What is a college showcase?
A college soccer showcase is much like a normal soccer tournament, but specifically designed for young athletes looking to play in front of college coaches and scouts in an effort to be recruited. These are typically arranged for high school age groups and put together across different regions so that high volumes of NCAA and NAIA soccer coaches can attend and assess players from all over the country.
The Importance of coaches coming to your soccer showcase games
The sports recruiting scene has transitioned to a much more remote-centered method of communication, but there is still major value in getting coaches to your games and meeting in-person. Coaches like to recruit in person, but there are some obstacles in doing so; travel budget and the number of players they’re interested in are just a few examples that determine the attendance of an NCAA or NAIA soccer coach or program.
At the end of the day, every coach will tell you they want to see you play first-hand. They want to know if you can play at the next level, but they also want to assess other invaluable traits that come with watching any athlete in person. Are you a good teammate? What is your attitude like? Do you practice good sportsmanship? All of these factors come into play when deciding whether they want you to play at their program or not, and watching you play in person allows them to see everything they need to see before taking the next steps.
How to get coaches to your college soccer showcase
1) Record and organize your high-quality highlights
The best way to start a relationship is by introducing yourself via email and including some of your best highlights right off the bat. This way, coaches can quickly identify you as a player and see if they’d like to pursue you as a recruit. When it comes to highlight videos, we recommend that you record all of your games with an AI camera system like Trace so that you don’t miss any of your plays throughout the season. With Trace, your best highlights and performance metrics will automatically be sent to you after every game. From there you can use your Trace iD to easily organize and share those with college coaches.
When sending your Trace iD or highlight video to a coach, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure that you’re sending personalized footage of you. If you’re sending off a sports recruiting video, make sure the video highlights you and not your teammate. A great way to capture close-up footage from different angles is with MultiCam. Multicam allows you to record games from the sidelines with your phone while the TraceCam is recording from above so that you can catch all of your best angles and send ESPN-like highlights with the click of a button.
We recommend that you keep your highlights short and sweet (ideally 3-5 minutes) and always keep your video up to date! Work on your highlights weekly so coaches can see your most recent footage and be sure to include footage that you think the coach will enjoy watching. For example, if you know that a coach leans toward a more defensive style of play, be sure to include highlights in the defensive third or your work to win the ball back – these little things can go a long way when catching a coach’s eye and finding the best fit for both parties at the next level.
2) Build a list of schools you’re interested in
It’s critical you do some research before reaching out to coaches. Remember that there are schools of all sizes and regions and there’s sure to be a great fit out there for you. But with a high volume of options, it can be difficult to narrow down. This is our favorite school searching website if you’re looking for a list of programs broken down by collegiate division, region, tuition, and several other filters. You can then dive deeper into each program and find details such as team record, roster, and coaches contact information so you can begin your contact list. It’s best to identify names, emails, and phone numbers and record who you reach out to as you go.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to send coaches a text! Emails can get easily buried and you’d be surprised how many coaches respond!
3) Create an email template you can send at least a week in advance
Now it’s time to build out an email template. Any email to an NCAA college coach should include an introduction, an attention grabber, and a few questions to encourage a response. Per The Player’s Guide to Emailing College Coaches, email is the fastest way to get on a coach’s radar, so put your best foot forward and be persistent. Here are a few key things to include in your email:
- Introduction with your team name, position, and jersey number
- Trace iD link or highlight video
- Upcoming game or soccer tournament Schedule
- Questions you’d like to know about their program
Once you’ve put these together, create a generic template so you can send this off to multiple coaches roughly one week before your showcase. It’s the easiest way to save time, and remember to address each coach by name as a personal touch! Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from your first email either; coaches are busy and are often recruiting many players from all over, so don’t be afraid to send multiple emails and do everything you can to let them know why you would make a great fit at their program.
4) Use your coach or club resources
Most clubs around the country offer college pathway programs, which include help, advice, and resources to identify and aid the college recruiting search for their players. Here’s one example of a college pathway program from one of our current partners, Legends FC. The college soccer community is smaller than you think, and any additional help you can get from your directors or coaches is going to increase your chances of playing at the next level. Your club wants what’s best for you as a player, so find out what your club offers and let them know how they can help you.
How to stand out at a college soccer showcase
1) Prepare, prepare, prepare!
To stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to prepare like the best. Healthy eating habits and consuming the proper nutrients you need to maximize energy and performance are vital to performing at your best. Foods such as carbohydrates, lean protein, vegetables, and lean fats are all recommended foods to focus on, per Lancaster General Health. It’s also critical to hydrate days in advance. “Almost every measurement of performance – aerobic endurance, strength, power, speed, agility and reaction time – decreases with as little as 2% dehydration”, says Children’s Health.
Other things you can control are focusing on practice the week before and ensuring match fitness. It’s important that your training leading up to the weekend is as game-like as possible – this will subsequently keep your fitness levels high. Don’t let these minor details reduce your performance and instead sacrifice a bit of your week to put in a top performance!
2) It’s showtime!
Once you’re at the showcase, it’s go-time! You may be feeling a bit of pressure, and that’s okay. Treat it like a tryout and come ready to play and impress. Coaches want to see skill, intensity, high IQ, and personality. If coaches are attending your game, remember that they typically have many other players they need to go see, so make the most of the time you have their attention. Control what you can control and be sure to work your absolute hardest regardless of the flow of the game. Don’t be afraid to try things either – coaches want to see the skill that makes you a special player!
3) Engage with coaches!
Depending on your age group, you’ll likely be able to engage with coaches when they’re at a soccer tournament. Take advantage of this! If you’re not at that stage, here’s a quick guide to the college soccer recruiting timeline for reference. Putting a name to a face is powerful, and coaches will remember the athlete that introduced themselves to them over the weekend. This is the time to learn more about them and engage if you can catch them after or between games. Here are a few questions you can use to find out more about them and their program:
- How has your season been going? How did your season go?
- What does your current recruiting class look like? Any specific positions you’re focused on for the upcoming class?
- Do you have any ID Camps coming up on campus for me to attend?
You want to find out as much as you can about their program while you have them, so don’t be shy, and remember, this is the first step to your relationship with any given coach!
How to Follow up with coaches after a college soccer showcase
Following up from the weekend is essential regardless of a coach’s attendance over the weekend. If they were able to make it to your game, thank them for coming and continue the conversation. Find out more details about their program, their interest levels in you as a player, and then begin further discussions about official visits and scholarship opportunities. Hopefully this can lead to a discussion about an official offer!
If they were unable to make your games, don’t worry! Share your weekend results and any personal highlights you had from the weekend in your follow-up. The next closest thing to them seeing you in person is seeing your newest highlights – and that can be just as valuable in some cases. Be sure to update your Trace iD or video and look for alternate ways to get in front of the coach. One of those ways would be to attend the college ID camp put on by each school. This allows you to see the campus and play in front of a coach if you weren’t able to before. Keep the line of communication open because you never know what can happen!
A college soccer showcase is a major opportunity for any player to find a school at the next level. Beforehand, we recommend building out some of your best highlights and sharing those with coaches roughly a week before your showcase, as well as your game schedule and a bit about yourself via email. Then, focus on your performance and do what you can to catch their eye while staying true to your identity as a player. If there’s a chance to meet the coach in person, take full advantage of that. They will remember the confidence and willingness to have a conversation with them!
Once the showcase is over, follow up the next week. Update your highlights, share any important achievements over the weekend, and check in on their interest levels once they’ve arrived back on campus. If they don’t respond, don’t lose hope! Continue your pursuit and stay positive.
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