By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published May 26, 2015 at 9:16 AM

Whenever a pro scout, or college scout for that matter, fills out a form for an athlete they are watching, there are a number of categories they must consider.

In some sports, however, some categories are most important, and the differences in those attributes by some measure accounts for the differences in sports.

Let’s take a look at some of the qualities scouts look for and in what sport they are most important.


In some ways, this is a hard one to measure. Do you see how much a player can lift, or do you measure the strength of his or her legs? Strength is important in a number of sports, but I think it heads the list of qualities you are looking for in a football player. While there are a lot things you hope for in a football player, without strength, there’s not much hope.


I’m discounting track events, where speed is the object. And I’m talking about foot speed here. How fast can you run? While it’s an important factor in many sports, I’d have to say that speed is at the top of the list for a great soccer player. Speed is even important to a defensive player in soccer. Part of the reason is that a soccer field is so big, an advantage goes to a player who can cover ground faster than the other players.


This is a tough one for me. What you are looking at here is a sport that doesn’t have lots of stops and starts. Football and baseball, for example, are strenuous, but there is ample opportunity for rest. I’d say that soccer and basketball both are exceedingly taxing, given that you can be called on to play for an extended period of time. So those two are the winners.


It’s harder to measure than just giving somebody a Wonderlic test, which is a popular measuring tool namely for football players. For the ability to absorb significant amounts of knowledge, I think football is the most demanding. If you’ve ever seen a football playbook, you will understand what I mean. In addition, out of all the athletes I’ve known over the years, football players as a group are far and away the smartest I’ve ever known.


The ability to avoid out of control emotions under pressure is important in a lot of sports where quick action is required. Think basketball, for example. And putting a golf ball requires steely nerves. But nothing matches the nerve needed to drive a race car, either a stock car or an Indy car. Imagine driving over 200 miles per hour just inches away from another car or two traveling at the same speed. lt makes me crazy just thinking about it.


It’s the ability to both give it out and take it. Football, hockey and boxing come to mind easily, but it might be surprising to consider that you have to be tough to play basketball in the NBA. If you watch closely, NBA basketball is a full contact sport. There is no room for wimps in the NBA.

Hand/eye coordination

Ping pong is on the short list, but I think the nod here as to go to baseball. I can’t imagine anything more difficult than trying to hit a baseball whizzing toward you at more than 90 miles per hour. You need to see it and then make your hands move to complete the task. Plus, if you are successful just one out of every three tries, you are considered a resounding success.


Again, ping pong is close to leading the list, and hitting a baseball also has to rank up there. But I think tennis demands repeated quick reactions, always changing and happening in the blink of an eye.


This is the athlete who never gives up, the one who persists no matter what the score is. In basketball, it’s the player who plays with the same effort whether he’s 20 down or 20 up. Out of all the athletes I’ve ever known, two of them stand out. One is John McEnroe, who never ever gave up on a point or eased up. The other is offensive tackle Greg Koch who is in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. Even playing on lousy teams, Koch always strapped it up on every play and never backed down or got worn down. The one thing you knew about him was that he always, always gave his very best. I’m going to call a tie on this one between football and tennis.

That’s the story on what traits are most important in certain sports. The one that’s missing is "nice guy." But we all know where nice guys finish.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.