaches hold a place of respect and authority, but still feel reachable enough for athletes to open up and view their coach as a role model or mentor.” [1] Being friendly or establishing friendships means you are starting the communication and relationship/connection process of the recruitment journey. You understand the person, in this case the player, and once you understand the player you both will know if this is the best fit. So I do believe this would be needed to be a great recruiter, since this answers the long-asked question “friend or foe?”
  2. Does your sport/coaching experience, and more specifically your own coaching philosophy, intersect with what you believe is the skill set of a great recruiter? Why or why not?
    • Yes, they do. Who would want to interact with a stranger on a daily basis? They need to have an established relationship in order to have trust and feel comfortable. Between a player and coach there’s a relationship between mentor and mentee or student and teacher. So, you can imagine if there’s a bad relationship between them there’ll be unique conflicts. Also, it allows learning opportunities both from the coach, the team, and the player’s side. “A team with both senior and junior members is more likely to deliver good long-term results if its members enjoy positive relationships with each other. Collaborative team settings can lead to a transfer of skills between the more experienced workers and the less experienced ones. This can ultimately benefit both the workers and the organization.” [2] If we replace workers with player recruiters, players, and coaches, the statement will remain true and sound since essentially this idea of friendship comes from a psychological aspect. Everyone wants to be valued and establish some sort of relationship.
  3. What is your initial reaction to the idea that great coaches are not necessarily great recruiters? With your coaching and recruiting philosophy in mind, what do you believe are the top three coaching traits/skills and top three recruiting traits/skills for program success? Support your opinion.
    • I wasn’t surprised by the fact that a good or great coach may not necessarily be a great recruiter since in some cases there are different attributes that a coach has that would make them unqualified to be a recruiter. For example: their ego and doing what they want can put stress on the receiving end and can make people not likely to interact with that person as they would seem hostile and not friendly, again going back to the “friend or foe?” statement. Similarly, a great player of the sport is not necessarily a great coach of the sport. Some of the top coaching traits/skills for program success include empathy, curiosity, and positivity [3]. For recruiting, some of the top traits/skills include communication, active listening, and confidence [4]. On the coaching side we can deduce that empathy only occurs when there’s some sort of level of understanding between two people so you will empathize with their situation. Curiosity will be the driver to ask questions and get to know the ins and outs of the player, while positivity again will only come through an established relationship. On the recruitment side, we can deduce that communication is a definite requirement skill. Who would talk to a non-friendly recruiter? Probably no one as active listening is an element of friendship. As for the confidence aspect, I believe Rick Hanson’s explanation sums it up by saying: “When you are friendly to others, you offer them these same benefits. Plus you get rewarded yourself. Being friendly feels confident and happy, with a positive take on other people, moving toward the world instead of backing away from it. And it encourages others to be less guarded or reactive with you”[5]


[1] Gels, ames. (2017, September 18). The importance of a strong coach-athlete relationship. NFHS. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

[2] Team, I. E. (2023, February 28). 8 reasons why it’s important to build workplace relationships. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

[3]  Team, I. E. (2022, December 2). Essential coaching skills for strong leadership | Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

[4] Team, I. E. (2022, December 5). Top 10 recruitment skills for successful recruiters. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

[5] Hanson, R. (2012, November 7). Be friendly. Psychology Today. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from

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