As high school soccer season approaches, it can be tempting to put college recruitment on the back burner and instead focus on soccer. Although I strongly encourage athletes to play high school soccer for the many benefits it can offer to young players, if you plan to play soccer in college, you must continue to actively engage in the recruiting process.
Think about it: Hundreds of thousands of student-athletes across the country are actively pursuing college commitments and taking steps year-round to get identified by coaches. The numbers don’t lie: just 7% of high school girls’ soccer players end up competing in college; for boys, it’s only 5.5%. To stay relevant to college programs and keep their interest piqued, it’s important that you keep promoting your “brand,” or you risk falling behind and potentially lowering your NCAA prospects.
Follow this recruiting to-do list to stay on track during the high school season.
1. Attend ID camps at your list of target schools. ID camps can be excellent venues to demonstrate your talents for coaches who will most likely not attend your high school games. Be strategic and choose camps that will have the most impact on your recruiting process. Consider these 11 must-haves for choosing an ID camp.
2. Speaking of target schools, use the next few months to streamline your college list. Make sure your list is closely aligned with your goals and abilities, and that you’ve included a range of different options. Here are some tips for creating the perfect college list.
3. Get extra training from a qualified coach to supplement your team practices. High school season is the ideal time to enhance your strengths and boost your weaker areas with private instruction. Players with college aspirations should plan to train 3-4 times each month with a high-quality coach, plus additional sessions with specialized trainers.
4. Create – and refresh – your highlights reel. Keeping your video current is a great way to show coaches something new, and demonstrate that you’re evolving and improving as a player. Use the high school season to gather new footage and create an impactful video that markets your unique set of skills.
5. If you’re eligible to communicate with coaches per the NCAA rules, email them your highlights reel along with a well-crafted note explaining how you see yourself making a positive impact on their program. Stay away from form letters and templates, and instead opt for a personalized letter that shows you’ve done your research.
6. Visit college campuses during school breaks and get a feel for what it might be like to spend four years there studying and playing soccer. During your visit, take in a soccer or football game, visit the academic facilities, ask questions, and make a list of pros and cons so you can compare various schools later when it’s time to commit.
If you follow these guidelines and keep working on recruiting during your high school season, you should be in a strong position when it’s time to head back to your club.
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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.