Read the other posts in this college soccer recruiting series on Defensive Center Midfielders, Goalkeepers, Center Backs, Outside Backs, Strikers, Wingers, and Attacking Center Midfielders.
“The #9… the one that makes all the money,” jokes former D1 Coach Michael Needham. Strikers, or forwards, are the goal scorers. They get all of the attention. They are the Lionel Messi’s of their high school or club soccer team.
The first job of a #9 is to score goals, so this college highlight reel should have your playlist packed with goals that you’ve scored. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s with your foot, your head, your thigh, or your back or if you’re scoring while you’re sliding on the ground or if you’re in the air,” stated Needham, half-jokingly. “You need college to see the ball go off of your body and into the goal.”
Key things to include when sending your striker highlight video to college coaches:
- Show you can hold the ball up and that you are physically strong. If you get on a half-turn, can you hold the player off when their main job is to separate you from the ball?
- Show your speed. Can you stay on the ball and allow the rest of your team to come into the game? Strikers have to be the quickest on the field, so speed is very important for this position. This does not just mean the ability to run fast; this is also explosive speed (how fast you get to max speed), feet speed (quick movements while executing plays), and mental speed (quickly perceiving the situation and then making smart decisions).
- Show strong movements off the ball. How are you always looking to challenge the opposition’s back four? If you are not challenging the back four, you are not helping your team. You are letting the other team do what they want defensively. So are you showing enough of your runs that are challenging the other team’s back four?
- Show smart positioning. It’s critical to have an awareness of space when you’re a striker. How are you weaving between defenders? When you win the ball in transition, how fast do you look to run behind the other team? Can you get between the two center backs and start causing problems and ultimately score goals in the counter-attack?
- Display bravery. Strikers by nature have to be brave. You have to be a little bit confident if you’re in the position where you MUST score for your team. In highlight videos, show yourself doing something wacky, like putting yourself in a place you’re not supposed to be or getting in between two players and winning a ball to get a shot off. Show that you have the confidence to get into risky situations and win the ball.
- Score at all costs. Think like Gary Lineker. Back in the 80s, Lineker scored a ton of goals okay just by being in the right spot and sliding and nipping the ball with his toe. Those are some of the best goals we’ve ever seen. So but you’ve got to be brave to do that, and you’ve got to be willing to put yourself out on a limb.
- Show your dribbling skills. Be able to dribble the ball and be able to get some other players involved because you can’t score without service. Make sure that you get other people involved and then get yourself into the box to score.
Watch a Sample Striker Highlight
What the Trace moment above shows college coaches: Right away from the kickoff, this #9 is already thinking about scoring goals, so she connects a couple passes. She sees the center back get into a bad shape. She’s right in between the center back. She makes sure she stays outside. She’s in with the goalkeeper, and she puts the ball exactly where it needs to be. She’s in on the near post, so every coaching book in the country would tell you that needs to go in the upper right corner there, and that’s exactly where she went.
What we see here is a willingness to go behind, and she’s only thinking about one thing. She’s not thinking about passing here. Did she have someone maybe she could have found across the goal? Yeah, but it’s off the kickoff and it’s the first five minutes of the game; there’s no coach in the country that doesn’t want their #9 shooting that. That’s awesome mentality off the kickoff. That’s a great moment to show to a college coach to show, “Hey, I came to play and to score goals.”