College Recruiting

Top 5 Things College Coaches Want to See in Soccer Highlight Videos

Here are some key items that coaches consider important in soccer highlight videos.

by Tim Bennett

A veteran of the college and youth soccer ranks. 24 years at the Division I level as a player, assistant coach, associate head coach, and Head Coach in such conferences as the Big 12, SEC, PAC 12 and the Big East. Served as an ECNL staff coach, US Soccer Development Academy Director and an Executive Director at the club level.

Video is a key part of the recruiting process. There are countless strategies for creating effective video to get recruited, which we’ve written about here and here. But what’s important for college recruiters when it comes to soccer highlights? 

College coaches might receive hundreds or even thousands of hours of video during a recruiting season, and they’re likely to receive even more in the current recruiting landscape in which traveling to games is difficult or impossible. These coaches understand that youth soccer players do not typically have access a dedicated film crew to get the perfect angle and an editing team to condense the footage into digestible moments.

Video quality is typically the lowest on lists of top concerns that college coaches have related to highlight videos. But parents and players often stress over finding video with the perfect resolution or that captures the perfect angle, while not focusing enough on the factors that truly matter to colleges coaches.

Spotlighting is critical for coaches to know exactly who they should be paying attention to. Learn more about Trace’s spotlight feature.

Based on our conversations with hundreds of college recruiters, we put together a list of what they want to see, in order of importance, when it comes to receiving soccer game video from players: 

  1. Coaches want context. They expect all highlight videos to show amazing execution, but the best videos also show how players react and communicate during gameplay. When it comes to a highlight reel, this means keeping as many players in frame as possible, in order to identify the spatial awareness and tactical decisions of a potential recruit. This can be at odds with parents’ or players’ standard idea of highlight reels they see in major league sports entertainment, where tight zoom puts a greater focus on individuals for entertainment value.
  2. Coaches want to see the lead-up to the moment. In standard highlight reels, it’s important for players to show 3 seconds before and after the “moment” so the coach can see the entire move. If you’re using a Trace iD, coaches can view a player’s highlights and can easily navigate to the full game video or other moments from the player.
  3. Coaches want a spotlight on the player. Even with the highest quality game footage, it can be difficult for coaches to find the player they are evaluating. We created the spotlight feature for Trace users to make this process seamless for coaches. Coaches want to see a variety of skills. One of the biggest mistakes that players can make is sending a highlight reel that does not showcase the player’s full skill set. Using Trace iD, players can create tags that showcase their best skills. For example, a player might have tags for position, tackle, physicality, defensive transition, goals, or other key aspects of the game based on their unique position.
  4. Coaches want to see players develop over time. If you send a standard highlight video to a highly competitive school, you have one shot to get the video right. Unless you are truly exceptional, a coach unlikely to get into a back and forth over email to request new highlights to see additional aspects of your playing style. If you send a Trace iD, a coach can get the player’s complete profile (along with useful statistics), and players can add new highlights to the Trace iD after communicating with a college coach, increasing the chances that their top moments will be seen and evaluated.
  5. Coaches believe in “content over quality.” Video quality matters to a certain extent, but parents and players often stress too much about finding the perfect clip based on the highest resolution. It’s natural to want recruiters to see zoomed-in, high-res shots of players, but, in practice, college recruiters care very little about whether a video is a bit grainy or does not capture the player from the perfect angle. In some cases, players cut out their strongest moments from their highlights because they perceive the film as too grainy, opting to show less exceptional moves that do nothing for their chances of getting recruited. College recruiting is not Instagram, and you’re not going to receive any points for a more visually appealing video.

Overall, college coaches are not watching youth soccer videos for entertainment; they need to see a player’s best moments to evaluate a very specific set of criteria to determine whether a player’s strengths match up with their teams’ needs.

It’s virtually impossible for players to know which components of a player’s profile are weighted more heavily in the eyes of coaches, so the more context and skills you can show (i.e. the more video you can provide), the better positioned you are to make a strong impression.  

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