With over one thousand colleges in the U.S. offering women’s soccer programs in 2018, there has never been a better time to consider playing past high school. This article will cover the ins and outs of college soccer recruitment and outline the most effective ways to get discovered by college soccer coaches.
Freshman year of high school is a great time to begin preparations for the college soccer recruitment process. The first step is to research prospective schools and their women’s soccer programs to get a feel for what it would be like to attend classes and play on the team there. Important considerations include the geographical region of the university, the academic programs on offer, and the quality of the soccer program.
It’s important to be realistic even at this early stage of the process, as there are so many schools and universities with women’s soccer programs to choose from and only so much time that can be spent targeting specific schools over the following two years. Carefully thinking through your preferences and being realistic about your abilities can save a lot of time and stress later when preparing to go on official college visits and attend on-site summer camps hosted by the coaches themselves.
College coaches do not have the time or budget to visit lots of high school and club matches to discover a diamond in the rough, so directly emailing about upcoming tournaments is the most efficient way to put yourself on their radar and make your interest in joining their program clear.
Sending along a short video clip of your in-game highlights is also helpful at this stage to give coaches a clearer indication of your skills and so they can better imagine the role you might play on their teams.
Keep in mind that while Division I coaches are not permitted to directly contact athletes until September 1st of their junior year according to recently updated NCAA recruiting guidelines, there is no such restriction imposed on athletes. This means you can contact coaches with questions or statements of interest at any time, even during freshman or sophomore year of high school.
A good rule of thumb is to treat the athletic recruitment process like a job search. Since the major task is to convince the coach that you are a great fit for their program, top priority should be placed on getting your name on their recruitment list and giving them the opportunity to watch you play. Most coaches do not attend club or high school matches, but they may be attending larger showcase tournaments and will only know to look for you if you let them know where you’ll be.
Most coaches will not be able to travel to watch a match with only one player of interest, so more creative methods to get spotted will likely be required. As mentioned before, it is beneficial to create an exciting highlight video and send the link to coaches in your initial email correspondences. Highlight videos are a great way for coaches to get to know your skills and pique their curiosity about seeing you play for an entire match.
The second way is to attend camps where you are sure the coaches will be. Once again, email the coaches directly to find out where they will be and make every effort possible to be there. College soccer camps are usually held during the spring or summer and are often run by the college coaches themselves, in addition to high-level club coaches. You can find information about summer camps at the homepage of the school you’re interested in attending.
Getting spotted by college soccer coaches is no easy task, but following these steps makes it much more likely that you will get spotted by the college soccer coaches you are most interested in playing under.
Our best advice is to start early, plan well and never stop working hard to raise your skills to the collegiate level. Once you have a list of schools to target and information about where the coaches will be, the only thing left is to show them what you can do on the field. Good luck!
Further Resources to Explore
NCAA Compliance Documents - Make sure you’re familiar with the most up-to-date regulations governing the conduct of NCAA coaches and athletes.
NCAA Recruiting Calendar - Be sure to keep track of key dates and periods of time when recruitment occurs under NCAA guidelines.
List of NCAA Member Schools for Women’s Soccer - A complete list of NCAA member schools that offer women’s soccer programs.
List of NAIA Member Schools for Women’s Soccer - A complete list of NAIA member schools that offer women’s soccer programs.
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