Youth soccer players around the country use Trace iDs for college recruiting, so our team is on the front lines of the recruiting process.
We see what works, and what does not work, when it comes to initiating contact with college coaches, sending coaches game video and highlights, and negotiating scholarships.
Here are some bite-sized tips for excelling in the recruiting process. We’ll be updating this page every week with new tips and sending out advice on our social channels (follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!).
- Play at the highest level, especially when you hit sophomore year in high school. This could mean varsity teams for some players, club soccer for others, or it could mean joining an academy team. Coaches want to see that you’re pushing yourself to compete at the highest level in your city or region. In addition, playing with the best in your area will improve your own skills. College coaches evaluate players at tournaments, showcases, ID camps, and clinics, so it’s important to create a strategy incorporating these events when possible.
- Do not waste time during your senior year when going through recruiting. The longer you go into the recruiting season or the longer you attempt to negotiate with schools, the less scholarship money will available, and the higher the risk that schools move on to other recruits to fill your spot. Coaches spend money quickly and early in the recruiting process so they don’t lose players to other schools. Sometimes, players transfer out & money becomes available, but this is not a certainty. Making schools wait while you negotiate with other programs or waiting for your dream school to respond can be very risky.
- Be open-minded about prospective schools. Sometimes, potential recruits focus so hard on the most elite schools that they ignore the other 1300 possible “right fits.” The more open-minded a player is to all the possibilities, the better chance they will find the right fit and be happy. Here’s an example of what not to say to a coach: “This is _________. She is an ECNL goalkeeper, a 4.0 student, and wishes to go to Stanford, Arizona, Washington or UCLA”Be strategic about what you’re conveying in highlights.
- Don’t neglect your academic work. There are countless examples of stellar athletes who have the athletic ability to play at the best Division I schools, but they do not have the grades to make the cut. In your earliest years in high school, you should get familiar with the Division I academic eligibility requirements so you have time to prepare, you take the right courses, and you’re not blindsided in your junior and senior year of high school.
How to Create Great Soccer Highlight Videos
- Start your highlight video by featuring your best moments first. Players should aim to capture the attention of a college coach within the first 30 seconds of the highlight video to ensure that they stay for the full video to see your full breadth of skills. Most people form an impression within the first 7 seconds of meeting another person, and this applies to coaches watching soccer highlights. Make a strong impression from the beginning.
- Do NOT use slow motion when sharing highlights. This is a “no duh” piece of advice, so why do so many players do it? Slow-motion makes you look slower. It makes the play look easier. It allows coaches to tear apart every movement frame by fame. Players, stop with the SLO-MO and the SLO-MO instant replays.
- Pay attention to what you are telling coaches about your mentality and tactical understanding when sharing your game video. For example, if 60% of a midfielder’s passes are negative or square, coaches will have questions about whether that player is creative and can create opportunities on the field.
How to Communicate with College Coaches
- Initiate communication with college coaches, and don’t give up if they don’t respond to your first message. Think of yourself as a salesman. You’re product: your soccer skills. The buyer: a college coach who needs these skills. The goal: make the coach aware of your skills. You want to pitch your skills and make sure coaches remember who you are and why you’re awesome. If a coach doesn’t respond to an email, find their social media handle, add them on LinkedIn, email other coaches or assistants at that college to get on their radar. The more they hear your name, the more likely they’ll take the time to watch your highlights.
- Show coaches that you care when emailing them. Avoid generic messages that look like you are sending a mass email to every NCAA coach. A considerable percentage of emails coaches get are spammy in nature. “Dear Coach, I would love to attend your school and play soccer for you. Blah, blah, blah…” The most basic email mistakes players make include no video or bad video, no transcripts, and no specifics showcasing your knowledge of the school or program. To stand out from the crowd, you have to be different from everyone else.
- Respond quickly to coaches. Try to make a habit of responding to coaches contacting you ASAP. A lot of players don’t check email regularly and wait a day or two or more. One way to stand out is to answer them fast! College coaches are always pleasantly surprised when players respond immediately.
- Show your personality in interviews with coaches. When interviewing with college coaches, players need to be the ones doing the talking and asking questions. Most coaches will be nice and accommodate parents, but they really prefer to hear from the player to get to know them better and get a sense of how the player thinks.
- Be memorable from the start. What’s one way to be sure a person never forgets you? Walk up and punch them in the nose! Take that concept and use it in your highlight video. Open with clips that make you unforgettable by metaphorically punching coaches in the nose with clips that WOW them!