When should I start the recruiting process?

In the minds of young high schoolers aspiring to play in college, one of the most nerve-racking thoughts can be the unclear recruitment timeline. While there is no cookie cutter template regarding the timing of this process, here are a few simple steps and guidelines along the way that should provide some clarity:

  • Middle School –

While the thought of playing college soccer isn’t usually a focal point, it doesn’t mean that this isn’t a crucial time to prepare. For many, it is a crossroad that forces players to hone in on only one sport fulltime. It is important to figure out which club or high school could provide the most opportunity for player development and college exposure, all the while adhering to your style of play and academic goals. This helps strengthen the foundation for what is to come next.

  • Freshmen Year –

It is unlikely that college coaches are seriously targeting freshmen unless they happen to be one of the best players in the country, such as a national team player. However, this is a great opportunity for talented youngsters to stand out among older players at college ID camps or by playing up in age through their club. Coaches could take note of this and track you in the years to come when recruiting becomes more prominent. It is never too early to showcase your ability to coaches

  • Sophomore Year –

Towards the end of sophomore year is when high caliber youth teams/players begin to get noticed by coaches. Many of the elite tournaments and league playoffs occur in the spring/summer months, which is the most active time for coaches to venture the country in search of recruits. It is crucial that you develop a player bio earlier in the year so that when coaches do happen to come watch, you are prepared to get your info out there. For a player who wants to play in college, but might not be playing in some of the higher caliber tournaments the summer following their sophomore year (DA showcase/playoff, Dallas Cup, Regional Championships, Surf Cup, Jefferson Cup, etc.), ID camps are a great way to get noticed. It is less likely that many players commit before junior year, but this is the time when you can begin to grab serious attention from top colleges, which helps lead to an offer thereafter.

  • Junior Year --

Throughout junior year, college coaches will make offers to players who they presume to be the strongest in that class. Another important factor is the SAT score a player gets. Better students have an easier time getting recruited early on whereas some players won’t get an offer until the coach is confident they will be admitted to the school. This year is likely the time when scholarship money is given out, too. It really depends on when the majority of your games/tournaments are set to take place because many coaches will make you an offer somewhere between 2 weeks to 2 months after seeing you for the final time. This time frame depends of course on who else they are currently considering, how much money they have available, how many commits they currently have, and most importantly how much you have impressed them over time.

  • Senior Year --

While many players commit before their senior year begins, it does not mean coaches aren’t still looking for players, especially for D2 and D3 schools. Even a large number of D1 recruits commit in their senior year whether it be from having a standout high season or shining in tournaments like the Disney Showcase or National League in December. Obviously everyone wants to commit as soon as possible, but sometimes waiting until senior year helps players find a college that best aligns with what they aim to do academically/socially in college. These are factors that shouldn’t be underestimated because the most important key to success in college soccer is enjoying and owning the environment you are in.

  • Program Variation –

The timeline discussed above relates to the majority of college programs, but if you are aiming to play at one of the notorious powerhouses, such as those in the ACC or Pac12, it may differ. These programs have name recognition so are being bombarded with emails from players around the world who are aspiring to play there. With interest like this, it makes it easier for coaches to recruit players at younger ages, meaning they can confidently offer scholarships to freshmen or sophomores. In contrast, less notable programs would likely hesitate to commit players this young because of how much can change in 3 years. Other coaches, such as those in the Ivy League and Patriot League, recruit later because of the rigorous academic standards set by their admission office. It is nearly impossible to commit a player before they have seen SAT/ACT scores and high GPAs.

A Parent’s Guide to Communicating With Coaches

It is important for parents to be involved with the recruiting process but parents must not be overbearing.  The prospect should be the primary point of contact – coaches are recruiting prospects, not parents.  Coaches want to learn about the prospect and the prospect needs to be able to independently demonstrate that he/she is interested in the school and soccer program.  Parents must allow the prospect to communicate with the coach and develop a rapport.  The biggest mistake parents make, is not allowing the prospect to engage with the coach.

  • Phone Calls – Parents should help with the planning of making phone calls and documenting outgoing and incoming calls.  Parents can help prospects by rehearsing outgoing calls.   Parents can also help draw out a calendar to schedule outgoing calls and document incoming calls.  This will allow both parents and prospects to keep an eye on frequency of phone calls. 
  • Text/Instant Message – We recommend that parents do not use text or instant message with coaches.  Prospects can communicate with text/instant message with any relevant questions and immediate follow-ups for questions that cannot wait until the next phone call. 
  • Email – Review the materials the prospect is sending, but let the emails come from the prospect's accounts.  It is recommended to copy parents on all emails.  Parents should be aware of developments and the process.  If parents help draft email communication, make sure it is in the voice of the prospect.  Coaches have a sense when parents are sending emails as a ghost writer.  Sending mass emails before or after tournaments is the quickest way to get your child out of a recruiting class!
  • Recruiting Materials – Parents can research ways to effectively put together cover letters, resumes, YouTube highlights etc for the prospect.  Parents can help proof these documents.  Visit our Freebies page for templates.
  • Final Decisions/Money Matters – Parents need to be involved in the recruiting process when final decisions and money matters are being discussed.  Unless the conversation is purely financial, make sure the prospect in part of it!

Register today for Collegiate Soccer Camps and get first hand guidance from college coaches.

