What you need to know to ease the stress and help your player make the right choice.
While the recruiting process can be hard for a student-athlete, it can be even more difficult for parents. It’s only natural to want what’s best for your child. But the actions of some parents can make things even more stressful. So, to avoid that, take a few minutes to read through a few ways you can help your soccer player make the best decision for them while reducing their stress, and yours too.
• Be Honest With Your Child And Yourself
Having a realistic view of your child’s athletic and academic potential is perhaps the most important step in dealing with the soccer recruiting process. If you’re not honest with your son or daughter about their talent level and or academic skills, you’re setting them up for failure and disappointment.
The best thing to do is to honestly assess your child’s soccer and academic abilities. Then you can target schools that match both. Don’t waste time or expectations on schools where your child may not be able to compete on the field or in the classroom. With more than 1,700 colleges and junior colleges sponsoring soccer teams, finding the best matches athletically and academically will take some work early on, but the payoff will be a better fit for your player in the end. Finally, remember that even with all those schools, soccer scholarships are still a rare commodity, so encourage your child to keep their grades up so that they might also be eligible for academic or merit scholarships.
• Do Your Research
Once you figure out the schools that may best suit your child, dig deeper. Help your son or daughter find the schools that match academically with their desired area of study. In addition to academics, look at the coach, the team, the program, and what your child wants from a college experience. The more your child knows about what they want from a school beyond soccer will make things much easier.
Look at each team’s roster to see how your player measures up. If most of the team is 5’8” or taller and your child is only 5’3” then that team’s coach may not be interested based solely on height. In addition, take the time to watch the team play – in-person or via Livestream – to see if their style matches your athlete’s. For instance, if your child has solid possession skills, then you may want to avoid teams that focus on a punt-and-chase style.
• It’s Up To Your Player To Reach Out
To ensure your son or daughter lands on a soccer coach’s radar, they need to reach out and introduce themselves via phone call or email. Note that they need to contact the coach, not you. Start by having them email the coach (or coaches) at the schools on their list. That first contact should simply be introductory in nature. It should include name, age, physical dimensions, their experience and background, why they want to attend that school, and links to their recruiting profile. Make sure each email is unique and tailored to that coach and school. Avoid impersonal mass, fill-in-the-blank emails.
Then encourage your child to follow up once a month with updates to their stats or highlight video. They can even copy their high school or club coach on each email. This will ensure their coach knows about the schools they’re interested in and possibly follow up to put in a good word on their abilities. Remember to be aware of NCAA recruiting regulations and calendars that govern when and how often a coach can contact your athlete.
• Visiting Colleges
For college soccer coaches who lack a big recruiting budget, showcases are an ideal way to see and evaluate lots of players in one place. The risk for players is that the coach for whom they want to play doesn’t show up or misses his or her time on the field. In addition, if the coach does see them play, an off day or limited playing time can leave a less-than-favorable impression.
Instead, try to get your player to ID clinics where they can show off their skills for four to six hours in front of the coaches from the schools where they want to play. Choose a variety of camps that align with your player’s talent level and preferred college list. That is one or two that would be considered a reach, two or three where your player would easily make the team, and three to five that align with your player’s athletic abilities. Start early and remember that it’s OK to make repeat camp visits, as it allows coaches to monitor a player’s physical and athletic growth.
• Learn To Understand Rejection
To quote from the movie The Godfather, “It’s business, not personal”. Unless they’re an elite talent, he or she will likely hear “no” far more often than they hear “yes”. Regardless of their soccer skills, grades, or relationships with college coaches. Prepare them (and yourself) for rejection early in the recruiting process. It’s personal for you, but for college coaches, it’s a business. Make sure your child understands that and remind them to try to keep emotion out of the equation, no matter how much they love a school.
To limit the uncertainty, encourage your child to ask each coach at the schools they’re pursuing to set up a time for an honest assessment of where he or she might fit with that program. Be aware that they may not like the answers they hear and their egos and aspirations may take a hit. Remind them that, just as they’re looking for a school that fits them best, each coach has to bring in the players that provide the best fit for their team.
Finally, remember that every player is different, every school is different, and every family’s recruiting experience will be unique. Don’t compare your child’s experience to that of another player. If the ultimate goal is a college education for your child, keep that as your main focus and consider soccer recruiting opportunities as an extra bonus. Control what you can control, don’t stress over what you can’t, and try not to worry (too much). It may take time for your child to find the college that fits them best. But until then, help wherever you can. Relax, and take the time to appreciate your child being rewarded for all his or her hard work.
Did you enjoy the article ‘A Parents’ Guide To Soccer Recruiting’? If so, then check out ‘Red Flags for Over-invested Sports Parents’ or check out more articles HERE.