Coaches’ Opinion – What do you value the most in a player?

What do you value the most in a player?

In this article, we will find out what coaches have to say about players. Thus, it´s also interesting for the players to know what we look for as coaches. 

I asked the coaches of the top 5 teams in Liga Asobal last season, according to their own perspective and experience the following question: “What do you value the most in a player”?

Their opinion is very interesting. I would like to thank all of them for taking a bit of their time to answer with great interest to my request. 

Xabier Pascual (F. C. Barcelona’s Coach)

To me, the important thing is to know  in which category the player will be placed, that is, he can either be a player who will compete or a player to be part of a group, regardless of  his skills. In my opinion, I should value a player according to my needs. Taking this into account and in order to be able to select a player, I would ask myself: “Which player do I need?”.

I believe that in a group, there must exist a set of different conditions, and a player must have the kind of characteristics that I ask for (this would be if the player were to join the group). If the player is going to compete, despite being related to other players, there is a more specific goal, for example, find a specific task expert: shooter, central defender, etc. For me it’s really hard to sum up in only three characteristics what I value the most in a player.

On the other hand, the answer lies in the players that I already have, so it is essential to value their best skills. For me, the most important thing is that they know and accept their role within the team, both on and off the field. That’s what I really value the most in a player. 

Talant Dujshebaev (Vive Kielce’s Coach)

In my opinion, the key elements for choosing a player are talent and character, because everything else can be worked on.

Manolo Cadenas (former Spanish national team’s Coach)

First of all, I value whether the player has the physical and technical qualities the team´s game level requires.  On the other hand, it’s also important that the player has the ability to train hard daily and also the ambition to develop his abilities to the maximum, as well as the will to play with intensity and competitiveness.

Juan Carlos Pastor (Pick Szeged’s Coach)

To answer that, I refer to the ideal player, that should gather the follow attributes:

  • Be a healthy player, that is, not injury prone and with the ability (and will) to train with a high level of intensity;
  • Be physical, technical and tactically developed, speaking specifically of handball;
  • Be psychologically strong, especially in the difficult moments;
  • Be a leader in the group and in the game;
  • Be a good person (that is, a good professional);
  • The less skilled players or that are part of the youth team should be willing to learn, work and collaborate in everything that is needed.

Mariano Ortega (SL Benfica’s Coach)

What I value the most in a player is the humility, stability, consistency, generosity, competitiveness and intelligence. These are the values we pass on to the players, since day one.

My personal contribution

After asking this first-rate coaches for their collaboration, I feel compelled to make a small contribution to this article.

As a coach, I assume that when we place our hopes on a player, we do it according to certain physical, technical and tactical abilities, because otherwise we would always form a “team of friends”. Regarding the game, I appreciate having players that complete a “real team” and not just names (even if they are some important ones); it is crucial that all together we can form a compact team with the ability to defend, attack, transit to the counter attack, and so on.

Beside players being chosen by their sport performance, it is important that other aspects are taken into account:

  • The player focus should be working for the team, that is, to be prepared to help the team whenever it´s needed and not waste energy with other less important things – thinking about how many time he plays, in which minutes, in what position, etc;
  • Be mentally strong when things won´t go as planned (avoid frustration);
  • Work hard everyday, placing the collective above the individual, and at the same time taking responsibility for the team and for the club;
  • Have the ability to learn and be prepared to use all means and interest for improving what is asked;
  • Have as a daily motto “the only thing that is not negotiable is the effort”;
  • In some cases, engage with matters that go beyond the game, according to the role and importance the player has within the team. 

In all cases, if I had to summarize in one word what I value the most in a player, it would be commitment, which does not mean the same as being engaged. The player must be fully committed to the club that he plays for and, at the same time, he must promote the development of his team.