In our first installment of our college preparation series, we covered how to identify schools that would be a good fit for you. In part two, we are going to dive deeper into the recruiting process. How to continually get seen. The mentality it takes throughout the process. A few tips from those that have done it before. We will cover it all and more. Take a few minutes out of your day to learn a bit more about getting recruited!
There are tens of thousands of youth soccer players who aspire to play soccer at the next level. Thousands of games played each weekend. Hundreds of tournaments throughout the fall, spring, and summer seasons. The competition to get noticed is pretty high. Some players have the luxury of being coveted by many programs and therefore don't have to put in a lot of work when it comes to getting seen. For the majority of players, you have to take control of your own recruiting process.
Once you've put together your list of potential schools that you would be interested in, it's time to start reaching out to the programs to let them know who you are. A lot of players want to know what college soccer recruiters look for. Every coach is different. But there are a few basics that should take you a long way. Being proactive is a great start. College coaches have to sift through thousands of players to decide who they want to focus on. Get ahead of the game. Put your name in their sightline so they can at least start to consider you. Sending an introductory email that shows who you are, what you've done, and where you will be playing can often go a long way. Check out what former James Madison University and current professional goalkeeper TJ Bush had to say about the recruiting process and how to get noticed.
Players also need to understand the NCAA rules for recruitment. There are certain dates and periods of contact that are acceptable by NCAA standards. Understanding these rules and taking advantage of those periods will be huge throughout recruitment. Here is a link to a website that gives you a full breakdown of the rules and guidelines for college soccer recruiting. Read it, understand it, adjust your process accordingly.
Now that you understand the recruitment rules, take advantage of them. Contact the schools, share the information they need to know, FOLLOW UP. Too often, players think they can just send their schedule, have a coach come to a game, and that's it. You were one of many that coach watched on the day, make sure you stay at the forefront of their mind. Send follow up communication to thank them for coming, ask for feedback, share future playing dates. Don't just sit and hope. Take matters into your own hands.
Contacting coaches on your own is a good start but it most likely isn't your only resource to utilize. You'll soon learn that connections are key. Ask your club or high school coaches who they know and how they can help. Don't assume that these coaches are working on your behalf. They have an entire team to take care of so be proactive and ask for help. Share your desires, the schools you're interested in, and discuss the best path to getting to where you want to go. You can do it on your own but the recruiting process becomes a lot easier when you utilize your resources.
Reaching out to coaches is great. Utilizing your network to get you seen is even better. But it isn't a one time thing. One email won't get you a scholarship. One text message from a youth coach won't earn you the opportunities you're looking for. You have to be consistent, both on and off the field, in order to be successful in the recruiting process. Let's talk more about the consistency you need on the field.
I said it earlier; there are thousands of games played every single month. Coaches are watching A TON of games throughout the recruiting process. One game most likely isn't going to secure your recruiting future. On the flip side of things, a bad performance doesn't doom you to the depths of college soccer club teams. This is especially important for goalkeepers to understand.
Often times, it's hit or miss as to whether a youth goalkeeper will get any action worth noting for a college coach. This is where doing the little things well can be important. Coaches notice how well you communicate even when your team is dominating the game. They will notice how engaged you are when the ball is on the other side of the field. It's not just about making saves. Treat every performance with the same level of importance and you will have a better opportunity to be successful in the process.
Have questions like when can colleges start recruiting for soccer? Check out our Ultimate Guide to College Soccer Recruiting available FOR FREE on our website!
Don't just rely on showcase tournaments or club games to get yourself seen. Put yourself in front of as many faces as possible whenever you have the opportunity. Now that you have a list of colleges that you want to go to, look at their camp schedule. Whether it's a college ID camp or simply an overnight camp, it allows you the opportunity to interact with the staff and showcase your skills consistently for a number of days. Read how UNC Charlotte goalkeeper Dan Kuzemka utilized these opportunities to get recruited by some of the top college soccer programs in the country.
Very rarely is the college recruiting process easy. It's going to be challenging, mainly from a mental perspective. Everyone wants to be the first player to commit to the school of their dreams and announce on social media that they've received a full ride to play the sport they love. It isn't always going to work that way. There will be minutes, hours, and days of waiting for responses from coaches. There will be poor performances in front of large college coaching crowds that make you question if you're going to get the opportunity you want. There will be adversity in this process. It won't be easy but it will definitely be worth it.
A big part of being resilient is how you respond to adverse situations. How will you react when your dream school tells you they aren't interested? What will the next step be when certain coaches don't respond to your messages? It's a marathon, not a sprint. You can't give up after one let down. Not every school is right for you, no matter how much you may think it is. Recover from set backs and stay the course. The long term goal is to play at the next level so keep that in mind. Our mental strength course gives a lot of great insight into how to stay mentally strong throughout situations like the recruiting process, check it out here!
It's a test of character. Coaches want to see how you perform on the field under pressure and what you do off the field that makes you worth the risk of bringing into the program. Show who you are and what you bring to the table from a playing perspective and from a personal perspective. Being proactive, showing your consistency, and having a bit of resolve throughout this process will most likely yield some very good results.
For the last installment of our college preparation series, we will break down the decision-making process and how to make the decision that best suits you. Check out this series and more on our blog now! You can also connect with us via social media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.