What Does a College Soccer Coach Look for in a Recruit?
“What do you look for in a player/recruit?” Having a number of college coaches on the staff here at PSP, this is a question that we get asked a lot. I can tell you all that no one coach will look for the same thing in a recruit as the next one.
A lot of the decisions stem from the position the recruit plays or a particular hole we are trying to fill in our squad for our college team. One of the biggest things I look for in a potential recruit is knowledge of the game. That doesn’t mean the history of soccer, but how much does he know about his position on the field? It is quite easy to tell those who know the game and a few things I look for are: his position when not in possession, his body shape when receiving a ball, how does this one player fit in with the rest of his team mates (team shape and compactness).
Another attribute I want to see from a recruit that is on trail training with the college team is; his willingness to get involved. Does he just drift around the game not really wanting the ball or does he demand it off his teammates? How does he react to his mistakes or in other words is he mentally tough?
Obviously, if we are looking for a certain type of player like a goal-scorer, his attributes need to be different than those of a box-to-box midfielder. Something else that I think is a fantastic attribute to have is being very two-footed. Is he comfortable on the ball with both feet?
Perhaps the biggest thing for a recruit to have is a comfort playing in small, tight, heavily pressured spaces. This is what we ask of our college players, be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.
I NEVER look at a player’s physical stature when it comes to recruiting them; there are too many players that get passed up because they are too small or physically not very strong. Some of the best players we have ever had have been “under-sized”. Players like this have learned by the time we recruit them that they cannot compete physically so they need to play with fewer touches so as not to get in a physical battle with their opposite number. I believe in this country (the U.S.) there is too much emphasis on the physical stature of a player rather than is he talented enough to play. That is why the coaches at PSP purely look at how good a player is rather than how strong/big/fast a player is!
Keep on studying the game, keep on watching professional games on the television and see what the professionals do in different situations. Watch their movement off the ball and how they create space for their teammates with ‘unselfish’ runs. All these things can help your development into becoming the best player you can be.
Written by John Haworth, College Coach and PSP Staff Member