Nothing quite brings out the best in an athlete like great competition. And that’s exactly what evaluators at USA Football’s Regionals are hoping to see.
It’s at Regionals where USA Football coaches identify and hand-pick players who will potentially represent the U.S. National Team in international competition.
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The competition at Regionals is fierce, with the top players in a given region all coming together to develop as overall athletes. USA Football evaluators are tasked with making observations about a player's athletic ability, character and football intelligence.
“We are looking for the complete athlete,” said Aaron Ingram, senior manager of USA Football’s National Team program. “We want kids that stand out on the field, have the right attitude and are coachable.”
And that evaluation starts long before individual drills, position drills and 7-on-7 periods begin. It starts the second athletes arrive.
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“Our evaluation starts when these kids walk in the door. How are they carrying themselves? How are they acting? How are they treating the people who brought them to the camp?” Ingram said. “These things are indications of how serious athletes are taking the camp. We don’t want to babysit. We have a job to do and that’s to play football.”
When it comes to on-field performance, Ingram and other coaches are looking for position-specific traits. These tangible skills are listed in buzzword format, allowing coaches to quickly identify terminology that indicates an athlete's level of talent.
“I don’t ever want to hear an evaluator just say that an athlete is ‘a good player,'” Ingram said. “We are going to evaluate an athlete on what they are today, not what they could be.”
Athletes who display natural hips, explosive feet, quick hands and top-level speed certainly get evaluators' attention. While winning the drills is important, coming back after making a mistake can be just as impressive.
“Athletes need to recognize the importance of their reps and make every one count,” Ingram said. “With that being said, it catches our eye when a kid bounces back from a bad rep and shows us that short-term memory.”
Ingram and other evaluators will sift through thousands of athletes over the next few months.
It’s these tangible traits that can help an athlete stick out to a scout and in the end, land them a roster spot wearing red, white and blue.
This is an updated version of a blog that originally published March 15, 2017.