What Do College Coaches Actually Look For?

By Alex Schultz, Women’s Assistant Soccer Coach (Regis University)

“Technical. Athletic. Smart. Good grades. Team Player. Good attitude.”

Have you ever heard a college coach say they want these qualities in a player? They seem to be the go-to answer for college coaches. It’s always the number one question that I am asked from recruits and parents; what are you looking for in a player? Coaches will always give a vague and cliché answer that never really gets to the point. The plain simple truth is that every coach wants something different. A coach is recruiting a specific position, for a specific class, and for a specific reason.

For example, you might be a really dynamic, technical, and fast forward but the coach needs a true target forward to hold the ball up. This is why it is so critical that recruits watch as much college soccer as possible. You need to see different styles of play at different levels. Then after watching your top choices play, you can have a better understanding of what college coaches are actually looking for. Almost every college at every level streams their matches now, so no excuses!

Every team is different. Every coach wants something different. So be different!

To play soccer at the collegiate level, you need to have a solid foundation of all four dimensions of the game (technical, tactical, mental, physical).  Once you’ve established proficiency in all of these dimensions, focus on what makes you different. Focus on what will make you stand out in a showcase or ID clinic. Are you a big, tall center back who can win every ball in the air? Are you a speedy winger who loves to take defenders 1v1? Are you a target forward with a knack for scoring goals? Are you the hardest working player on the pitch? Whatever makes you different; showcase those talents to college coaches because we are all looking for something different! You will only find out those answers if you ask better questions.

Better questions to ask college coaches:

·      What style of play does your team enjoy? Possession? Direct? Counter-attack?

·      How do my qualities fit into your system and style of play?

·      Is there anything about my play that you are hesitant about, within your system?