USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities and play at the college level. Kyle Winters was a standout high school pitcher who tossed seven scoreless innings in a major tournament during his senior year. That performance against some heavy-hitting future MLB draft picks helped Kyle earn a full-ride scholarship to the University of New Mexico. However, Kyle opted to play professional baseball and was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the fifth round and played seven seasons for various minor league teams. Kyle is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience and dedication, along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community, have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
How would you describe your athletic mindset? Do you take risks or play it safe? Do you wear your heart on your sleeve or keep your emotions in check? How do you respond to setbacks? Take the TAP test to find out your Athlete Type.
The Troutwine Athletic Profile (TAP) assessment was developed in the 1980s by professional sports psychologist Dr. Robert Troutwine as a way to evaluate the mental makeup of elite athletes and combat soldiers. The TAP test classifies athletes into eight distinct mindsets — each with their own characteristics, strengths, weaknesses and tips on maximizing potential for athletes, parents and coaches. Today, the TAP test is used by over 5,000 US high schools, 2,200 colleges and a number of pro teams like the San Antonio Spurs and the New England Patriots. In addition, 73,657 student-athletes in the NCSA network have taken the TAP test and posted verified results on their profiles.
During the recruiting process, intangibles can easily get overlooked. It’s easy for college coaches to evaluate athletes based on speed, strength, height, weight, stats and academics. But these tangible things are just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, things like coachability, mental toughness and competitive desire can help coaches identify athletes who are likely to thrive in their program. Here are the eight Athlete Types and what they mean.
Trailblazer: Spirited Athlete Type
The Trailblazer is full of energy and empathy. They are great at creative problem solving and adapting in the moment. They have a tremendous amount of passion for their sport and love the thrill of competition. However, Trailblazers can be prone to distraction, complicating simple tasks and setting unrealistic goals. At NCSA, 7.2 percent of our student-athletes are Trailblazers. On a pro sports level, Cam Newton, Tim Tebow and Zack Greinke are Trailblazers.
Rocket: Driven Athlete Type
Are you cool, calm and collected under pressure? The Rocket might just be your Athlete Type. The Rocket is decisive, works hard to accomplish their goals and displays a killer instinct in high pressure situations. However, they can be prone to overconfidence and making decisions prematurely. While just 5.4 percent of NCSA student-athletes are Rockets, a high percentage of NFL quarterbacks are classified under this Athlete Type. This includes Tom Brady, Andrew Luck and Carson Wentz.
Eagle: Responsible Athlete Type
The Eagle has a great attitude and sets a good example for teammates to emulate. They show up to practice on time, follow team rules and pay close attention to detail. While the Trailblazer is driven by a love for the game, the Eagle is motivated by trophies and awards. However, the Eagle can be prone to overlooking their flaws and settling for mediocrity. They can also harshly judge teammates who don’t reach their lofty standard. At NCSA, 12.8 percent of our student-athletes are Eagles. On the pro level, Russell Wilson, J.J. Watt and Mike Trout are Eagles.
Engineer: Independent Athlete Type
Do you have a tendency to prepare for the worst? The Engineer is extremely careful to avoid mistakes. They tend to be cerebral and stay on their toes during competition, but their aversion to risk can lead to overcompensating and missed opportunities. In addition, the Engineer needs plenty of praise and support to keep their confidence level high. 20.4 percent of NCSA student-athletes are Engineers. In the pros, Aaron Rodgers, Dirk Nowitzki and Cole Hamels are Engineers.
Knight: Protective Athlete Type
Knights listen before they speak and make decisions according to a strong internal belief system. They are very respectful of rules and prioritize time spent with close family and friends. However, Knights can be closed off and it can take time for coaches to earn their trust. They tend to clam up when upset and avoid conflict whenever possible. At NCSA, 21.3 percent of our student-athletes are Knights, the highest percentage of all the Athlete Types. In the pros, Kirk Cousins, Giancarlo Stanton and Manny Machado are Knights.
Musketeer: Helpful Athlete Type
“All for one and one for all.” The Musketeer has a strong desire to help others. They own up to their mistakes and are always willing to lend a helping hand. They also try not to jump to conclusions and are tolerant and open-minded. However, Musketeers have a tendency to focus more on the team than on winning and can be hesitant and low on confidence. At NCSA, 13.8 percent of our student-athletes are Musketeers. In the pros, Von Miller, Clay Matthews and Andrew McCutchen are Musketeers.
Ice: Methodical Athlete Type
Ice athletes are never satisfied and always looking to improve. They are self-critical and goal driven. They set long-term goals and work hard during the offseason to sharpen their skills and shore up their weaknesses. However, Ice athletes can be prone to putting too much pressure on themselves and dwelling on mistakes. They tend to see the glass as half-empty. At NCSA, Ice athletes comprise 7.5 percent of our recruits. In the pros, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Judge and Chris Sale are Ice athletes.
Maverick: Dynamic Athlete Type
The Maverick is innovative, adaptive and rebellious. They are willing to take risks and comfortable adapting in the moment. The Maverick is reluctant to conform and comply to a rigid routine — they prefer to live in the moment and come up with new solutions on the fly. However, the Maverick is also prone to sloppiness and winging it.
While this Athlete Type might not be ideal for coaches with lots of rules and structure, a high percentage of star pitchers tend to be Mavericks. This includes Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Justin Verlander and Jake Arrieta. The Maverick’s creativity and ability to adapt can make them hard for batters to predict. At NCSA, 11.7 percent of our student-athletes are Mavericks.
Which Athlete Type is the best?
It depends. Each Athlete Type features a unique set of pros and cons that hinge on your sport and position. The Rocket’s poise under pressure can help them lead a fourth quarter touchdown drive. The Maverick’s willingness to tinker can help them fool batters and pitch out of jams. The Musketeer’s team-first mentality can help promote a tight-knit team culture. A strength in one situation can be a weakness in another. Take the TAP test to learn your Athlete Type.