College Soccer Recruiting: Do You Have to Pay for a Recruiting Service?

College Soccer Recruiting: Do You Have to Pay for a Recruiting Service?

The college soccer recruiting process is daunting, confusing, and overwhelming at times, yet extremely rewarding.

For these young athletes, college is going to be daunting, confusing, and overwhelming at times, yet extremely rewarding.

After college graduation, their adult lives and careers are going to be (you guessed it) daunting, confusing, and overwhelming at times, yet extremely rewarding.

Although the ultimate achievement of a college soccer scholarship is a wonderful reward all on its own, the recruiting process itself provides benefits to the athlete that extend well beyond the soccer field. This recruiting journey is a challenge that will prepare each player for college and adult life in ways that non-athletes don’t experience. Parents and families have the amazing opportunity to help guide their children through this process, before they head off to college on their own.

The first question that faces most of these families is, “Do we need to sign up for one of those recruiting services?” Some competitive soccer clubs promote a DIY approach to recruiting, encouraging families to choose recruiting tools and services that appeal to their needs and budgets. Other soccer clubs will provide club-wide access to recruiting services and college search tools, paid for as part of the players’ registration fees. Is one better than the other? Of course not. Each family needs to decide how they want to approach their own recruiting journey.

NCAA WOMENS SOCCER:  NOV 09 2014 South Atlantic Women's Soccer Championships - Wingate vs Lenoir-RhyneAn important distinction to keep in mind is that there is a difference between “Recruiting services” and “College athletic search tools.” Many companies combine both, but a “Recruiting service” specifically tells families that they can put athletes on the radar of college coaches  because thousands of coaches routinely come to them to find players via the company’s database of athletes.

While collegiate coaches may visit a recruiting service’s website from time to time, there are three undeniable truths:

  1. These coaches want to communicate directly with a recruit — not with a recruiting service.
  2. It is not hard to get onto a coach’s radar even if you’re not paying a recruiting service.
  3. If a coach is interested in you, he/she will find a way to contact you, even if you’re not in a company’s database of recruits.

The bottom line is this: If you decide to sign up with a recruiting service, use the college search tools to find college programs that you like and that could possibly be good fits for you, but do not assume that the recruiting service is going to get you in touch with coaches or provide some sort of access you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

How do you decide if a specific college soccer program is a good fit for you? That will be the topic of our next article! Before that, let’s look at bit more at these “Recruiting Services” and college searching tools.

There are many college search tools, and they are just that — TOOLS that need to be used.

Here are a few FREE search tools you can use to find colleges that fit your preferences for everything but athletics:

college_board_logoThe College Board has a great free search tool HERE.

cs_logo_baseboardCollegeData.com has another search tool you might like HERE.

niche-logo-fullNiche.com is a fun tool to see lot of “insider” info about a school’s on-campus culture.

UnknownHigh school guidance counselors may also provide access to other great college search tools like Naviance.

There are also PAID college recruiting/matching services that you can consider. Many have free options, but they’ll always try to entice you into paying for a membership with more services and features.

These companies will add ATHLETIC matching along with academic matching tools. They will also offer academic and athletic guidance throughout high school.  Within NCAA regulations, the recruiting services will also cultivate connections to college coaches, claiming that once you are in their database of athletes college coaches can find you.

Here are a few:

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You might be asking yourself: “Do I need to pay for one of those recruiting/matching services?” 

As you would expect, the answer isn’t the same for every family.

The truth that the paid services don’t loudly advertise is that ALL OF THE INFORMATION they provide is out there for you (for free!), if you know where to look (it’s not that hard) and you have the time.

Also, even though paid services advertise that they can get you in touch with college coaches, remember that college coaches like to hear DIRECTLY from the athlete.

(Free advice: When a tournament is using one of those paid services, sign up for the basic and FREE profile so that your information is sure to be in the database & programs that coaches get from the tournament. You won’t miss out on a secret back door to a college scholarship if you don’t pay for more.)

Many families decide that it’s worth the cost to have a service that saves time, provides guidance, and organizes the search process.

If you sign up for a paid service, USE IT! Take full advantage of the tools provided, but don’t assume that the service will do all of the work for you.

todolist“What if we don’t sign up for one of those paid recruiting services? Will this process be too overwhelming to do on our own?”

The answer is NO! You can do it, you just have to put in the effort. You will have four main tasks:

1: Figure out which schools are a good fit for you — academically, athletically, financially, and socially.

2: Stay on track with your college eligibility. Take the classes and  standardized tests that you’ll need to qualify for college admission.

3: Communicate with college coaches. Email them. Call them. Get an awesome highlight video online so a coach will see it and know that you are a player he/she needs to see in person. Visit schools. Go to camps.

4: Organize your search. Keep an old-school notebook organized with sections for each school you are considering. Take notes when you contact a coach or visit the campus. Write down why you like that school. You can create this “notebook” in a spreadsheet or a document on your computer if you like. Either way, figure out a simple organization method where you can keep notes for schools that appeal to you. The list will be huge when you first start looking at colleges. As you progress in your recruiting journey, the list will get shorter as you narrow down your choices.

That’s a lot to do. Will a paid service do all of that for you? NO! Will a paid service help? YES, but you’ll still have to put in the time to organize your search, narrow down your choices, and contact coaches.

In the long run, when your recruiting journey comes to an end, you’ll feel ownership of the process. You will also have organized a huge project. You will have learned how to communicate with coaches and how to market yourself. Everything you do in your recruiting journey will be building skills that will help you succeed in college, and that’s awesome.

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