Is your dream to play college soccer? Is it what you’ve been thinking of during those endless practices, tiring scrimmages, and exhausting games? In order to maximize your efforts to play in college, it should start with the understanding that college recruiting is a business.  Yes, that’s right.  College coaches are afforded a sum of funds to spend each year to secure players that will yield victory for the coach, the staff and the school.   As a parent/player, it’s your job to secure as much funding as you can, and it’s the coaches’ challenge to secure a player for as little out of pocket as possible.  Therefore, in order to be successful in the recruiting process, it essential to cast a wide net; develop rapport with as many college coaches as you can. The sooner you start, the better your chances will be.  College coaches want to recruit players with great character, great grades, great skill, pretty much in that order.
The truth is, less than 10 percent of all high school athletes are playing their given sport at an NCAA-member institution, and just a third of those are receiving an athletic scholarship.  It’s crucial that players and parents learn all they can about this process known as recruiting and how it works.
No matter what any one person or organization claims, nobody can guarantee you or your child an athletic scholarship. But it's our hope here at PUFC that this information -- plus what you gather along the way -- can help you take control of the recruiting process and ultimately make you dream come true.


TAKE THE RIGHT CLASSES 
Before communicating with college coaches and recruiting tapes are viewed, a student-athlete takes classes in his or her freshman year of high school that directly affect his or her NCAA eligibility.
Because eligibility standards continue to evolve, it's an athlete's responsibility to make sure his or her class schedule fulfills NCAA core course requirements. The best way to make sure you meet all requirements is to schedule an appointment with a high school guidance counselor to ensure your course schedule is in line with the approved high school core course list. It's a good idea to do this each year, as high school curriculums can change as often as NCAA compliance requirements. Get your recruiting guide here:
 Top Drawer Soccer
Quick Tip: Let your guidance counselor "guide" you in your high school course selections – starting with your freshman year and continuing throughout your high school career.


REGISTER WITH THE NCAA
It used to be called the NCAA clearinghouse, but now it's the NCAA Eligibility Center; students must register to validate their status as an amateur athlete. (This is to ensure an athlete isn't being funded or being paid to play).
The process is relatively pain-free; all you need is $50 and a Social Security number. But don't leave it to the last minute. Every year a few student athletes miss out on the chance to play collegiately because they fail to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
Quick Tip: Register with the NCAA by your junior year.
NCAA Registration:  http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future/how-register


MAKE YOUR LISTS
Before you compile a list of 200 schools you would just die to play for, remember the function of the list is to help you focus your search going into your sophomore and junior year, not to overly complicate the process with unrealistic expectations.
Student athletes should make three lists:  On the first, list your dreams schools.  On the second, list all the schools you could realistically get into based on your athleticism and grades.  On the last list, name the “safety net” schools – schools that aren’t on your first two lists but would still be of interest to you in case something unexpected happens.  
Now before you freak out about the prospect of not attending your favorite university, realize that there may be some overlap between lists one and two.  Ideally your three lists should total no more than 12 to 15 schools, with the bulk of the schools residing in the "realistic" list.
Quick Tip: Make three lists--with four or five schools per list--to focus your college search.


CREATE A VIDEO AND KEEP IT CURRENT 
The recruiting video is one of the most important ways an athlete can attract the attention of coaches at the university level. Unfortunately, it's also where many athletes come up short, with substandard video quality and unnecessary production components.  A skills video should contain 1st touch skills from different angles, high – shoulder, head, and chest; medium – mid section and knees: and low – ball control, dribbling, and shooting.  Your video should have 10 to 15 highlight plays, with an additional game half included to show real-time ability.
So how do you make the video? Well, like anything in life, quality does count. This doesn't mean you have to hire Steven Spielberg to shoot your footage, but many people find hiring a videographer a worthwhile expense.

For those on a tighter budget, it is acceptable to shoot footage from the stands with a modest camcorder. Just make sure to use a tripod, if possible, to avoid camera shake and practice following the action numerous times to get the feel of filming a live sport. The general rule of film is to shoot five times more footage than you'll actually need.  Also, skip the heavy metal soundtrack and colorful graphics. Coaches hate them!
Quick Tip: Keep your video short, simple and as professional-looking as possible.


RESEARCH THE SCHOOLS
This task used to be a lot more difficult 10 years ago. But with the rise of the internet, there is a wealth of recruiting information available, both official and unofficial, about virtually any college or university in which you might have an interest.  

