You know as well as I that it can be extremely stressful, especially with the NCAA rules limiting communication, to have your sights set on getting recruited by a soccer program and not know exactly where you stand or what’s next in the recruiting process. In last week’s blog, I shared some of the questions college soccer coaches typically ask my staff when they’re evaluating potential recruits. Since that post went live, quite a few families contacted me to learn more about what happens “behind the scenes” between recruiters and coaches – and how it affects their recruitability.
The short answer is this: a lot of thought and communication goes into every recruiting decision, and it’s my staff’s job to both advocate on behalf of players and provide an honest assessment of their potential. That said, recruiting isn’t about ticking boxes or having the answers to a test. Each college program applies unique criteria to evaluate potential recruits, and a player who’s a great fit at one school could be a total mismatch at another. With that in mind, today I’ll share Part Two of the list of questions coaches typically ask and talk about why those questions – and the answers – matter.
Is the player a leader or a follower?
Do they enjoy taking responsibility and ownership?
How do they communicate and interact with you and other coaches?
How do they deal with change in practice and in games?
Are they a competitor?
Do the parents advocate for the player or do they advocate for themselves?
What makes them angry?
Do they socialize within small groups or with the majority of the team?
Do they play with complete confidence?
Do they look for reassurance from their parents on the sidelines?
What are their training habits?
How do they handle disappointment?
What has been their biggest area of growth since you've been observing them?
What are some of the player’s areas of improvement?
What has been the evaluation of coaches that have worked with the player?
Does the player have any siblings that play sports?
Did the parents play sports?
In my opinion, these are all great questions for a coach to ask and will certainly yield some valuable insights. But what’s more important than what gets asked is why they’re asking. So before you worry about having the “right” answers, let’s unpack the reason that questions like these are being asked at all. When a coach recruits a player to their college program, they’re looking for someone who’s a good overall fit. Yes, goals scored, high school honors, state championships and other accolades are important, but they’re not the only considerations. If a player can’t handle constructive criticism, or prefers a relaxed culture over a more demanding environment, these are all pieces of information that can help a coach predict whether the player will thrive in their program.
As stressful as this process is, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone (and I do mean everyone) is seeking a successful outcome. The last thing coaches, players, parents or recruiters want is to have an athlete’s lifelong dream of playing soccer in college culminate in four years of riding the bench watching teammates thrive in conditions that just aren’t right for them. Taking the time to look below the surface allows a coach to understand the complex, nuanced personality of the player they’re considering – and then evaluate how they might fit in with the coaching staff, the other players on the team, the philosophy and values of the program, the academic demands of the school, as well as a host of other factors. The bottom line is this: focus on being the best player, person, parent, family you know how to be and don’t worry about the rest. Surround yourself with experienced, knowledgeable advisors and trust that your recruiting journey will take you to the best possible school for your talents, abilities, ambitions and personality.
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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.