On the East Coast, it is that time again when NCAA Division III college coaches start fanning out to college showcase events to see recruits as the Spring tournament season kicks off again. Coaches have their lists of players and players have their list of coaches that they want to come see them play. But the question is, how is that college coach evaluating you?
Most coaches, if they are smart, will evaluate you in many ways.
First, and most obviously, NCAA Division III college coaches will look at your fundamental abilities as a player. How good are you technically? Passing, receiving, dribbling, shooting— pretty obvious so far right? Next of course is the physical part of your game—speed, size, strength, quickness. All important aspects of soccer. All coaches want fast, big, strong players that are technically very solid. Who wouldn’t?
Tactically it is always a little bit harder to evaluate players because a college coach watching from the sidelines does not necessarily know what tactics your club coach has told you to employ for a specific game or situation. Maybe as a defender your club coach wants you to stay back and not push forward into the attack. Or your club coach may have the forwards always stay in specific channels rather than interchange and be a little more creative. But in general, smart tactical players make good decisions on offense and defense, so college coaches will look for that.
Another important aspect that college coaches will look for is the personality and psychological aspects of players. What is your personality like? How do you interact with your teammates? College coaches are asking themselves if you would be a good fit for their team.
For example, when you get to the field, how do you start preparing for the game? Are you the last player to the field? Are you getting focused for competition or just chatting with your friends? Are you encouraging your teammates or just quietly getting ready? What is body language like? Are you excited to be there or just going thru the motions?
How do you behave during the game? Are you a vocal leader on the field or just quietly playing your position? How do you react when you are faced with adversity? What do you do when your team is down a goal and it is late in the game? Do you elevate your level of play to try and get an equalizer or do you just accept the situation? Moreover, what happens if YOU are directly responsible for something bad happening— like you foul an opponent that leads to a penalty kick or you score an own goal. What do your body language and resulting actions say? You are going to face these kind of situations in college soccer, so college coaches want to see this.
How do you react to a bad call by a referee? Are you yelling at the official in protest or do you just accept this as part of the game and move on? What do you say to your teammates in situations like this as well?
What do you do when your coach subs you during the game? Are you shaking your head like a prima donna or are you encouraging your teammate who is taking your place? Again, your body language says a lot.
College coaches want to see how you react when you are faced with adversity. It is easy to be a happy, positive player when you are playing a weak team and are up 6-0 -right? But what happens when your team gives up a late goal to go down a goal in the semifinals of the tournament against a strong team. And the ref has been calling everything for the other team and nothing for your team. Are you being resilient?
The bottom line is this—college coaches are CONSTANTLY evaluating you as a player. From the minute they see you at the field until the time they leave. They look not only at your soccer and athletic abilities but also your personality. College coaches want to find players that are the right fit for their programs. Moreover, they want to evaluate more than once to see you in different sets of circumstances as well.
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