As we enter this exciting time of soccer showcase and tournament season, let's discuss how we can put your athlete in the best possible light with the largest amount of exposure. Many families pay a good deal of money for their children to be apart of elite premier, club or academy teams. The feedback that I have received from these particular families is that because of this price tag, there is an expectation that the work is done and their child will be "discovered" at one of the major playing events scheduled between now and June. I invite you to please view my top 5 showcase tips:
1) Do not wait to be "discovered".
Most college coaches hear about an athlete when they are contacted directly by that player. No matter how good your team is, no matter how well connected your coach is, it does not have the same effect as your child reaching out to the college coach directly. Every showcase or tournament that you will be attending this year will devote a section of their event website to announcing the names of the college coaches that have committed to coming. There is usually a picture of the coach with the name of their school, the division of their soccer program, and their contact information. Take the time to peruse this section and research their school. If it appears to be a potential good fit (has your child's intended major or educational interest, geographical location checks out, and the division of play appears to be appropriate), then your athlete should draft an email to that coach with a copy of their game schedule. Don't forget to include jersey number, color, and expected playing position. Don't worry if you don't get a response back. Keep track of the emails that you have sent, and follow up with another email at the conclusion of the tournament giving the game results. It's a great way to begin dialogue with any coach.
2) Presentation is Everything.
Please be sensitive to what apparel you are choosing to wear to your upcoming showcase or tournament. I have encountered many athletes who show up to game time wearing a warm up suit bearing their high school team's logo, even though they will be playing with their club team for this event. The excuses I can hear being given to their coaches are that it is warmer, more comfortable, or that they like the color better. This is confusing to college coaches. How can they be sure it is you when you have communicated to them that your club team wears green and you are number 3 (however you are actually wearing your high school blues with the number 13 on the jacket)? It also shows your character and professionalism as a player. It doesn't look good for you if you are wearing different socks, shorts or anything that isn't uniform to the rest of your team. It shows a lot about being a team player, right down to your matching under armor. A coach wants to know that you can and will conform to represent their program in the best possible light.
3) Feel the Love.
At some point in our adult life, we have all had a boss that we didn't like. We still had to show up to work, perform our expected job, and keep our comments and disapproval to ourselves. We knew we had to do this, or we run the risk of getting fired. We need to keep this same perspective going into any showcase or tournament. If your child does not like their coach, or if you do not like the coach, keep it to yourself. When a player is shouting at their coach or teammates during a game, or if a parent is yelling at or trying to coach their child during a game, it most definitely presents a poor and undesirable light. No college coach wants to invest time in a drama or headache filled situation. A college coach wants to know that your athlete is going to be a team player and represent their soccer program in the best possible way. Yes, this pertains to parental behaviors as well.
4) Make time to watch the tournament games that are being played within a higher division or tier than your own team.
This presents a learning experience for both you and your child. Look, you're at the field anyway right? After your child's game is over, stay for the next one. This proves to be a beneficial way when trying to gage where your child fits developmentally with their soccer peers. A question that is presented to me by many families is, "how do I know what collegiate division is potentially a good fit for my child?" Take a look at what is happening around you during these tournaments. Pay close attention to the athletes that play the same position as your child. How does their size/height compare? Speed? What are some things that this player is doing better than your child? What are some things that your child is doing better? This is all important content and information that will help you down the road--if you can be objective.
5) Make Peace with that High School Coach.
A lot of high school coaches are faced with the pressures of having to put together a successful combination of players in a short period of time. Because there is usually a disparity in talent among a high school team (not everyone trying out has had access to private trainers, elite and select teams, or isolated coaching), coaches are faced with sometimes choosing physical over technical players, or putting players in foreign positions with the hope of yielding positive results. I recognize that could mean that your child didn't make Varsity this year, or the starting 11 for that matter. Perhaps it meant that your child was put on wing even though it is clear as day that she is a forward. Listen, cut that coach a break. You will need him or her more than you will know. If your child grabs the interest of any college coach, your high school coach is most likely the first person that will be called.