For student-athletes, college recruiting can feel like a confusing and perpetual mix of unanswered emails, nerve wracking showcases and ID camps, and flattering but indecisive phone calls, interspersed with rejection and exasperation. It’s easy for these experiences to be escalated when you hear about the commitment of a teammate who, until now, had been in the same boat as you. So, what can you do? Here are some recruiting tips that we give our clients to help alleviate the stress and frustration that seem to go hand-in-hand with the journey to the NCAA.
A key aspect of successful recruiting is paying attention to details. When you’re emailing coaches to watch you play, what information are you including? They’re not going to be able to watch you if they don’t know which field you’re on or the jersey number you’re wearing. Be sure that your emails include all the information they’ll need to make sure that recruiting you is the easiest part of their day. We suggest including jersey colors and numbers, field numbers (and maps!), game times, and even the positions you may be playing. Coaches respond positively to student-athletes who are organized and prepared. I’ve previously posted tips for communicating with college coaches that you may also find helpful.
Be Vocal – On and Off the Field
Self-advocacy is an important skill that all student-athletes should focus on. Continue reaching out to coaches to keep them informed about upcoming games, showcases, and the ID camps you plan on attending so that they know you remain interested and passionate about their program. On the field, make sure you’re heard. Communicating clearly with your teammates (“Time!” or “Man on!”) shows those watching that you know the game and are confident enough to share it for the betterment of the team. It’s the easiest thing to do, yet coaches often cite on-field communication as a missing skill among young athletes, especially women.
When it’s game time, performing to the best of your ability is critical. You’ve prepared consistently for these moments in practice and extra training sessions, so you have everything you need to make a positive difference. I’ve shared some specific tips for standing out on the field in a recent blog post, and can’t emphasize this enough: Make sure that you take advantage of any and all opportunities – you never know who is going to be watching.
Engage a Recruiting Service
The latest NCAA recruiting bylaws prohibit any kind of recruiting conversation – whether it be in person, on the phone, or through emails – until September 1st of a high school athlete’s junior year. Recruiting services act as an intermediary between athletes and college coaches so that both have the most relevant, up-to-date information. Recruiting services can inquire about openings in a program’s recruiting pool, feedback for a player after a coach has watched them play, and potential scholarship opportunities. This gives a huge advantage to student-athletes who know where they stand with each school and can pinpoint the areas they need to improve upon to increase their recruitability going forward.
Follow this advice and you'll likely find yourself closer to making your college soccer dreams come true.
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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.