Recruiting advice from ScoutingZone for high school athletes
The founders of ScoutingZone speak with college coaches constantly. ScoutingZone was originally created for college coaches (not for players). READ THIS ARTICLE to learn more about the origins of ScoutingZone.
SoccerNation reached out to Tara Parker, ScoutingZone co-founder, to find out how the latest zoom sessions went and what college coaches are up to these days.
Zoom sessions are helping confused high school athletes and families
SN: How did the first ZOOM sessions go? Is the next one already full?
TP: We have done three zoom sessions with players so far and they went great! We are capping them at 100 players so that we have sufficient time to get through the Q&A and encourage a more intimate environment for the players. So far, they have been a full house. This week we are hosting three, and then we will continue to host up to two per week going forward. We love doing these educational trainings! Many families are very confused in general with the recruiting process and to add this uncertain time we are all currently facing has everyone almost paralyzed with to how to proceed. It’s been really rewarding to share our message and provide a game plan for the players to execute during this “off the field” recruiting season. We have the entire 4 week recruiting plan available on the ScoutingZone website for anyone to download.
What are College Coaches up to These Days?
SN: What are college coaches doing these days to recruit? You talk to them all the time. How are they doing? How are they handling recruiting during this time?
TP: They miss being on the fields, like everyone. Nothing compares to watching a recruit play live. However, they also recognize they have to adjust and change the way they recruit to adapt to today’s environment. Recruiting is not stopping just because we are unable to be on the fields. Currently, coaches are watching a ton of film; both highlight clips and full matches that players send them and to find new recruits. They actually have the time now to watch a lot of film, so that’s where they are spending most of their time. Players that continue to press forward with their recruiting efforts, will be the players that separate from the pack and will have more opportunity to play college soccer.
What about Coaches Who Seemed Interested before the World Went Crazy?
SN: What would you tell an athlete who asks, “I had a few coaches who seemed interested in me before this pandemic started. What should I do now?”
TP: Continue continue continue reaching out to them! It’s so important you don’t stop your recruiting process right now. If you are younger than a June 15th of your sophomore year, you want to stay on their radar. Send emails with updates: video clips, relevant information, anything new. You just want to stay on the forefront of their minds so that when they are able to come see you play, they will remember you. If you are older than June 15th of your sophomore year: continue to reach out. But you can also have conversations with them. This will help you know their true interest level and where you stand on their recruitment list. It’s ok to ask them questions. No matter where you are within your recruiting process — there is so much you can be doing during this time. So turn this downtime into a positive and separate yourself from the pack.
Advice for Choosing a College during Covid19
SN: Lots of high school seniors and juniors are wondering, “How do I choose a college when I can’t go visit?”
TP: Lots of schools are providing virtual tours, I highly recommend taking advantage of them. Also, you can do plenty of research academically, financially, athletically and socially on most colleges through the internet. While it’s always great to visit a campus in person, many student athletes aren’t able to and utilizing college research online can provide a tremendous amount of information. Also, if you are of recruiting age (older than June 15th sophomore yr), having a live conversation with the coaches goes a long way with getting to know the staff you would potentially be playing for. And remember: colleges will open again. And visits will resume. Take advantage of this time that is given to you and do extensive research on your own, now, while you have the time.
Specific advice for High School Juniors
SN: Any advice for high school juniors?
TP: Juniors still have plenty of time. Many decisions will be pushed off a few months. The MOST IMPORTANT thing right now, is to not take your foot off the gas. Continue to press forward with your recruiting efforts. Continue to communicate with coaches. Stay relevant. Send video clips. Continue to be on their radar. Email, call and ask questions. You need to start narrowing down your list.
What about Seniors Trying to Choose a College?
SN: A lot of acceptances just started rolling in, and a lot of players don’t end up with offers until late in senior year. What about those seniors who are trying to decide between colleges now but are unable to visit in person?
TP: Unfortunately we find ourselves in this unprecedented time. This is newly navigated waters for everyone, including players, coaches and colleges. I am not going to sugar coat it, it’s very tough for the seniors right now for a variety of reasons. You just have to do the best you can, with what you have available. Refer to the above answer about not being able to visit colleges; research is your best tool right now. You really have to put your work in remotely, do your research and make phone calls. It’s not an easy answer but it’s what we have to work with at this time.
Staying Active with Recruiting in These Unprecedented Times: Update your Highlight Video!
SN: I don’t have any recent video to show college coaches. What should I do? Should I work on improving my current video? What tools do you recommend for making or improving highlight videos?
TP: If you have any video from within the last year, I would suggest using it. I also wonder if video companies that are listed on previous tournaments you have played in (during the months prior to our shutdown) might still have video on hand. Players could reach out to see about obtaining game footage. This might be one way to obtain some new clips. You should always work on improving your highlight video, you want it to represent the best YOU. Coaches have a lot more time on their hands, therefore are spending more time watching videos.
An Updated Video or a New Clip is a Great Reason to Contact a Coach
TP: Also, sending individual clips or an updated video gives you a reason to have a touch point with the coaching staff as well. This is so important — especially right now when “virtual recruiting” is all we have to work with. In terms of making a video, plenty of players are able to edit film themselves directly on their phones — kudos to our tech-savvy generation of high schoolers! We outlined many tips in the 4 week recruiting plan to ensure you create an effective video or clip.
SN: A ton of kids are doing training on their own — footwork drills, juggling, that kind of thing. Would those little clips be good to send to college coaches? Or would it be more annoying and not helpful? Should a player just tell a coach they’re still working hard? Or would a fun little self-training video be good?
TP: Good question for these new times! In “normal” times I would suggest NOT sending home/solo training. While it’s great to see a player working hard independently it doesn’t always equally translate to their ability to perform on the field, in a game. Your main clips should still be game footage. Coaches really want to see how you move on the field, under pressure, decision making, athleticism and insight into you as a player in a game situation. But, if you want to send a little clip with your “off field” training to have a reason for another touch point, then sure why not! Rules are out the window a little right now and it’s important you stay relevant and in front of the coaches.
Thank you, Tara & the entire SZ team, for all of your hard work!
We are all excited to see you back out on the field again soon!