At 29-years-old, I can say I’ve experienced some epic life events:
– Seeing Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ten times in theaters.
– Attending a Stevie Wonder concert on Copacabana beach in Brazil.
– Being in a women’s World Cup 2019 commercial with professional forward, Rose Lavelle. <— Stay tuned. You’ll see the back of my ponytail when it releases. I’m famous, I know.
– Eating maggots in the Amazon jungle.
– Being princess Kate Middleton for Halloween.
As many cool shenanigans I’ve experienced, ranking up there with the rest of these is playing college soccer. Being a part of the women’s soccer team at Johns Hopkins University for four years was arguably the best experience of my life.
And now that I’m several years out, I look back fondly on my college soccer days.
There was nothing more fulfilling than being on a team to represent my university.
There was nothing more exhilarating than winning the conference championship four years in a row.
There was nothing more badass than being captain with another badass and leading the team 21-1 senior year.
There was nothing more rewarding than breaking scoring records and contributing to my team’s success.
There was nothing more adrenaline-filled than studying for a calculus exam on the way to the NCAA Sweet 16.
There was nothing more empowering than being amongst other athletic, intelligent and authentic young women, who I still see to this day.
Okay, okay. I’ll stop being a braggart.
My point is, college soccer was super cool. And I want all of the athletes I train to experience the same. Actually, I want all youth players who aspire to play in college to not only get recruited, but to choose the right school for them athletically, academically, and socially.
So how do kids get recruited nowadays? How do they rise above the noise and get seen?
Well, you’re in luck. I recruit part-time for Johns Hopkins now, in addition to my full-time performance training career.
Let’s get right to it:
1. Technical sharpness.
I’m not talking being able to perform one hundred toe taps. Nor am I talking about being able to tap your feet through agility rings and perform a Scissors move unopposed.
I’m talking being technically sharp specific for your position. Better yet, under defensive pressure.
After all, first touch, passing, and ball control should be a given at this level. Every girl who attends our ID camp, I expect to be proficient at these. By the age of 12.
Then, it becomes time for big-girl-technical-skills.
Here’s what I mean: how have you mastered the technical demands of your position? How will your skills stand out amongst the other forwards, midfielders and defenders your age? How will you blow college coaches away with your creativity and ability to adapt to various technical environments?
Here’s what I’m looking for as far as technique based on position:
Forwards: 1v1 capability, 1v1 move variety, 1v1 moves with left and right foot, shooting with left and right foot, turning against pressure, cracking a rapid shot against pressure, shielding the ball
Midfielders: 1v1 capability, 1v1 move variety, changing point of attack rapidly, swirling around defensive pressure to find space, speed dribbling into space and to penetrate
Defenders: first touch with a direction and purpose, sharp passing to outside defenders and midfielders, long balls (diagonal and behind the other team’s back line), weighted passes through to the midfield
If you want to invest in skills training, then, ensure your trainer is addressing the specific technical demands of your position.
Everything else, especially the basics, should be mastered by this age. And done on your own time. End of story.
2. Tactical knowledge.
By now, this should be a given.
Can they read the game with a new set of teammates at an ID camp? Can they anticipate runs off the ball? Can they think two steps ahead? Are they able to adapt to new formations? Do they have a solid soccer IQ?
Again, by now, they should be able to read the game like a book. Like second nature.
3. Physical fitness.
If you’ve followed me for a length of time, you know I tout physical development. A lot.
But yo. For good reason: the college game is becoming more demanding. All around, players are bigger, faster and stronger. Oh, and it’s worth mentioning: the college seasons call for 2-3 games a week, with practices the other days. And a grueling pre-season with two or three-a-day trainings.
What are you doing to prepare for the robust demands? What are you doing to outrun your opponents, optimize your speed, and increase your resiliency?
Hopefully, you said hitting the gym.
Let me ask you this: if I called your kid tomorrow, would they have passion behind their voice?
I only ask because too often, I get on the phone with potential recruits and they are dull, boring, and don’t have genuine interest in playing for our program.
As much as I get high school kids are shy, I urge them to speak up, find their voice, and express their passion for a college program. Nothing is more attractive and screams a “green light” than a girl who has an insatiable desire to contribute to our university.
To that end, personality matters.
Also, social media matters. If your kid is getting messed up on the weekends and posting it on their Instagram, we will know. And we will “x” them, no matter how talented they are.
Other random things to consider:
– ID Camps: only have your kid attend the ID camps that she has talked to a college coach beforehand. As a recruiter, I give an extra look to athletes I have communicated and developed a rapport with before the ID camp begins.
– Showcases: please ensure you are making college coaches aware of all of the showcase games you are playing. There’s nothing better than seeing a potential recruit play with her own team and in her authenticity.
– Timing: start the recruiting process EARLY. Please don’t wait until end of sophomore year.
– Autonomy: as a parent, give your child autonomy. Make sure they reach out to us college coaches on their own. It shows initiative. It shows confidence. It shows passion and interest.
Anyway, I hope these pointers help.
College sports recruiting is no joke nowadays.
It takes a tremendous effort for athletes to do work on their own time, from the technical to tactical to physical development, so make sure they’re filling in the bucket that needs the most filling. Oftentimes, it’s the physical fitness. ;-O
But hey. Soccer is a game of all three components – technical, tactical, physical. Maximize them. Don’t ignore one piece. Or your kid will just be another face in the pack.