Welcome to the new year! 2019 is already shaping up to be chock full of excitement and new developments in soccer recruiting. While the team at CBW Soccer Elite is busy placing players in college programs, we’re also thinking about ways to make the recruiting process even easier for families. Many players and their parents have shared with me that they’re feeling especially fatigued this month after a winter break that was anything but restful. Believe me, we understand how stressful and time-consuming the college recruiting journey can be. To help you stay focused and moving in the right direction in the coming months, I’ve identified a few priorities that will help you focus on what matters most.
Choose a school that wants you. While this may sound like a no-brainer, my staff spends a great deal of time helping families interpret the messages received – or not received – from college coaches. For a variety of reasons, including politics, budget, and old-fashioned good manners, student-athletes often get confusing signals from coaches about their level of interest. For instance, a coach saying, “We’re going to keep watching and evaluating” can mean anything from, “We’re planning to make an offer” to “We’re really not interested.” Interpreting coaches’ feedback may ultimately require a few candid off-the-record conversations between the coach and the person who’s advocating for that player. The bottom line is, though, families must be objective when interpreting feedback. Hopefully the school you love will love you back, but if you don’t receive genuine interest after a coach has seen you play, it’s best to refocus your attention on schools that are excited about you. After all, deciding to play for a program for four years is a serious commitment. Make sure your future coaches are as excited about you as you are about them.
Know what you’re getting into. You may be sensing a theme here: I really can’t overemphasize the importance of being objective when selecting a college program. Do your homework and investigate everything from the food in the cafeteria, to extracurricular activities, to the availability of safe, accessible study spaces. Most important: gain a thorough understanding of the athletic environment and your future coaches’ expectations. How much playing time can you expect? What are the academic requirements and how will you juggle your coursework with a demanding schedule of practices and games? How many hours will you spend training with the team and how much extra training will you be expected to commit to? What resources are available to assist student-athletes who struggle to keep up? Make a list of everything you’d like to find out and then step back and compare your findings to see if they match your goals and priorities.
Choose the right ID camps. While it’s a popular belief that more exposure means more interest – therefore dozens of ID camps should be attended – the truth is that you don’t need to go to lots of ID clinics to get recruited by a school where you’ll be happy and successful. When it comes to ID camps, be selective about which ones to participate in. If you don’t already have a short-list of schools you’re prioritizing, make one or ask someone to help you narrow down your list. Ideally you should attend no more than a handful of ID clinics per year, so pick your favorites and make them count by giving your best performance.
Prepare thoroughly before campus visits. After you’ve determined a coach is genuinely interested, go for a visit. Even if the school isn’t your top pick, it’s good practice to get a feel for the process in a low-pressure setting. You can tour the campus, meet the coaches and the team, figure out what types of questions you’ll be asked, and decide what questions are important to get answers to. A good practice when preparing for a visit is to know your strengths – what separates you from other players – and to be prepared to articulate them to coaches. You should also have watched several of the team’s recent games and be aware of what they’re doing technically and tactically that you’ll need to learn. All of this is crucial practice for when you visit the schools that do interest you. And, you never know – one of the schools might pleasantly surprise you.
While the college journey is by no means a breeze, taking a more intentional approach to the process will help you find a school that’s an excellent fit and provides an environment for four years of positive, life-changing experiences. Good luck!
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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.
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