Player Portrait: Defining a College Level Soccer Recruit

I hope this email finds you well and not too frozen as we trudge through a cold and snowy start to the winter here at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. At the start of every year I like to send a new email series to help prospective college soccer players navigate the process of going from high school and club soccer to the right college fit for them. In past years I have written on recruiting topics such as:

We as a program have also written on soccer specific topics such as:

This year I want to focus on what we as a staff look for in a prospective player when we evaluate players and form our recruiting classes. About a month ago, Head Coach Dan Wagner wrote on “What College Coaches are actually thinking at showcases and tournaments”. If you missed the email or would like to see it again, click here.

To build on that email we are going to send out an email each Wednesday that outlines what we look for in a player by position. Although each coaching staff may look for slightly different things in a player to fit their program needs, I believe these emails will give you a good idea of what a typical college coach will be looking for when they come to see you play. Below are the positions we plan to cover.

  • January 17th: What we look for in forwards and attacking players
  • January 24th: What we look for in midfielders (specifically centermids)
  • January 31st: What we look for in defenders
  • February 7th: What we look for in goalkeepers

Of course there are also general traits we like to see in all players despite the position they primarily play. Specifically there are two things we notice.

  1. Turning: An emphasis in our program is getting our players to get their hips facing forward so we can play in the opposing team’s half. To do this we need our players to receive a ball and quickly turn up field. There are however two distinct ways we want them to do this. First, if there is no defender on their back we look for players to “half-turn”. To half-turn effectively, players need to NOT stop the ball, but instead open their hips and slow the ball down while allowing it to stay on the same path it was traveling. This way, the player is under control with a ball at their foot running at the opposing team. Second, if there is a defender on their back we look for players to make body contact and lean on the defender while turning the ball with the inside or outside of the front foot. By doing this they are using the defender’s pressure against them by keeping their body between the defender and the ball and still getting their hips facing forward to move upfield.
  2. Not Showing The Ball: Another thing we like to see in all players is the ability to not show the ball to the defender. This ability is most evident when a player passes a ball or cuts. When passing a ball, we teach our players that they should be able to shield with one arm while passing with the opposite foot. This makes it impossible for a defender to get their foot in to disrupt the pass. When cutting a ball, we teach our players that their body should always be between the defender and the ball. Many players we watch will cut with the inside of their foot in front of their body which leaves the ball exposed. We look for players to put an arm into a defender and cruyff the ball which allows the ball to stay under control but completely shielded from the defender.

So much emphasis in soccer is placed on possession and by doing these two habits we have found that we have become a much better possession team.