College soccer season is kicking off this week with NCAA, JuCo, and NAIA teams wrapping up their exhibition matches and beginning the “games that matter.” At the same time, the USSDA season kicks off. Competitive non-DA teams will also be finishing up their summer tournament circuit and prepping for the beginning of their league season.
A college coach’s priority will be the team, but recruiting never stops.
Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts for PSAs (prospective student athletes) during college soccer season:
DO get game video. Have a parent film your games, preferably from a high vantage point and avoiding background noise (or just take out the sound later). If your team can share the cost, hiring a professional videographer is a good investment. Check out It’s a Wrap if you’re in California. Their rates are reasonable, and they deliver the game film quickly. Over the season, collect great clips of your best moments so your highlight video gets better and better. If you have a particularly great clip to share, put that video on Twitter or YouTube all by itself.
If you’re already in communication with any college coaches, send them each a quick email or text with the link to that single video. College coaches are VERY busy this time of year, but they like getting quick updates from PSAs that are on their recruiting radars. Tell the coach that the video is very short (“I don’t want to waste your time. This video is only 12 seconds, and I thought you’d like to see it.”)
DON’T send long “cold call” emails. If you are emailing a college coach for the first time during the Fall soccer season, keep your email SHORT and SIMPLE. Coaches have VERY little time in-season to read emails, and a long novel of an email from a brand new PSA would not do that player any favors. Put the link to your highlight video near the beginning of the email.
Explain what position(s) you play, what team you are on, and your style of play. If you have a GPA that will get you through admissions or earn you good academic scholarships, mention that, too. Explain quickly why you love that specific school, and provide your cell phone number as well as your club coach’s cell phone number. THAT’S IT. SHORTER IS BETTER this time of year.
DO go to college soccer games. Your schedule is insanely busy, but if you want to be a college athlete, you’d better get used to an insanely busy schedule! Get to a college soccer game. Pay attention to the style of play and the style of coaching. See if those styles fit into what you’re looking for in your future college team. If you have already been in contact with a coach, let that coach know that you will be going to the game a few days ahead of time.
DON’T ask a coach for free tickets. First, there are NCAA rules about how many tickets coaches can give to PSAs. Second, you don’t want to look like an annoying handout seeker. Third, college soccer tickets aren’t very expensive, and all of the ticket proceeds go to the school’s athletic department, so you’ll be helping the team with your ticket purchase. Always let the coach be the one to bring up complimentary tickets to games.
DO invite coaches to come watch you play. If a college team is playing a game near where you will be playing a club game and the schedules don’t overlap, there’s a chance someone on the coaching staff could come watch you play — especially if your team is in a very competitive league and your game is against strong competition. Email the coaches and let them know about your upcoming game. Show in your email that you’ve done your homework. (“Maybe you or coach Smith could come by after your LMU game that day.”)
DON’T be stupid. Inviting a coach to come watch your upcoming game while that college team is on a road trip 2,000 miles away is an easy way to get on a coach’s bad side quickly. Constantly calling or emailing a coach is also not helpful. Sometimes you won’t get a response at all. Sometimes a response will take a week or more. If you don’t hear back from a college coach during college soccer season, take a step back and cool it on the communication for a while.
DO kick butt this season on the field and in the classroom! Enjoy it (soccer is a GAME, after all) and know that you will find the perfect fit for your college years.