What do college soccer coaches look for in a player? (part 1 of a 3 part series)

24 Aug

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Part 1-  It’s not random

Standing on the sidelines of a match at the San Diego Surf Cup, you might find yourself next to one of several hundred college soccer coaches who roam the polo fields to glimpse the talents of some of the top youth players in the country.  Sitting in lawn chairs, their hats pulled down low, school logo proudly on display, they spend their day glancing up from their clipboard to take in the action.  I spent my weekend connecting with dozens of college coaches, learning about their soccer programs and asking them one important question; “what do you look for in a player?”  In this two part series I will reveal a bit of what I discovered.

College coaches at Surf Cup aren’t looking for players at random.  They are looking at kids who have expressed specific interest in their school.  Many of the kids being scouted had emailed programs ahead of time, letting them know that they had a genuine interest in their university.  Not only that, these players had been very clear in terms of when and where they were playing.  As one Division 1 women’s coach put it, “the more specific a kid is in their communication, the better.  I want to know what field they will be on, what color jersey they will be wearing, their number and position on the field.”  At elite tournaments like Surf Cup, coaches are watching between 30-40 players over the weekend, so it’s helpful for them to have as much relevant information about a player as possible.  This attention to detail also displays a real commitment to attract the attention of the coach.  If a player displays a genuine interest in a program, then that program may take a genuine interest in them.

It’s also likely that the coach has already taken a look at a player’s academic profile.  “It all starts with the grades” said a coach from an elite Division 3 school on the east coast.  Coaches want to know right away if a student is going to be competitive from an admissions standpoint.  If they know that a player has no chance of being admitted to the school, they won’t waste their time watching them play.

So for those of you out there who are hoping to “get discovered” at a tournament like Surf Cup, know that the process isn’t random and there are proactive steps that you can take to attract the eyes of collegiate coaches.

1) Connect with coaches ahead of time via email.  Let them know who you are and why you think their school would be right for you.

2) Address the coach using their name and make the email specific.

3) Include your academic profile, and only email coaches of schools where you think you might be a fit from an academic perspective.

If you display a genuine interest in a school and your grades check out,  you might just attract one of these coaches to your next big tournament.

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