Hacking the Recruiting Process from the Inside
Coaching Legend Jeff Sauer on Getting Recruited
Jeff Sauer is one of the NCAA’s most respected and winningest coaches to ever grace the league. He’s coached the Wisconsin Badgers and Coldorado College for an entire career. He won NCAA national championships and knows how to recruit a top NCAA team.
After retiring, Sauer was interviewed on what he looked for from recruits.
1. Skating Ability and Agility
Sauer’s first item was always a recruits skating ability. If you didn’t have exceptional skating ability, he wouldn’t touch you. He would go to games and watch players skate, gauge their agility, watch their body language and how the player handled himself on the ice. Once he got a feel for the skating he’d consider looking at the rest of the player’s game. So it’s no surprise that skating is the first item on NHL Central Scouting’s Rubric.
2. Signs of Character and the Mental Game
Sauer loved to watch how a recruit would react to other players on the ice in a game and during warmup. He takes notes on what happened when the recruit got back to the bench after a bad shift or a goal scored on him. He believe that how a player carried himself on the ice spoke a lot about his character. Only character guys were recruited to play for the Wisconsin Badgers.
Sauer said he used to call the recruit’s opposing coaches and ask them what they thought about the him and what he was able to do on the ice. An opposing coach would give Sauer a better read on the kid’s attitude and abilities than his own coach, who Sauer perceveied to be somewhat biased, promoting their own.
3. Parents (as deal breakers)
Just like MSU’s Tom Newton, Sauer says a recruit’s parents can be the deal breaker. There were great players that he didn’t offer a spot on the team to because he didn’t want to deal with the parents. He said:
I think if you ask any coach in any sport, that coach has made a decision not to pursue a player because they didn’t want to deal with the problems that come with the parent.
On the flip side, when a recruit’s legit and has reasonable parents, Sauer would find himself having to sell the parents on why his program was a better fit. For that, he knew that he had to sell the moms because he would be taking their child away from them for the first time in life. The mom’s are more concerned with the personal things, like how the player was going to eat. The dads, says Sauer, are just concerned about their son getting to play hockey.
*Part of JHR’s How to Hockey Series
Jr Hockey Recruit relies on great freelance writers and content contributors for some of its content. We are currently looking for people with great writing, photography and video skills to contribute on topics from minor hockey and training to NCAA and CHL hockey. If you are interested in contributing contact us at email@example.com