Over the past decade, social media upended the way colleges recruit soccer players. Before the rise of social media, high school coaches were the gatekeepers for college coaches to learn about the top players. Now, high school athletes use their own social profiles to interact with colleges and build 1-to-1 relationships with coaches and staff members at their dream schools.
But for all the success stories of players getting recruited using social media, there are also horror stories of high school players posting inappropriate content that results in colleges rescinding offers. Here are some tips for using social media effectively for college soccer recruiting.
Choose Your Social Networks Carefully
Players should carefully consider where they want to devote their time. Instagram and Twitter are the most popular networks for college coaches, who use these platforms to market their programs and showcase what their athletes are doing. So we recommend setting up profiles on Facebook and Twitter at a minimum. A whopping 98% of US universities have Facebook pages, while 84% are active on Twitter.
Do you have the time and skills to edit videos and have a knack for social media? Many youth soccer players are going viral on newer social channels like TikTok, but these newer platforms are still somewhat foreign territory for recruiters, and fewer coaches are using these platforms to find players.
Build a Profile Dedicated to Your Soccer Skills, Not Your Social Life
High school soccer players should create a professional Instagram account specifically for college coaches. There are two primary reasons for creating social media profiles for college recruiting:
- To showcase your soccer skills.
- To prove to college coaches that you can be a positive role model and a team player.
College coaches do not want to see your vacation photos, your latest outfit, or your embarrassing moments. Put those on your “finsta,” and make those moments private. If a college coach searches your name, they should immediately find your dialed-in soccer account, not the account you use to impress your friends.
Best Practices for Building Your Social Profile
Trace Head Coach Tim Bennett spent 24 years at the Division I level as both a player and a coach. He advises players to take some simple steps to make sure coaches can discover their profiles and get the basic information they need:
- Match your display name or handle to your real name, or make it as close to your name as possible. This will make it easier for coaches to locate a player when searching. If possible, these should be identical between all social media platforms.
- Link to your Trace iD so that coaches can navigate to more moments and full game footage to make a full recruiting assessment, or link to a Youtube video of highlights if you have one.
- Include your graduation year, the high school or club you play for, your position, and your jersey number in the bio section of the profile.
- Pin a Tweet of one of your best moments to the top of your profile.
- Follow all the social media accounts of your top-choice schools so that coaches from those schools can see that you’re doing your homework on the school.
Top players around the US use their Trace iD to showcase video, stats, and their bios
Paint Yourself in the Best Light When Posting
Here are some more tips from Trace’s Tim Bennett for creating posts to present your personal characteristics in a way that will make a great first impression and show coaches that you’d be a model student-athlete and teammate:
- Show your gratitude towards your teammates, coaches, family, and friends.
- Avoid bragging or sounding narcissistic. Let your best moments speak for themselves.
- Show your support of teammates and other student-athletes. Give credit to teammates who help you to improve.
- Avoid posts about controversial topics including politics, race, religion or sexual orientation.
- Showcase your drive and ambition by posting about your training as well as your game highlights.
- Follow people who share your values. Coaches might check your followers to see who you view as a role model, so make sure you are following reputable accounts.
- Post your personal athletic achievements or celebrations of wins, but show sportsmanship when writing your captions.
- Keep it light-hearted and show your sense of humor. Show your personality.
Sample Social Media Profiles with Detailed Bio Sections
What Types of Content Should You Share
- Videos of training sessions. Make sure to caption videos explaining what you’re posting. For example, if you’re posting showing you 1v1 with a defender, you might write something about ball control, throwing the defender off balance, protecting the ball, or timing.
- Photos or videos showing you are attending events and showcases. Coaches want to see that you’re attending the most competitive events available to you, so players attending a competitive ECNL or National League events might document the scene at these events.
- Videos of your home workouts. Prove to college coaches that you’re putting in work on and off the pitch. Maybe this means a video of you practicing your footwork with a ball and wall. It might be basic, but it shows you are committed to the game.
- Year in review videos or slideshows. Compiling videos of your best moments from the past year can be helpful in resurfacing your best moments, the ones that you might want to feature on highlight videos.
- Trick shots. Since you won’t be showing how you can kick a ball into a basketball goal on your official highlight reel, social media is a good place to highlight the cool things you can do and show off a little bit.
- Strength training. Show coaches that you are researching ways to improve your technique and make yourself a better player through exercises and drills.
- Team photos. Coaches are looking for team players. It might seem cheesy, but showing team photos after big games or after long tournaments is a good opportunity to prove that you are grateful for the experience and do not take your teammates for granted.
Be Consistent in Sharing Your Best Moments
This might seem obvious, but many players miss opportunities to keep their social feeds updated. Consistency is critical when building a social media following, and consistency is also critical when showing coaches how you’re developing as a player.
For Trace users, downloading moments is free and easy. Players can share or download moments to post on social media in one easy click. (Pro tip: Tag Trace and use the hashtag #TraceMoments so we can see your video and repost it.)
Use Social Media to Message Coaches If Email Fails
If you’re having trouble getting in touch with college coaches via email, it can be a good idea to shoot them a message through social media.
If you send them a message, make sure you give them context and keep it professional. Include information about yourself, such as your position, high school, and soccer club affiliation. You should also include a URL link to your Trace iD or your online video profile.
Keep Your Trace iD or Highlight Video Up to Date
The most successful players know that coaches want continuous updates. Coaches need to see that you’re developing as a player and that you are competing at the highest levels available to you. This is why it’s critical to update your video footage on an ongoing basis.
For players using Trace and adding moments to their Trace iD, this means taking time after your games to look through your moments and add each new moment to your Trace iD. If a coach spots you on social media and wants to see more, the coach can simply click the same URL every time to see your best highlights.
For players using Youtube or other methods to share highlights, editing and adding clips on a regular basis is more difficult. Some players might take time once a month to edit their highlight video and post a new iteration on Youtube.