College Coaches Are Using Personality Testing To Evaluate Recruits

Jeff Bower Personality Assesment

It is a common occurrence in corporate America for employers to require potential employees to take a personality assessment. These tests are used to determine your values, interests, personality, and how those traits will translate in the role that you’re applying for.

Professional sports franchises have been using these tests for years to evaluate drafts prospects. The tests are meant tell general managers and coaches how a player will handle pressure, react to challenging situations, and adjust to the lifestyle changes that come with being a professional athlete.

Because to the courting process that comes with college coaches trying to lure top high school prospects to their programs, the use of personality assessments on the collegiate level has not been as prevalent. Simply put, although they may view it as beneficial, college coaches are scared to ask a prospect to take a personality assessment because they feel it may discourage a top player from signing.

But now there are some coaches that are asking their recruits to take a personality assessment, not only to determine what type of player they’ll be, but also to determine what coaching style would better suit them. Former NBA assistant coach and current head basketball coach at Marist College, Jeff Bower is one of the few coaches that uses a personality assessment to evaluate recruits.

“I’ve seen its value in the past in the NBA and I can see its value even more in a college setting,” Bower said. “We’re not looking for any one quality in particular. We’re looking for how individuals function best and what their natural instincts are. We think it’s a tool that will help us blend personalities together and bring the right kind of person here.”

One of the higher profile coaches that has used this technique is former Tennessee Volunteer women’s coach Pat Summit, who began using the testing in the 90s.

Former All-American Chamique Holdsclaw’s survey showed she thrived under intense pressure in the most challenging situations, so Summitt emphasized during the recruiting process that if Holdsclaw came to Tennessee, she’d be playing for a demanding coach in front of fans who’d expect Final Four runs every year. Point guard Kellie Jolly’s survey suggested she was a perfectionist who was hard on herself when she made mistakes, so Summitt knew to offer encouragement after poor possessions rather than tearing into her further.

As we know with most things, it only takes one coach to be successful using something new for it to catch on. I’ve taken my fair share of personality assessments and can see where they would be beneficial on the collegiate level. I’m not sure how accurate they’d be at evaluating talent or even assessing how someone will perform under pressure, but I can definitely see it being a useful tool in helping coaches better know how to effectively coach and motivate their players.