Why Women's Soccer Powerhouse Santa Clara University Values A Recruit's Mentality Above All Else

Jerry Smith, one of the winningest head coaches in college soccer history, explains why he and his staff spend so much time evaluating recruits' mentalities.

Santa Clara's women's soccer is a titan of their sport.

The program, which boasts alumni such as Julie Ertz and Brandi Chastain, consistently ranks among the top 10 teams in the nation. For the past 32 seasons, Jerry Smith has been the man at the helm. Smith is one of just three coaches in Division I history with more than 400 wins.

To maintain Santa Clara's winning tradition, Smith and his staff must be vigilant recruiters. It's not so much about assessing where a recruit is now, but rather forecasting where they might be several years down the road. In the above video from the Positive Coaching Alliance, Smith explains why a player's mentality is the best predictor of future success (or lack thereof).

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Santa Clara's women's soccer is a titan of their sport.

The program, which boasts alumni such as Julie Ertz and Brandi Chastain, consistently ranks among the top 10 teams in the nation. For the past 32 seasons, Jerry Smith has been the man at the helm. Smith is one of just three coaches in Division I history with more than 400 wins.

To maintain Santa Clara's winning tradition, Smith and his staff must be vigilant recruiters. It's not so much about assessing where a recruit is now, but rather forecasting where they might be several years down the road. In the above video from the Positive Coaching Alliance, Smith explains why a player's mentality is the best predictor of future success (or lack thereof).

"The mental side of the game is by far the most important determinator of future success," Smith says. "So we spend most of our time trying to evaluate the mental side. Certainly we do that with going out to games and practices, but we also do our homework. We talk to their coaches, we talk to people that we have in that area that are reliable resources for us. We're trying to get some background on a student's mental toughness, their accountability, their ability bounce back."

"Are they resilient? Are they a team player? Do they have a team-first attitude? Are they a positive influence on the group? Are they someone who is receptive to coaching? They want to learn and get better. And have the work ethic to back it up. So those things on the mental side are by far the most important things for us. It's probably the thing we spend the most time evaluating."

A young athlete can swear up and down that they're resilient, driven, a great teammate, etc., but ultimately, actions speak louder than words. If someone were to come to your coaches or teammates and ask them some of the questions Smith outlined, what do you think they'd say?

To find this full resource and over 2,000 others from Positive Coaching Alliance, head over to pcadevzone.org.

Positive Coaching Alliance is dedicated to building Better Athletes, Better People and is a proud contributor to STACK.

Photo Credit: Santa Clara Women's Soccer on Facebook

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Topics: SOCCER | MENTAL TOUGHNESS | COLLEGE RECRUITING | RECRUITING PROCESS | HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS | WOMEN'S SOCCER | COLLEGE SPORTS | POSITIVE COACHING | POSITIVE COACHING ALLIANCE