Last weekend I hosted a talented group of young athletes at a soccer clinic in Miami to help prepare them for the demands of collegiate competition. What a fantastic experience! I really enjoyed working with these players and watching them absorb and apply new technical and tactical information to up the ante on the pitch.
To help the players understand what they’ll likely experience as college freshmen, I presented them with challenging tasks that tested their limits and took them outside their comfort zones. The young men and women worked extremely hard, giving their all to grasp the training topics and maintain a high level of energy throughout the 90-minute session.
This particular clinic focused on improving players’ skill-sets in some of the fundamental areas they’ll need in college: 1v1 defending, possession, movement of the ball and of each player. After some initial drills, I put the athletes into a game situation so they could practice applying what they’d just learned. It was great to watch: Each player took risks and tried out new skills – an excellent first step toward taking their game to the next level.
The parent education portion of the clinic came next. I included this format with the field training so families could begin to understand the different steps in the college recruiting process and learn what it takes to compete in different college conferences. When I started to discuss recruiting with the parents, at first there was quite a bit of confusion and anxiety about the process. Many parents didn’t know that, for example, players should start thinking about recruiting in the 8th grade. Or that college coaches care a lot about a potential recruit’s grades. Or that athletes can have their scholarship reduced or rescinded if they don’t meet the program’s standards.
We dug into the details of what the recruiting process looks like and parents asked some great questions. By the time we wrapped up the education session, there was much more understanding – and everyone also knew they had work to do!
After the event, players told me they weren’t expecting the level of intensity and that this was the first time they had been exposed to these topics. It’s common for high school athletes to be caught off guard by the mental and physical demands of college soccer.
The good news is, they’re beginning to understand what it means to play at the next level while there’s still time for them to prepare. With consistent hard work and additional guidance on the skill-sets that must be mastered, these players will be on the right path to succeed in college.
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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.