As you navigate the college recruiting journey, it can be difficult to watch your teammates commit to college programs – and celebrate their hard-earned accomplishments – without feeling at least some pangs of envy. After all, you’re training multiple times a week, clocking extra hours in the gym, cross-training, recovering, eating right, studying hard, and giving your best effort in games, showcases and ID camps. You might ask yourself, no matter how much you like him or her, why your teammate reached this milestone before you.
With so much invested – and at stake – in your soccer career, when a teammate announces they’ve committed to play in college, it can be tempting to ask, When will I be chosen? For better or worse, the path to college is different for every player, but there are some things you can do to get through the recruiting process with your confidence intact.
Resist the urge to compare yourself to others. No matter how much love you have for your teammates, how long you’ve played together, or how your skills might compare, everyone’s college journey is unique. It’s impossible to know all of the factors that go into a coach’s decision to recruit your teammate – or overlook your talents – so don’t waste precious time worrying about things you can’t control. When you’re tempted to judge or be envious of a teammate’s situation, choose to focus your attention instead on what you need to do to get to the next level.
Lean on your parents, coaches and advisors for support. If it’s true that it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes something akin to a city to raise a student-athlete who goes on to play soccer in college. That is to say, the college recruiting journey is intense and can sometimes push your mental, physical, emotional and financial resources to the limit. To counteract these pressures, be sure to surround yourself with people who care about you and who you can count on to be objective and put your best interests above all else. Include people with a variety of perspectives and areas of expertise – and be sure at least one of your crew has a solid track record when it comes to college recruiting.
Stick to your plan. Whether you’re the first on your team to commit to college or the last, put a recruiting plan in place and stick to it. If you’re not sure what a recruiting plan should include, ask someone you trust for help. Then work hard to execute your plan and make adjustments as needed – like when you get feedback after a showcase – that will help you demonstrate to coaches that you’re continuing to evolve your game.
Get your head straight. As we’ve mentioned before, your mentality is a massive factor in how well athletes perform under pressure. At the collegiate level, everyone is in excellent physical condition. Success in college will depend as much on your mental toughness as on your technical ability or your fitness level. Being in a good place mentally, and making a mental preparation plan part of your training regimen, will allow you to perform consistently well and stand out to college scouts. If you aren’t already working with a sport psychologist, it’s something you should consider.
While it can be tough to summon enthusiasm when your teammates commit before you, remember that your time will come. Do your best to be gracious and supportive. After all, that’s how you’ll want to be treated when you announce your own happy news.
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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 him at firstname.lastname@example.org.