The recruiting process is not an easy one to master.
There are thousands of options to choose from across the nation. Identifying and refining the right criteria is a huge part of the search. Prioritizing everything from academics, facilities, coaching staff, level of play or a number of other factors can come into play.
EXACT Sports can be an asset for any player about to embark on the recruiting search. EXACT specializes in guiding athletes to achieve their peak potential through its college training camp programs, which are attended by thousands of college coaches and elite athletes around the country. Over 70% of athletes who have attended EXACT events have gone on to play college athletics.
To help jump-start your search, take EXACT’s quiz to see if you have what it takes to play in college.
Take the Initiative
While it’s important to always keep recruiting rules in mind, if playing college soccer is your goal, it’s always better to start the process sooner rather than later.
So what does that look like? Start to identify schools of interest, whether it’s prioritizing the soccer or academic piece. If possible, making visits can help you figure out what to look for in an ideal college home, and then start to create a list of 20-30 schools that could be a good fit. While early communication is now prohibited, that can’t stop a prospective student athlete from getting a start on the process as a freshman or sophomore.
“One of the biggest mistakes we see athletes and families make is they are waiting for the recruiting process to come to them,” EXACT National Director Sam Morgan said. “The proactive athletes have the highest rate of success getting recruited.”
Going above and beyond to research and identify programs can provide a leg up for recruits. While it helps them to be well-informed and come up with a list of possible college homes, coaches will take notice of a potential student athlete that is armed with a strong understanding of the school and program.
“When a college coach sees a proactive player, it shows sincere interest,” Morgan said. “College coaches want to recruit players who are passionate and willing to put in some work. They see that as an indication of how successfully the student athlete will transition into the college environment.”
Create goals for the Short and Long-Term
The recruiting process always begins with a specific goal in mind: playing college soccer.
But without setting goals or benchmarks, it’s easy for that to come off track. Because the desired outcome requires diligence in the classroom and athletic development, setting short and long-term goals can serve as a way to keep things in focus and stay on that path.
Not only will be it be a useful asset in the search, but it’s a skill that can pay dividends later in life.
“Goal-setting is a critical skill for anything in life, making it as a college athlete included,” Morgan said. “You can be the hardest worker in the room, but without a goal in mind it is wasted effort. If you did not have anything specific you are working toward, how will you know if you have achieved anything?”
A player should enter each season with targeted outcomes in mind, both on the field and in the classroom. That gives a frame of reference to judge a season or a high school year and consider how things have progressed. Creating measurable benchmarks can draw a player closer to his or her goal of playing soccer in college. That’s important when considering the kind of grades needed to get into school or be able to earn a spot at the desired level or program.
Even after a commitment is made, remembering to set goals continues to be important, so that when you get to campus, you can be ready for the challenge.
“Development is an ongoing process,” Morgan said. “A lot of players think development ends when they commit to a college, when in fact that is when development expectations get even higher. Establishing good habits for development in high school will help players prepare for the demands of college athletics.”
Take Ownership Over Your Character
As simple and obvious as it sounds, soccer is a team sport. Part of being a student-athlete is fitting into a group bigger than yourself, relating to both your peers and coaching staffs that you are working with.
And while there is plenty of importance in the process about your on-field ability, character counts in the recruiting process.
“One of the most common questions we hear from players is, ‘What do college coaches look for in a player?’ While every coach has different technical and physical capabilities they look for, all coaches want a player with good character,” Morgan said. “During a tournament, coaches watch how players interact with their parents, teammates, and youth coaches. Good character is a major plus, and bad character is the quickest way to get removed from a college coach’s recruiting list.”
In the social media era, there are opportunities to either put your best foot forward or cost yourself a shot at a scholarship. A highly-connected world allows players to showcase what they value, connect with potential coaches and teammates as they grow and develop as players.
Taking ownership of those opportunities and showing what you value can be a big part of finding the right fit. Surrounding yourself with the kind of coaches and teammates that share your character and values is likely to yield four years of success in whatever college home you choose. Connecting with coaches is a way for you to learn about them and for them to learn about what you value. It can make all the difference in the world.
“Building good relationships is one of the most important skills in the recruiting process,” Morgan said. “On a team of players, a coach is most likely to recruit or play athletes that he or she likes. We teach players how to network with confidence so they can begin building positive relationships with college coaches that will help them down the road.”
Learn more about EXACT’s college training camps as you start your search for the right college soccer program.
This article is brought to you by EXACT Sports.