For starters, check out the school's website to find out the best coach or school official to contact. For smaller schools, individual e-mail addresses for coaches can be found quite easily, as they often view the website as a promotional tool for their institution. Bigger schools may require a little detective work to find contact information for specific coaches, but it is not impossible; email addresses are usually located in the athletic directory section of the school’s website.  Once you find the email address of the coach you would like to contact, send the coach a note to let him or her know that you are interested in attending the university.

Another great resource is to talk to current and former players who've already been through the recruiting process at that particular university. You can get player referrals directly from the school, or perhaps do a search for athletes who've played at the university on social networking sites such as Facebook. Once you make a connection, let them know you're interested in attending their school (or alma mater) and ask if they have any tips or information about the program. Though the information you receive may not be entirely reliable, it can be an invaluable way to peek inside a program, warts and all.
Quick Tip: Check out a school's website. Find out who's on their roster and collect contact information for relevant coaches.


FIRST CONTACT
Now it's time to place yourself on a college's radar in an aggressive -- but friendly -- way. It used to be this could wait until your junior year, but with the pace of youth sports increasing all the time, it's probably a good idea to begin contacting coaches in the summer before your sophomore year for D-II and D-III schools, and during Club or Travel season during your freshman year if you are looking at D-I schools.  

So what do you include in your e-mail or letter to the coach? To start, make an introduction explaining who you are and why you're contacting them (keep it short-- coaches are busy).  A paragraph or two should do.  A copy of your recruiting video or a link where they can view your video -- the latter quickly becoming a popular choice with coaches -- as well as a recruiting resume with details such as stats, honors, academic data and contact information for your high school coaches should also be included.

Some people prefer to make contact with a coach by phone. This is fine as long it is the athlete who is making contact, and not the athlete's mom or dad claiming their kid is the next Lionel Messi.  Not only does that come off as unprofessional, but it also robs the coach of a chance to get to know the athlete on a personal basis.
Quick Tip: Check out a school's website. Find out who's on their roster and let the coaches know you're interested.


INCREASE YOUR GAME AND YOUR EXPOSURE AT A UNIVERSITY CAMP
Sports camps generally serve two different functions: to help an athlete get better, and to help an athlete get noticed. Some sports camps, especially those at universities you've targeted, can often do both at the same time. Many coaches find camps a great way to fill out their rosters.  Unfortunately those hoping a few days at a university camp will magically get an athlete recruited, without having established rapport with that institution beforehand, are often disappointed. Contact the coach a few weeks before attending their camp and send him or her your resume and video.

Even if you are not on the radar of a university whose camp you attend, it is still a good investment with potential for great outcomes.  This is because the coaching fraternity, despite the large number of colleges in the United States, is actually quite small. Though you may not get an offer from Penn State simply by attending one of their camps, this doesn't mean the coach running the camp can't point you toward an opening at a different university.  Like any job, it's all about networking and creating relationships. So be on your best behavior and be ready to learn as much as possible. You might just get recruited, without even realizing it.
Quick Tip: Attend a camp and be flexible; you never know where that first impression might lead.  Know this:  you are being watched, so always be kind, be respectful, and hustle -- even if it’s just to the water fountain and back.


THE FINAL CHOICE 
Ok. It's your senior year, and hopefully, you have a few offers on the table. So what do you do? How do you narrow down the school that is right for you?
For most athletes, it will depend on the financial package being offered by the school; i.e., academic funding, athletic funding, grants, loans, etc.  How much of the tuition, room/board, books and fees are they offering?  What will your out of pocket be? If one school offers a significantly greater financial award, it shouldn't be considered lightly; it’s clear demonstration that they are interested in you as an athlete and a student.

For others, it will be a question of possible playing time on the next level. Do you have a good chance of getting in the starting lineup by your sophomore and junior year? Think about it this way:  if you're a goalie, and they've already have two underclass goalies in front of you, there might be better places for you to pursue your higher education.

Ultimately, most people suggest basing your final decision on the university itself. Not just the athletic department, but the overall collegiate experience a school has to offer.  Selecting a school based solely on a preferred coach may be a mistake given the turnover level of college coaches.  There’s always a chance that something could happen to a student’s athletic career.  The wise thing for any student athlete to consider is, if something does happen that prevents me from playing the sport I love in college, at which school would I be the most happy?
Quick Tip: Choose a university that offers you the best environment for academic, athletic and personal development. Content...
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