By Bo Hanson – 4x Olympian, Coaching Consultant & Director of Athlete Assessments

The Advantage DISC gives in Recruiting


Increasingly the Coaches we work with want a better understanding of how to recognize the different DISC Styles during their recruitment process.  Firstly, we don’t believe in recruiting specifically for a profile, unless it is to fill a specific gap in the team dynamics you already have.  But with all else being equal, a lot of coaches look to the likely DISC styles of athletes in the final stages of recruitment.

Another key benefit of recognizing DISC Styles of the potential recruit early, is that it gives you a significant advantage in being able to build rapport.  Particularly in a competitive situation where you may be up against other professional or college programs, being able to quickly build a relationship and connect with the recruit will position you quickly as their leading choice.

Coaches who have a strong foundation in understanding the DISC model can personally connect with recruits in an efficient manner and quickly identify the likely DISC style each recruit is.

New to the DISC Model or in need of a refresher? See our Introduction to the DISC model in Sport or our Articles and Videos on DISC Theory and Application in Sport!  We also highly recommend our article on How to Identify another Person’s DISC Style for those interested in this topic.

In this article we provide strategies that can be used to recognize the various DISC Styles when recruiting.  Keep in mind any potential recruit is going to be showing you a highly adaptive state (potentially) as they will be “on their best behavior” (we hope!).  However, these questions and observations will help decipher how they prefer to behave.

Recognizing Dominance Style Athletes

Firstly it is about recognizing how they behave, for example, are they decisive and fast paced.  So when you ask them a question, do they reply quickly in a calculated and measured manner?  If so, they are likely more Dominance than anything else.  So recognizing Pace (speed) of response is critical and their choice of words.

Recognizing Influence Style Athletes

High Influence (High I’s) are relatively easy to pick.  First off, they smile much more than any other profile.  They look happy. When they talk they do so with enthusiasm and energy. They are fast paced and quick to respond but may not have “thought” much about their response and could “jump” around a little bit in their answers.  High I’s also appear animated and use their hands a lot while talking – they are interactive with the world around them.

Recognizing Steadiness Style Athletes

High Steady (High S’s) are slower-paced, quieter, humble and softly spoken.  They think about their response and choose diplomatic ways of describing things often keeping their true thoughts to themselves, particularly if they feel these thoughts could be different to your thoughts.

Recognizing Conscientious Style Athletes

High Conscientious (High C’s) are factual, formal and detailed.  They are slow paced, will therefore “think” about their answers and there could be a lot of long gaps in the conversation.  This is fine, because High C’s are processing and they do not process out loud like a High I’s will.  High C’s talk about processes and aspects and things relating to the task at hand, not about people and relationships like a High S or High I will.

Questions and Answers

So how can you assess these aspects of an athlete’s behavior during recruitment?  Here we provide some example questions, and how the different DISC Styles would likely respond.

1. Describe to me what you find appealing about sport?

High D — Winning, competing, challenge etc.

High I — Fun, outdoors, interesting, always changing, never the same, people.

High S — Working persistently through my skill, taking my time to choose the way to go about my skill, relationships with friends who play, being part of a club or team.

High C — Executing my skill perfectly, keeping score of how I am progressing, rules of the game, the structure of play, etc.

2. How would you describe your style of play?

High D — Aggressive and dominant.

High I — Go for my skill, feel based play.

High S —Steady approach and conservative.

High C — Analytical and structured (numbers game)

3. Who do you prefer to play with?

High D — Fast paced and decisive players.

High I — People who are happy to have a talk and discussion as we play and fun people.

High S — Quiet people who do not rush me.

High C — Players who take their time and think about their shots, quiet and tactical style players – measuring distances etc.

4. What style of player brings out your worst performance?

This question is the opposite of the previous question. But this is where you are looking for how well they know themselves and their game style etc. Those who cannot answer this are showing a poor level of self-awareness. This is not a deal breaker but a good thing to know about potential recruits.

5. What do you hope to get out of being part of this program?

High D — Focus on achievement and results.

High I — Focus on enjoyment and people and recognition.

High S — Focus on being a great, friendly team and making a contribution.

High C — Focus on being part of a program that is well structured, successful and organized.

Natural and Adaptive Answers

You should be aware of contradicting responses as this gives insight into differences between natural and adapting styles.  For example if you asked an athlete “Tell you about yourself?” You would find that High C and High D style athletes are naturally guarded, their responses will be relatively short and not go into great detail.  If they do go into great detail you may feel like it is not easy for them to do so.  This is an indication of an adaptation taking place.  On the other hand High I’s and High S’s may go into great detail responding to more than the question.  If they are adapting you may get the sense they wish to tell you much more than they are.  These adaptations can a result of the athlete’s nerves, or attempt to be on their best behavior.

Practice makes Perfect

No coach new to DISC will be able to immediately get a feel for the different DISC Styles present in new recruits.  Practice really does make a big difference.  With practice you can get to the stage where you will absolutely know what an athlete’s style is most of the time before you recruit them.

For more information on DISC we highly recommend our articles on ‘How to Identify another Person’s DISC Style’ and our articles and videos dedicated to DISC Theory and Application in Sport. 

Watch Bo Hanson talk about Recruiting and Assessing DISC Styles in Sport:

At Athlete Assessments, we’re here to provide you with excellence in service and here to help you be your best.  If there is anything we can assist you with, please Contact Us.

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