Helpful Links
A Parents role in the recruiting process 
Bleacher report- The Role of the Parent
Guiding parents through the recruiting process

How to contact college soccer coaches- A Student-Athlete perspective

College coaches recruiting at sideline at college soccer camp in Newton, MA

Taking the initiative and reaching out to a college coach for the first time can be a daunting task. One of the first things to keep in mind is that while college coaches are very busy, there is a good chance that they will see your efforts to get in touch.

College coaches always have potential student-athletes trying to get in touch with them, so it is important to be persistent in displaying your interest. Obviously, there is a fine line between persistent and annoying, but coaches are human beings just like you and appreciate the effort. As a student-athlete, you’ll stand out with a few emails and maybe a phone call or two. Most coaches have their emails and even their phone numbers on school websites. Unless you’re the next up and coming superstar, you’re going to have to do more than sending one email or leaving one voice message displaying your interest. When reaching out, it is always better to be thorough as well. Address the email or phone call the specific coach at each school of interest. Simply writing/saying “Dear Coach,” doesn’t signify how interested you are because you could be talking to any coach. In addition to specifically addressing the coach you’re speaking to, make sure to have your, club, jersey number, upcoming games/tournament times, and contact information in every email so that Coach can keep in touch with you.

Another way to demonstrate your interest is to reach out to admissions. Having the grades and enough extracurriculars is also important when looking at schools. If your GPA is too low, admissions will be your be your biggest obstacle. Admissions contact information is also simple to find on any schools information. Researching the necessary GPA and standardized test scores to be admitted can help keep you on track academically. Coaches will always be more inclined to recruit athletes that meet the academic standards of their schools as well.

You may also be interested in:
A Parents Guide to Communicating with College Coaches
Top 10 Questions to Ask a College Coach
Student-Athletes:  What College Program is Right for You?

Top Ten Questions to Ask a College Coach


If you are considering playing soccer in college, we recommend you reach out to prospective programs as part of your college search. Here are some recommended questions.

Q1. How many players have you committed to my recruiting class?  And how many are you hoping to commit?
You need to make sure that the soccer programs you are pursuing are still recruiting prospects for your class. Keep in mind that although a soccer program may be done recruiting scholarship players, there may still be openings on the roster for recruited walk-ons.

Q2. How do my scores (GPA, SAT) weigh up to the general admittance requirements of your college?
You don't want to waste your time talking with a coach if you don't have a chance of being admitted to his/her school.  Some colleges/universities allow athletic programs to admit students with lower scores than the average student while some do not.  Coaches can request (and often do) a pre-admittance read of your transcript/scores to determine if you are likely to be admitted to the school.

Q3. Does the school have the major I want or are there a variety of potential majors?
Some prospects are entertaining schools because of the strength of the athletic program and a chance to play in the professional ranks. The majority of prospects, however, are combining academic pursuits and athletic performance.  Make sure the school offers either the program you require or a degree that facilities your needs.  Keep in mind that nationwide, approximately 50% of college students change majors at least once before college graduation. Make sure the school has a great variety of majors just in case.

Q4. How many of your seniors are graduating this year and what are their positions?  How about juniors?
Knowing this information will help you understand the likelihood of playing in your first two years. For example, if you are a forward and the school is graduating forwards in the next two years, you may have a high likelihood of playing straightaway.  On the other hand, if program is not graduating forwards, you may find yourself on the bench or redshirted?  Check out the program’s roster online and see for yourself.

Q5. What is your program's style of play and how do you see me fitting in?
It's important to know if your abilities fit into the schools style of play.  Prospects should know if you are going to play in a similar role or are the college coaches expecting you to play in a different role or position.  You may want to also ask if the system of play may change in the near future.  Also, you may be able to stream some live games off the athletic program’s website.  Many athletic programs offer live streaming for free.  This is a great way to see firsthand if you could fit into their style of play.

Q6. Which events will you recruit this season/year?
By knowing the coach's schedule, you can make sure to get all your information (resume, club name & squad number, game times, etc.) to the coaches ahead of time.   You may even be able to influence your club manager or coach to register for a particular event where this coach will be present.

Q7. Would you like me to send you updates to our schedule before and during the events, if you are recruiting the event?
In the weeks leading up to an event, coaches are preparing the recruiting schedule for the event.   That means that prospects have to get the schedules, squad numbers, times of games and field locations to the coach early.  Do not overwhelm the coach, but make sure that you get the information to the coach in a timely fashion.  If you send your information to the coach the last few days before the event, the likelihood that you get onto the recruiting schedule is not good.  You can send a coach update emails from the venue of your games and confirm that you will be playing in the next game.

Q8. What is your graduation rate for your program?
A low graduation rate might reflect a high rate of transfers or a lack of student support services.  Be wary of a program with a high rate of transfers, as this may be an indication that players are unhappy with the program.

Q9. How do you decide if a player is to be redshirted during the course of a season?
Some players are recruited because the coaches see the prospect playing minutes straightaway. Some players show potential and the coaches feel they will offer more in the years to come. Some coaches decide at the start of the year who will redshirt the season, while others wait until the season is under way.  Redshirting is sometimes a good idea as prospects may play more towards the latter end of their playing careers.

Q10. How are financial aid, academic aid and scholarship aid earned and/or distributed among recruits and the team?
Financial aid packages can consist of athletic scholarships, academic scholarships, and/or need-based financial aid.  It is important to understanding how this will come together and whether these numbers may change over the four years.  Some programs will increase soccer scholarships if the player performs well during the four years.