College Recruiting

Three Youth Development Tracks to Prepare For College Recruitment

Finding the right youth development soccer program will improve skills and increase chances of college recruitment.

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.

If you’ve been in soccer for a while, you don’t need to be told for the hundredth time that college soccer recruitment is extremely competitive. You instead need to know how to hunker down and show those college recruiters that you have what it takes to make it on their team.

Finding the right youth development soccer program can infinitely increase your chances of being seen by college soccer coaches and significantly improve your skills. 

Fortunately, there are a few routes you can take to prepare for college recruitment that will keep you playing. It’s not all paperwork and reel making! You want to be able to hone your skills while you show them off to scouts.

Find a Club With an Elite Player Pathway

Don’t be fooled by the word “elite.” This isn’t a reflection of social or financial status. Rather, a club with an elite player pathway simply means that you are enrolled in a club that can help you play in a league suited to higher-level soccer skills.

You want this league to bring out your best. Playing in high-stakes competitions will also look good to college recruitment officers who want to see that you are up for a challenge, and can rise to it. 

These clubs should participate in elite national competitive platforms, like the ECNL: Elite Club National League. This league is specifically designed to elevate the experience for both male and female youth soccer players. NPL: National Premier Leagues is another great option to look into. Both can ultimately lead you to a U.S. National Team. 

Development and ID Camps

ID and development camps are highly suggested. They are some of the best ways to increase your chances of college recruitment. These ID camps are open to all young soccer players who show an incredible talent for the game and are teeming with scouts. You can search for camps in your region here

If you are invited to attend an id2 National Identification and Development Camp, consider it a huge compliment. This camp ultimately scouts for players for the U.S. Soccer National Teams. Top players are selected in each camp cycle from a national recommendation and scouting process.

US Club Soccer Development Programs fall under the id2 camp umbrella but are regional as opposed to national. Player Development Programs (PDP) scout elite clubs, like ECNL or NPL, to find players who would be best suited to these programs. Scouts for id2 camps keep a close eye on PDP players.

Find a Coach With a History of Player Development and College Placement

Playing soccer is an education of the body and mind. Shouldn’t you want to find the right teacher? Find a coach who can teach and guide you to where you need to go. Use those good research skills. Find a coach that has a history of developing and placing soccer players in the colleges they want to attend.

Read testimonials, ask them personally if they deal with college recruitment directors; find out their style of coaching. Reach out to them and send them your game video reel. Follow up and set up 1-on-1 training sessions or request to play on their team.

You can also sign up for soccer academies that employ experienced development coaches. CBW Soccer Elite is a soccer recruitment service and training academy meant to help you stand out during college recruitment and ID camps. All players are coached by retired English Premier League player Chris Bart-Williams. 

Stay Confident

The important thing to do is to stay diligent and open-minded. Don’t just attend an ID Camp, work with a coach, as well. Remaining within an elite club won’t necessarily get you seen — spread yourself, just not too thin. And remember, if you don’t make it into one ID Camp, you still have many others from which you can choose.

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