By Bobby Puppione
Girls Academy Director and College Recruiting Director // TSJ FC Virginia
As a coach, it is important that you are a good resource and supporting member of your players’ “team,” so they can lean on you for help. The college soccer recruiting process for student athletes should be driven by the players, however, these student athletes do need your support in the process.
In this blog, I will talk about some of the ways coaches can best support their players in the college recruiting process. There are more ways than listed below, but these are some key areas for coaches.
Educate the Players and Families
The college recruiting process can look like an uphill battle for players and their families. It is important that you inspire your players and keep them motivated to continue their journey in this process where they can get recruited for soccer. First off, educate them about the process. Give them the tools (video, emails, research, talking points, etc.) they will need to be successful. And remind them that it is a journey, not a sprint race. Everyone’s process is different – so be there for them individually, and for their family, and help give them what they need.
Build Relationships with College Coaches
Depending on the grade and playing level, coaches need to be an advocate for their players by communicating with college coaches. It is important for the coach to connect the player with the school. This can be done through phone calls, emails, and in-person communication as well. Developing honest and professional relationships with college coaches will also increase your network, allowing you to be an even greater resource for your players.
Do Not Oversell
Communicate with college coaches and talk up your players; however, do NOT oversell. Don’t be a used car salesperson. It is important that you are honest with college coaches about players. Otherwise, you will lose credibility not only from that college coach, but other coaches with whom they communicate. Speak positively, confidently, and honestly about your players. Overselling only leads to future issues – for the player, for you, and for your future players.
Share Video, Schedules, and Player Updates
Another good way for coaches to support their players is to use video. First, you can share video with college coaches, including clips, highlights, and full matches. Coaches can also show their players how to make highlights and film on their own. This not only helps them to become a better player by watching their own play, but it also gives them the ability to send footage to college coaches.
In addition, sharing schedules with college coaches is another important part of the process. This includes training, league matches, friendlies, and showcase tournaments. Let college coaches know where prospective players will be so they can get it on their calendar to attend.
You can also aid the players by sharing updates with college coaches about them. This will help keep your player fresh on the mind of the coaches, and show them the progress the player is making in their development.
Support Your Players
The college recruiting process has its ups and downs. There will be times when players may be totally dejected and want to give up. Plain and simple, be there for them. Be a sounding board. Let them know you care and will help them through any tough times. Keep them positive and motivated.
Prepare Players for College Soccer
College soccer is not easy. And even after players commit to college, your job as a coach is not done. Meet with the player and their future school so you can get further insight on how you can best prepare the player for when they step foot on campus for pre-season. Motivate and guide them so they can be as ready as possible. When you are actively involved, you will gain more credibility from that school for future players going through the college recruiting process because you prepared the player properly for that next level.
Keep Players Focused Academically
Remember, your players are student-athletes. “Student” comes first. If they don’t make the grade, they won’t be able to play. No pass, no play. Check in on your players academically and make sure their grades are good, and that they aren’t slipping.
These are just some of the ways coaches can support their players in the college soccer recruiting process. Feel free to ask questions and share feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org. Have blog topic suggestions? Please let us know.