The preferred way for coaches to evaluate recruits is to observe them in person at club tournaments, but that doesn’t mean they will have an opportunity to see every recruit who’s on their radar compete in person. That’s where a well-done recruiting video can play a big role. The video will serve two key purposes: Provide coaches with a way to make their initial evaluation of an athlete, and if the coach cannot see them compete in person, the video might be the only way that coaches will get to see a recruit play. Here’s how it typically works:
- In initial communications with college coaches, student-athletes should always include their recruiting video. This video should really focus on in-game action. Coaches want to see how athletes move in the game and what their ability to make plays is.
- If the coach liked what they saw in the initial video, they will likely reach out to schedule a time to evaluate the athlete in person.
In this article, we focus on what athletes need to include in the initial highlight video that they’ll be sending around to college coaches. There are specific skills to showcase and different techniques to use to ensure athletes are making the best first impression.
Where to get highlight video footage?
In general, college coaches want to know how athletes respond in a game, so they’d prefer to see game footage over practice footage. Most coaches want to observe how athletes see the pitch—they need to judge their decision-making and skills. Think about it: If a college coach isn’t going to have the opportunity to watch someone play in person, what’s the best way for an athlete to showcase their talent as a men’s soccer player? It’s showing their best game footage.
College soccer recruiting video tips
- In order to get the best perspective, the video should be shot from a higher vantage point, at least several feet from the ground.
- A tripod is highly recommended to help stabilize the footage. Tripods are available for tablets and smartphones.
- When shooting video with a phone or tablet, shoot the footage in landscape format.
- Do not zoom in and out. Zooming in a little bit is OK when filming from the other side of the field.
- Don’t lose track of the ball.
- The wider the angle, the better. A wider view allows coaches to see the progression of each play, as well as athletes making the right choices and completing their passes.
- Imagine the field separated into thirds (offensive, middle, defensive). When the ball is in one of the thirds, film that entire section.
- Show enough of the field so that coaches are able to see the player’s vision, how the athlete runs with and without the ball, the athlete’s use of space, combinations with teammates, etc.
- Coaches also want to see foot skills and technical abilities, so do not lose focus on the primary player being recorded.
How long should a soccer recruiting video be?
The recruiting video should be 3–6 minutes long and include 20–25 clips of game action for field players. Any longer, and it will run the risk of having the coach lose interest. Position players should create a men’s soccer highlight video with game footage. Goalies should create a men’s soccer skills video that’s supplemented with game footage and highlights.
- Defending: 1v1, small groups, crosses and corners in the air, chasing down players, blocking shots
- Intercepting, running forward and getting into the attack
- Showing timing, defensive shape, technical abilities, a clean first touch
- Keeping possession with your distribution
- Wings: making runs forward
- Both sides of the ball: blocking passing lanes and getting into the attack
- Reading the game with off-the-ball movement
- Working hard defensively
- Beating opponents down the line and turning the corner
- Crossing the ball, preferably with both feet
- Playing 18 to 18 with a good engine
- Making well-timed and creative runs
- Showing change of pace
- Staying consistent and reliable
- Winning all balls in the air and distributing them to teammates
- Clogging up the middle and disrupting opponents’ attacks
- Clean first touch
- Playmaking ability
- Showing technical control in tight spaces
- Speed of play
- Clean first touch
- Goals and assists
- Getting behind the back line
- Dribbling, combining and timing runs
- Finishing with multiple surfaces
- Getting on the end of corner kicks and crosses and put them on frame
- Reading the play to know when your teammate is about to win the ball and check back into space to be an outlet pass
- Playing back to goal and playing others in
- Skills footage and match footage; highlight skills that weren’t shown in match footage
- Shot stopping
- Extension and collapse diving to both sides, preferably in a variety of situations
- Collecting, parrying and boxing
- Breakaways, angle play and sliding saves
- Distribution: back passes, punts, drop kicks, throws, rolls
- Punting: follow the ball when filming to see the distance
- Goal kicks
- Showing footwork throughout the video
Editing tips, how to pick the right plays
Once the footage is shot, the next step is to edit it down to the best 3–6 minutes, which includes 20–25 game clips for field players. Start the video off strong with big highlight plays. Recruits have about 30 seconds to make an impression on the coach, so pick opening plays or skills that will leave an impression. From there, make sure to add in other key skills that college coaches want to see. The goal is to get coaches hooked in the first 30 seconds, so they continue watching the video to see the depth of the skillset. During the video, athletes can distinguish who they are in each play by using a simple arrow, a circle, a spotlight—something clean and simple to alert the coach who they should be watching.
Remember that every touch and play doesn’t have to be perfect. Coaches are also interested in how players adjust to imperfect situations. Recruits should also include their contact information (name, email and phone number) and their coach’s contact information (name, email and phone number) at the beginning and end of their recruiting video.