College Recruiting 101
By: Alexandria Hayman
Are you, your child, your teammates, or your players considering pursing collegiate soccer? I myself went through the college recruiting process to further my soccer career. Through my collective experiences, I came up with a few tips to make the process less stressful and to help guide you towards figuring out what college is right for you.
- First, BE PROACTIVE!
- Get out there! It doesn’t matter what age you are. Coaches are always watching and looking for the next best player. Exposure is the key to success, regardless if a coach can talk to you yet or not. The point is for you to get on their radar. Whenever you are of age to begin the recruiting process, you will have already been on the list of possible recruits. This can also result in more scholarship opportunities.
- Make sure you find out who you need to talk to and or see to get your name out there.
- Networking is very important in the recruiting process and in life. Know that your coaches, whether that be club, high school, or even trainers, may have the connections you need to help you further your career. Don’t be afraid to reach out for their help. Now, there are also recruiting services that advertise that they can help you get into any college you want. From personal experience, no one is going to advertise your name and skills more than a coach you personally know. Don’t waste your money on something you can do yourself.
- Understand the NCAA rules.
- Many divisions offer many opportunities, such as NAIA, JUCO, D3, D2, and D1. Some can offer scholarships more than the others, while some can talk to you sooner than others. Some can have you attend their practice, while others can’t. There are various rules and regulations for the scouting process and signing with a school. If you are uncertain of something or have any questions you can always contact the NCAA, find out information from their website, or even ask the coach directly. So know what division your school is, and READ UP!
- FILM, FILM, FILM
- A good highlight film is crucial. Some coaches might be in different states or do not have the time to come watch a match. Making sure you have UPDATED QUALITY film that showcases your strengths and skills is one of the most important things. A great app to get the perfect highlight stress free is, ‘AfterCam’! Make sure you attach your film and resume to every email you send to a school that interests you.
- Resumes are the key to showing coaches who you are on and off the pitch. This is the place for BRAGGING! Fill your resume with, GPA, grades, extracurricular activities, awards from school, volunteer hours, contact information, tournaments or showcases you’ve attended, upcoming soccer events, and medals of achievement you’ve gained in your soccer career. Above all, the best thing to obtain on a resume is RECOMMENDATIONS from past coaches or trainers, as well as their contact information. This piece of paper is sometimes all a coach gets to see. Like film, always attach your resume to any email you send to a school of interest.
- Be attentive but not obnoxious when it comes to communication with coaches.
- Understand they get hundreds of emails a day, so they might not see your email immediately. There is a difference between contacting and showing interest as opposed to being a little obnoxious and overbearing. If you contact a coach more than once a week you’re starting to overbear. The easiest way to contact a coach is through email and other coaches. Coaches may not be able to connect you directly, BUT they can contact your coach with their peaked interest.
- NEVER be scared to ask coaches questions!
- Once you’ve gained contact with a coach, whether that be in the recruiting process or after you’ve signed, NEVER be scared to ask them questions. “What are you looking for in a player?” “What can your program offer me?” “What kind of film do you want? (game/technical)” “Where do you fit into the program?” “How can I make sure I get playing time?” etc…
- Grades are a deal-breaker: Better grades = better scholarship opportunities.
- Many people forget that pure skill on the pitch won’t get them into college. Their grades do. The NCAA is very concerned about student-athletes, academics, and graduation rates. There is more pressure on coaches to make sure their student-athletes graduate from colleges. That means having good grades going into college as well as keeping those grades up once you get into college. Good grades means more athletic scholarships and more financial scholarships from the school. Who doesn’t want their college paid for?
- Division DOESN’T matter.
- Don’t get caught up in titles. Just because a school is D1 doesn’t mean it’s the best soccer or the best opportunity for you. Some D3 or D2 schools might be better soccer. Some NAIA or JUCO programs might offer you more scholarship money. Every school is different. You have to figure out what is most important to you: scholarship money, playing time, living situation, state, programs the school offers, etc. Once you figure out what you NEED from a school, determine where you want to look into.
- Prioritize in this order: SCHOOL, WELL BEING, SOCCER. Understand college is a two to four year period. It’s the beginning of your adulthood. For most people, school is their future, and soccer is their hobby. Go to a school that you can imagine being happy and successful without soccer in the picture. Understand that your freshman year might be tough. You might not get the playing time you were told. You might get homesick. You might get stressed out or even overworked from all the training. Make sure your well-being is always in check. If you are not happy, you’re not going to perform to the best of your abilities. Find schools that benefit you, then fit soccer into the equation.
The bottom line is that collegiate soccer is worth the stress of recruitment and finding a school if you know how to navigate the process. Figure out your needs and what school fits best for you. If you can be happy and successful without soccer in the picture, then you did your job right. Enjoy this time, investigate, and prepare yourself to make the right decision. Picking the right school will be one of the biggest and best decisions of your life.
Here are some great videos and tips.