College Recruiting – how do I get a college coach to notice me?

Many times parents and players are seeking information on the recruiting process and how to go about being noticed by a college coach. There are so many questions to ask and so much information to process. When do I need to apply? How important are test scores and grades? How do I contact a coach? Do I need a video? What is the eligibility center?

Even though each school and each coach deals with recruiting differently I think that there are a couple of general statements that are true for everyone:

–      Do well in school

–      Do well on the SAT’s or ACT’s.

–      Look for a school that has your major

–      Try to be realistic when it comes to soccer

When it comes to the soccer team – DO YOUR RESEARCH!!

Educate yourself about the team and the conference. Go and watch a game or two so you know the level, the team’s style of play and see for yourself how the coach is interacting with the players and what type of coach he or she is. I personally think that this is very important and something that many players and parents forget during the process.

LIU Post Men's SoccerECC Champs 2012

LIU Post Men’s Soccer
ECC Champs 2012

Communication – How To Stand Out In a Positive Way

According to NCAA less than 6% of boys high school soccer players will go on and play soccer at a NCAA institution. That means that out of 100 graduating seniors only 6 of them will have a chance to play soccer in college, at the NCAA level. Figuring that each high school soccer team has about 8 graduating seniors it would have to take two highschools to find one college soccer player.

(The percentage is slightly higher for women soccer players and the percentage is less than 4% for both men and women basketball, statistics for more sports can be found at the link below)

http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/eligibility_center/Athletics_Information/Probability_of_Competing_Past_High_School.pdf

I receive over 50 emails per week from players, parents and recruiting agencies with player resumes, videos or general emails. Most of these emails I directly delete and the biggest reason for this is that the email isn’t customized for me specifically. It is obvious to me when the email is sent out as a mass email. My name is not included, it simply states: “Dear Coach” and the name of my school is not included, it says “Your School”.

If the interested student athlete doesn’t have the time to customize their email, I simply feel that I don’t have the time to send them a reply email either. It doesn’t take much to stand out. I strongly suggest the student take the time to customize the email. Address the email to the coach with the coach’s last name (make sure you spell it correctly!) and mention that you have looked at the school’s and the team’s website.

Maybe a line about a recent game or an upcoming game?

Example:  “Coach Lindberg – Congratulations on a great result vs ABC University…” or I saw on your website that you have a big conference game coming up, I will try to make the game”

This goes a long way and it shows the coach that you have a real interest of the school and the team. If I receive an email like that, I will make sure that I reply to that potential student athlete.

I also think that it is important that the student and not the parent(s) are the driving force when communicating with the coach. Obviously the parents have a major role in the process, and especially the finances involved, but I look for players that are mature and independent, and can keep a conversation via the phone or in person without Mom answering the questions every time. Start with creating an email account in your own name.  Your parents can certainly help you drafting the email and help you out, but when I get an email from MarySmith@emails.com from a player named Justin Smith it is pretty obvious to me that I am in fact communicating with the Mom and not with Justin.

Once you have sent an email, wait a few days and then follow up with a phone call to the coach. It is amazing to me how few times this happens. A simple call to the coach — introducing yourself, checking to see if the coach has received your email and once again expressing your interest of the school and the team — would go a long way and make a very good impression on me. It tells me you are serious about your interest and that you are a mature and responsible young man. Once you have the coach (or the assistant coach) on the phone ask the coach if you can set up a visit to the school and come and meet with the coach.

Once you have a meeting set up, you need to prepare for the meeting. In my next entry I will discuss what you need to do to prepare yourself for such a meeting and how you can increase your chances of making a great impression.

Yours in Soccer!

Andreas Lindberg

Andreas Lindberg is the site director for Future Stars at Farmingdale State College.

Lindberg is also the current Head Coach for Nationally ranked LIU Post Men’s Soccer Team. Under his guidance the Pioneers won the East Coast Conference Championship in 2009 and 2012. Lindberg was chosen to the East Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

Skill

ImageSKILL. Definition ‘Special Ability in a task, sport, etc.,esp ability acquired or developed by training’.

As an avid Soccer fan — be it as spectator, player or coach — skill is something that is always wonderful to see from players, especially in the game environment. With the UEFA Champions League resuming play it’s a great opportunity to see many of the most accomplished players in the world showing off their skills at the highest level.  Players like Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), and Robin Van Persie (Man Utd) are perhaps the more recognizable names we identify with when it comes to skill but these players – along with many others –  can be used as a visual aid for our youth players to strive towards in terms of skill.  At the highest level we see not only skill, but more importantly players performing at pace, whilst under pressure and showing great balance throughout.  As an active coach for players from the youth through collegiate level it is often the case that our players have ‘skill’ and show this in training at a comfortable pace, but when it comes to the game environment it is not always evident. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Best Practices for Coaching Soccer in the United States booklet states “The most fundamental skill in soccer is individual mastery of the ball and the creativity that comes with it”. To that end the focus of developing youth players should be to ensure our athletes have a sound technical base to allow them to apply the specific sports skills in the game environment. To give our players the best chance to succeed and perform in games, we as coaches should ensure every training session is well structured and follows suitable progressions whilst challenging our players to perform outside their ‘comfort zone’. There are a variety of coaching styles and methods, and it is important that a coach creates an environment that works for him/her and the players on the team. David Beckham was perhaps the most recognizable name in the professional game in the US in recent years and was famously quoted saying “I still look at myself and want to improve”. Hopefully we can encourage our youth players to have the same attitude and then enjoy the moments of skill that follow and celebrate them with our players.

