College Recruiting Player

6 Tips for Creating Soccer Highlight Videos for College Recruiters

A former athlete at a Power 5 school's athletic department helps you create an exceptional highlight video.

by Daniel Smolenski

I currently work in the production department of a Power 5 School, where I help with the TV production of various collegiate athletic events. I played soccer growing up and was a goalkeeper for as long as I can remember. After numerous concussions I was forced to stop playing and had to find different avenues to be a part of the sport I love. These include coaching and refereeing club and ECNL games. Through my high school media class I learned how to edit videos, soon after I was approached by athletes at my school wanting highlight tapes done. After much research and input from local college coaches I had a set of tools to make a highlight tape to get soccer player’s spotted.

COVID-19 has completely changed college recruiting. Recruiters are unable to view games in person because of NCAA travel restrictions, and athletes are barred from visiting college campuses to show off their soccer skills. 

In short, there’s no “in-person” evaluating or recruiting going on by the NCAA. 

College coaches are spending more time viewing player highlights on their screens, so video is more important than ever if you hope to play NCAA, college-level soccer. In this new recruiting landscape, coaches are relying heavily on digital profiles like Trace-ID to easily view players’ top moments and to get a sense for how players’ skills have developed over time. 

With these college recruiting changes in mind, here are some strategies for creating a strong highlight tape that will stand out among the thousands of videos that land on the desks of recruiters.  

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The 6 Strategies for Creating Soccer Highlight Videos that Stand Out

1. First impressions are critical. Research by Princeton psychologists has shown that it only takes is a tenth of a second for an interviewer to form an impression of a stranger. Luckily, college coaches have longer attention spans (but not by much!). Coaches receive dozens of tapes a day, so players really have about 10 seconds to capture the attention of coaches. For a soccer highlight reel, this means that you lead your video with your 25 yard volley or Upper 90 save first. Your top 5 plays should be your first 5 plays.

2. Keep it short. According to the NCSA, the highlight video should be 3-6 minutes long and include 20-25 clips of game action for field players. I would go even further to avoid losing the attention of the coach and recommend videos of 2-3 minutes tops.

3. Highlight yourself. Assist the coach in keeping the focus on you, because it’s often very difficult for coaches to read jersey numbers accurately. You can highlight yourself in any number of ways, but most players use a simple arrow, a circle, or a spotlight over a paused clip.

Example of highlighted moments using Trace iD

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4. Avoid the distracting montage music. Most coaches watch these on mute, so stressing over the perfect sound track or spending hours timing a beat drop is just not a good use of time. You will not get a spot on an NCAA team by including Imagine Dragons in your highlight reel. The player makes a good tape. Not the music.

5. Create a “well-rounded” and “position-specific” video. College coaches are not just looking for your goals & saves. Players should highlight specific skills, and the best videos break down examples of these skills into sections. For example, a forward might include sections focused on scoring goals, assists, and movement off the ball.  

6. Lead with your player profile and contact info. Below is a fantastic example from an athlete using the Trace iD bio. At a minimum, recruiters need to see name, phone number, and email address. More thorough profiles will include details like graduating class, height, weight, hometown, relevant athletic statistics, and contact info for coaches. 

Example of Player’s About section in Trace iD


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