Soccer combines are a fantastic way to meet and get seen by college coaches and scouts from around the country. These events offer similar benefits in terms of exposure as showcases and ID camps, but combines are designed to test an athlete’s technical and physical skill set, in addition to showcasing player ability in a full-sided game.
Check out this video for a few strategies for succeeding at soccer combines, then read below to get into more detail!
1) Prepare for Lots of Drills
Soccer combines typically involve tests that assess speed, strength, and skills. In order to prove that you have what it takes, you have to show well at events. While showcases give players opportunities to interact with coaches and compete in a game environment, combines are designed to assess physicality.
These events start off with a number of technical, fitness, and agility drills to get a true evaluation of how you stack up against the rest of the competition. While there are specific things that each coach is looking for, all coaches are looking for a player who is well rounded and consistent. The higher level you get, the more well rounded each player will be – that is why professional’s are where they are, on top of their utter desire and commitment to being the best at what they do.
Below is a video that recaps the Ventura County Fusion Pro Combine, which has some great insight as to what a typical combine looks like and what those Coaches are looking for.
2) Plan to Interact with College Coaches
Combines are hosted so college coaches can identify players with promise. The event page of the combine will typically list which coaches will be in attendance. Often, these coaches will run technical sessions then coach players in a full-sided game. Take the opportunity of being around these coaches to ask them questions about technical skills or about their programs.
Follow up with coaches after the combine with more information about your academic and soccer profile, and ask them if they’d be open to receiving periodic updates on your soccer progress.
3) Do Not Get Intimidated
Combines bring together top talent from across the region, which can be intimidating to some players. Get in a growth mindset and remember that playing alongside other talented players can only help to raise your game. Read 5 Strategies for Building a Winning Mindset on the Soccer Field for more tips for staying focused and developing a winning mindset.
4) Be Receptive to Feedback
College coaches are interested in seeing that players are “coachable” and can internalize feedback to make quick adjustments. The worst thing an athlete could do at a combine would be to argue with a coach. If you’re attending these events, you likely have a desire to play at the next level, and receiving feedback from top trainers is one way to understand what you need to do to get there.
Even more impressive are players who seek out the feedback from coaches. Do not be afraid to speak to coaches about areas you know you can improve.
5) Don’t Let the Technical Tests Stress You Out
Once the ball drills and fitness/agility training is done, players will typically move into a small sided possession or match, then moving onto a full field game. This is what coaches truly care about.
Performing in a game-like scenario is what will sway the coaches to pursue you as a player. To put it simply, if you showcase well in the game, a coach will notice you. There will undeniably be specific things they are all looking to add to their team/program, but if you’re noticeable on the field, it’s tough to overlook. This is why intangibles such as intelligence and field awareness can override some variables they may have had in mind previously.
6) Record the Combine with a Soccer Camera System
The combine can be an important part of the college recruiting process, but it’s not the only way to get noticed. Coaches are increasingly using game film to evaluate players and to track progress over time. Use a camera like Trace to record your combine performance so you can send this video to college coaches in the weeks and months after the combine.
Recruiting tools like Trace iD can also be a powerful way to communicate with coaches. Trace iD allows you to organize your moments into specific playlists to highlight certain skill sets. Coaches simply need the URL of your Trace iD to evaluate your performance and even watch full game footage.
7) Never Give Up
Although you can be seen and invited in a single visit, it typically takes multiple tryouts or forms of communication to land a place on a team, regardless of the level. If you aren’t recruited at your first visit, use your footage and relationship building skills to understand what the coach is looking for and how you can fit that mold. Ultimately, these combines are what you make out of them, but it is never a bad decision to put yourself in front of coaches and high-level decision makers.
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