2020 has certainly brought with it a lot of uncertainty, unfamiliarity and questions. This, of course, extends into college athletics recruiting, as many institutions find themselves worrying about finances, cutting entire sports programs and debating when students should return to campus. Understandably, these myriad unknowns can make the recruiting process feel even more overwhelming and daunting than usual.
Reframing this period to view it as an opportunity for reflection can be a healthier and more useful approach. Taking a moment to reflect can help you to recognize the patterns you’ve fallen into when it comes to club soccer and recruiting, and determine a more effective and targeted plan of action going forward. Consider the following:
Your Current Soccer Club
Club soccer across the nation finds itself at a virtual standstill, with seasons, practices, and showcase tournaments being postponed or cancelled. Why not take advantage of this pause to re-evaluate why you are playing club soccer and see if your answer aligns with your long-term goals?
Many families find themselves playing for clubs year after year due to comfortable routines, friendships and familiarity. Those reasons are all valid, but if your goal is to get recruited by a top program, consider how involved the club and its coaches are in its players’ recruiting process.
Even the best clubs, with the highest levels of play, do not provide individualized recruiting support. While playing for a highly competitive club is valuable, it is not the most important factor when it comes to recruitment. Take a moment to list out your soccer career goals and then evaluate whether being a member of your club will help you achieve them.
Recruiting During COVID-19
Recruitment during this time will largely be dependent on recommendations, especially for those in the class of 2021. With so many uncertainties around the fall season, budgets, and travel restrictions, college coaches will be less likely to attend showcases, camps and tournaments when they eventually start again.
Think about how you’ve been planning on being recruited, and what you’ll need to adjust now that many opportunities are on hold. Does your club have a history of helping players find spots at collegiate programs? Do your coaches have relationships with college coaches, whom they can call to recommend you?
Recruiting services like mine are invaluable in guiding families and providing individualized support. They are especially critical during this time when coaches will be relying on student-athlete referrals. Prep schools are also beneficial as those athletics programs have already cultivated close relationships with coaches and built trust with many top tier academic and athletic institutions.
What You Can Do Now
While play is restricted, there is still plenty you can do to grow your game and boost your chances of playing collegiately. Ensure that your highlight reel is up-to-date, clearly indicate where you are in each clip, and send it along to coaches that you’re interested in. Use social media as a tool as well, following programs you like and uploading clips of yourself getting in touches and staying fit. Lastly, take a look at my recommendations for staying in shape at home and watching professional games, as these are essential.
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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.