aspatuck_2

Preparation

As we are lucky to be witnesses to this incredible era of tennis we need to realize that it is more than just “great players” competing. Through modern sports science, psychology, training techniques, nutritional practices, and equipment, today’s players are reaching new heights. Even more important is the dedication, hard work, and commitment that they put into their profession.

In the 1980s John McEnroe stated that he did not enjoy practicing; in fact, he used his doubles play as his “practice.” He was one of the greatest doubles players in the world but in today’s game we see very few of the top men playing doubles. Martina Navratilova and Ivan Lendl began the era of physical conditioning which coincided with other sports improved training methods. Sport specific training has been continually evolving and allowing athletes in all sports to compete at incredible levels. In the Australian Open we saw some amazing matches that included Djokovic’s almost 5 hour win over Wawrinka and Ferrer’s marathon match over Amalgado (not to mention last year’s historic matches which included Djokovic over Nadal in the finals in an almost 6 hour match after a grueling battle in the semis against Andy Murray).

During his press conference, Djokovic said,

“I mean the people who don’t know tennis, who have never been in those kinds of situations would not truly understand what the player has to go through, not just when you prepare for a Grand Slam but also during a Grand Slam,” Djokovic said. “After five hours of match, you need to really put a lot of time into recovery, different kinds of recoveries.

“As I said, I understand that many people have many different views and opinions, and I respect that. But I’m doing everything that is legal, that is correct, that is natural that I can, possibly can, in my power. And it’s working well.” For Djokovic Recovery is the Routine, NY Times.

In addition to the physical toll that a match like this takes, one cannot underestimate the focus that is required to endure a 5 hour competition at that level. Tennis, in particular, is a unique sport in that there are no teammates to lean on or coaches to give you a mid-match game plan. Even the other individual sports do not compare – golfers have a caddy with them and boxers have their trainers in their corner.

Preparation requires more than just “hard work.” It entails working hard correctly and managing one’s time. An athlete needs to be committed but should also have the right people advising, training, and coaching them to optimize their hard work and make it efficient as simply “putting in more time” doesn’t cut it anymore.

It could be argued that the true student-athletes have an even more daunting task in balancing their commitment to their sport with their academic responsibilities. And younger children also need to find the right balance for their lives (and their families’ lives). However, the lesson of preparation that can be instilled in athletes of all ages is critical. It is something that can be transferred to every aspect of life. The bigger picture here is that we can teach work ethic to our young athletes in addition to helping guide them to a healthy lifestyle through sports. The “event” – match, game, tournament, test, report, project, etc. – requires time before, during, and after to achieve success.

Differentiating Goals

With the New Year and new seasons upon us and many of us making resolutions or goals for the year, it brings me to the question of expectations in sports.  In professional sports, the expectations are very clear – WIN. There is no higher level to achieve and therefore winning the championship whether it is the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, World Series, Wimbledon, etc. is the goal. While some will consider anything less than the championship a failure, the reality is that only 1 player will win the Australian Open that starts today and 127 players lose; similarly, only one of the teams in the NFL will be the Super Bowl Champion on February 3rd while all of the other 31 teams are left to try again next year.

When it comes to children in sports, I think one of the most important things we as coaches and parents can do is create the “right” expectations for our children/players. However, this will need to be constantly adjusted and is probably different for different children on the same team. I also believe that children at most levels should focus on their own expectations and then it is not until they reach a certain level of competency that the “team’s” goals become more important.

P1030596Schools in our society have been differentiating instruction successfully and we must strive for this in all forms of youth development. At the early stages of a player’s introduction to a sport, it should be fun and the kids should learn the right way to play. As soon as competition is introduced, it is critical that the games be relatively close with all participants being on par with each other. A team or player that is put in the position of losing too often or being “blown out” in a game is going to get discouraged and not enjoy the sport and experience. Similarly, if some form of success is not achieved, then the child will again be discouraged and potentially lose self esteem. We as the parents and coaches must look objectively at our children to find the right “fit” for our child. While it is very difficult to be completely objective as a parent in evaluating our own child (often being too critical or overly optimistic), we must listen to the coaches who can provide the appropriate objective feedback. And the coaches must be honest with the parents, even if it means moving the child to a different program or a different coach.

It cannot be said enough but every child is unique and children look at the world differently than adults.

What are your goals for this upcoming year for each of your children/players? Are the parents’ and coaches goals aligned? Are the goals realistic while being challenging enough?