Spring is here and with it, a new season of soccer. With ODP tryouts, State Cup games and college ID camps to prepare for, emotions can easily get the best of you. And while the opportunity to be seen by the college of your dreams is exciting, it can also be unnerving. Beginning at a very young age, my own soccer career was filled with high-pressure situations and moments where all eyes were on me. I learned as a young player that it was essential to block out distractions and focus on performing at my best despite the circumstances in which I found myself. Only by remaining calm could I deliver results for my club and country. Here’s my advice to help young players remain calm under pressure.
Represent yourself well by being the hardest working player out there. Show that you’re willing to pressure intensely, tackle strongly, get forward to try to score goals, and recover when the ball is turned over. Instead of putting your head down when you make a mistake, sprint back to recover. Coaches want someone who will give it their all in every training session and game, so demonstrate your persistence and ability to adapt and transition.
Communicate Well and Often
In the women’s game especially, players often fail to communicate well, both visually and vocally. Be a good communicator, regardless of what your teammates are doing. Let them know loudly when they’ve got time, have a “man” on them, and when you’re open. Coaches take notice when you’re willing to speak up and help execute the team’s vision.
Don’t let your nerves get the best of you, trust your training and preparation for this moment. Be decisive on and off the ball. Determine when it’s the right time to dribble, to pass, to be selfish, or to share the ball. A coach won’t be keen to recruit you if you’re a ball hog or do the same thing time after time. Put your knowledge of the game to work and make the best choice for each opportunity.
Show Your Potential
Coaches want to see that you have the potential to develop, make a positive impact, and adapt to their style and vision. They’re looking for players that show promise and are willing to take risks. Are you coachable? Are you taking constructive criticism well? Can you implement feedback from coaches in the moment, even if you haven’t trained? Demonstrate this in every ID clinic you attend and leave coaches with the impression that you are a student of the game who will never stop learning.
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Chris Bart-Williams is the founder and owner of CBW Soccer Elite. After an extensive career in the English Premier League, Chris now uses his vast soccer knowledge to assist families throughout the college recruiting process and prepare players for the mental and physical challenges of collegiate soccer. You can reach Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.