Recruiting mistakes can mean the red card for your scholarship hopes.
If you’re like most student-athletes, the soccer recruiting process is a new experience. And just like any experience, it’s natural to make mistakes along the way. But, in recruiting, mistakes are like yellow cards. That is to say, one is excusable, but a second one might get you a recruiting red card and eliminate you from consideration for a scholarship at a given school. So to keep yourself in the game with every school during your recruiting, make sure you avoid these recruiting mistakes:
• Don’t Set Your Mind On One School Without Doing Your Research
It’s completely fine to have a dream school that you have your heart set on attending and competing for. But, to keep your dream school experience from turning into a nightmare, it’s hugely important that you research the school before you make any commitment. First, figure out if the coach is interested in you as a scholarship athlete or a walk-on and, if so, see if you click with that coach and his or her style. Then look at the team roster and see if spots will be available at your position.
Academically, make sure the school offers the area of study you want to major in as well as secondary courses of study should you want to change your major. Take a campus visit to get a feel for the school, the housing, the social life, and the athletic facilities. Don’t choose a school based on what someone else recommends. Find the school that’s the right fit for you. And to do that, consider all your research, then ask yourself, “Would I want to attend this school if I don’t make the soccer team?”
• Don’t Be Shy
If you’re not on a coach’s radar, it’s up to you to reach out and contact them. Remember that college soccer coaches recruit from both clubs and high schools, so their recruiting time is limited. That means you need to put yourself in front of them because odds are they won’t have time to come looking for you.
Make the first move and contact a coach via phone call or email. For an email, make it a simple introduction with a brief bio of you, your height and weight, your athletic experience, and share a little bit about why you want to play for that school. Be sure to share links to your recruiting profile and your highlight video. Then, follow up a couple of times a month to build a relationship with that coach. Repeat with coaches at other schools you’re interested in.
• Don’t Be Overzealous
Just as you don’t want to be too shy, neither do you want to be too overzealous in contacting coaches. There’s a fine line between expressing your interest and becoming an annoyance. Don’t cross that line.
Remember that college soccer coaches are considering hundreds of recruits and that, on top of recruiting, they still have to manage the team they have. Further, the NCAA limits coaches to one contact per recruit per week, and no amount of calls or emails from you will change that. It’s natural to want to keep your foot in the door, but you’re better off relaxing and allowing the time for a relationship to develop with a coach. Be enthusiastic but not overbearing. Remember that email is usually the best route for contacting coaches. Two to three contacts a month is fine, but anything beyond once a week is getting pushy.
• Don’t Send Impersonal Email Blasts
Recruiting is a two-way street. If you want coaches to notice you, you need to put in the effort to get noticed. Therefore, take the time to personalize every email you send to coaches. Mention why you want to attend that school and highlight what you can bring to their program. A personalized email or letter will show you’re making an effort. A form letter or email will clearly show you’re not.
• Don’t Overproduce Your Highlight Video
To show a coach what you can do, your highlight video should show what you’ve done recently. It doesn’t need to be a career retrospective that highlights every goal of your life. Keep it brief, keep it updated, and keep it focused on demonstrating your skills on the pitch. Take the time to edit it into one video that you can post on Youtube, so you can embed it on your recruiting profile and have one easy link to send to coaches. If necessary, ask your coach to help you assemble what they consider your best moments.
Improving as a soccer player is about learning to eliminate mistakes. And, by avoiding these five recruiting mistakes, you can make yourself a more recruitable player too.
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