College soccer recruiting is changing. When I was going through the recruiting process, things were relatively straight-forward. Recruiting rules were consistent, academic requirements were less stringent, and there were only three ways to communicate with a college soccer coach - in person, on the phone, or by email. When you played for a big club, coaches came to you. A simple email ahead of time would practically ensure at least a few college soccer coaches would attend. But the times have changed...
With the explosion of college soccer, coaches now have more kids to choose from than ever before. Coaches receive hundreds (if not thousands) of emails weekly. Each email looks like a basic form - the equivalent of today's "Spam" email sent to everyone and anyone. These emails are promptly deleted, because they aren't personal or relevant. Coaches today can choose anyone so they're pickier and harder to contact. Because of the huge amount of prospective soccer players, they begin to build their recruiting lists in a player's freshman and sophomore season!
But don't lose hope. You don't need some expensive recruiting program or service to be a top recruit. Those services can't help you, because they aren't tailored specifically to your needs and unique capabilities. Most recruiting services fail because college soccer coaches recognize them as generic solutions meant for baseball, football, and basketball - which all have scouts and a wide network of personnel to aid in recruiting.
8 Steps to being a Top College Soccer Recruit
The key to college soccer recruiting is to become more relevant, personal, focused, and responsible.
1. What Makes You Remark-able? Develop a Personal Brand
Brand Identity - What do You Stand For?
Positioning - How do You Stand Out?
Soft Assets - What are Your Intangible Qualities?
Presentation - What are People's Perception of You?
Reputation Management - Your Own Personal P.R.
2. Develop a Clear Strategy - What Schools will You Target, and Why?
The key to finding potential schools is by segmenting. This simply means dividing the schools into groups based on common characteristics. You should be dividing the schools athletically - by caliber of play, type of play (in relation to your style), and need (how many current players play your position). You should also divide the schools academically - be geography, size of school, and academic admission standards (average GPA and SAT/ACT results).
3. Time to Get Personal - Be More Relevant and Personal
Being more relevant and personal is becoming a huge factor in college soccer recruiting. Gone are the days when you could spam 100 colleges with your tournament schedule. Coaches want to know why you want to go to their school, why you think you'll fit in with their soccer team, style of play, and school's culture.
4. Make it Easy to Find You - Create Information Hubs
By creating information hubs on the internet, you make it incredibly easy for a college soccer coach to find information about you. Search engines recognize that the more information about a topic (in this case - You), the more credible and reliable the sources are; thus a higher search engine ranking. So where should you start?
• Create Player Profiles
• Personal Websites
• Team Options
5. Create a Dialogue - Develop ongoing communication channels with coaches.
It's important to establish an on-going communication channel with a coach, and regularly update them on your progress and latest updates. Remember not to be too pushy! Usually, you can see how often a coach will want to be contacted, or how they like to communicate (email, text, phone) and you can act accordingly.
6. Leverage Your Social Proof - Provide References and Testimonials
Social proof is a psychological incident that is validated by references and testimonials. Social proof underlies our need to seek peer evaluations and what makes us seem more or less knowledge about something. You should be getting references and testimonials from your club coaches, high school coaches, and even teachers or administration. This will give college soccer coaches more confidence in you, and make you more desirable
7. Find the Tippers - Expand your Network
Expanding your network will help you get in contact with influential people and groups that will provide opportunities to shine.
• Gatekeepers - These are the people you need to woo in order to gain access. These include assistant coaches who are responsible for recruiting, and admissions personnel who screen you as an applicant for the school.
• Sneezers - These are the people who give you access to their influence and large network of people. This is a term I'm borrowing from Seth Godin's Ideavirus. Sneezers are usually influential club coaches who have credibility and lots of personal relationships with college soccer coaches.
• Mastermind Groups - These are important groups that again provide access to college coaches. These can be ODP (Olympic Development Program), exclusive tournaments such as Nike Invitationals, or any special/invite-only programs.
8. The "Other" Aspect of Recruiting - Shore up your Academic Ability
Ability in the classroom may not get you recruited to play college soccer, but it will prevent you from playing and getting recruited. While in the past college athletes could slide by with getting bad grades, the increasing competitiveness of college is changing that. More people are trying to go to college than ever before, so college athletes are expected to also be able to compete academically as well.
This article was an excerpt from College Soccer Recruiting 101. Your Guide to Becoming a Top Rec
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