What College Coaches are Actually Thinking at Showcases and Tournaments

As the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at Franklin & Marshall College, I found myself this past weekend sitting on a cold soccer field in South Jersey (That is Southern New Jersey for those from out of the region!). Odds are you were on a soccer field somewhere.

Players playing, club coaches coaching, officials making everyone angry all under the watchful eye of a line of Adidas clad college coaches.

So what are those college coaches looking for? What are they writing down? What is the big secret?

Here are a few observations. Let’s start with the obvious.

The crazy talented kids are really easy to spot. We all know who they are and we all write them down. You know exactly of whom I speak. Freakishly big, faster than everyone, scoring hat-tricks, not looking like they are trying. These kids do exist. I watched a player from Philadelphia score a hat-trick in his High School State Final after scoring 50+ goals in the hardest league in the state. Of course, that player is already going to a DI School.

So if those players are off the board, what is everyone looking for? When you get beyond the stuff that even grandma can identity, you get into the intangibles. Let me mention a few, some positive, some negative, that I noticed this weekend.

  1. I watched a player get tackled in the box, fall down and roll around like he was shot. He was screaming and moaning. I was moving my little chair in preparation for the ambulance to get through. And then the miracle, the player stood up, yelled at the official and just started running around like he was fine. Verdict- I don’t want that player.. Cross him out of my little book.
  2. I watched a winger from STA furiously track back to press the ball. It was impressive to see the veracity for which he worked when he DID NOT HAVE the ball. This caught my attention so I paid more attention. Guess what.. He gets written down in the book.
  3. I watched a little guy from AJAX in Canada check back in the midfield and look over his shoulder 3 times. It was clear that his Centerbacks loved playing him the ball as they trusted he would never give it away. This player was not big enough or athletic enough for us, but he could run our midfield. I wrote that kid down.
  4. I watched a Centerback from Washington Township constantly organizing his line when the opponent was in possession. He would move them up 5 yards, back 5 yards, left and right, calmly and confidently organizing his team. He did not even touch the ball that often, but he could play and he knew what to do when he DID NOT HAVE the ball.
  5. I watched a forward come deep to defend a corner kick. He cleared the ball and sprinted 30 yards to press the ball from being played back in. He then stripped the ball from the opponents CB, dribbled 50 yards and scored the game winner. What heart, determination and grit. Of course, I wrote that player down.
  6. I watched another forward standing at the midline stripe as his team defended. That player constantly moved, ever so subtly, adjusting his hips and positioning so he could be in the optimal position to counterattack and not be offsides. I wrote down that player.
  7. I watched another high-profile player (this is a true story, but from a month ago) rip his teammate because he did not play him a perfect pass. I then watched him slowly gallop around as the rest of his team ran their tales off. Admittedly the kid is incredible with the ball.. But I quickly crossed him off the list.

I hope my email gives you some food for thought as you continue to run the gauntlet of College Showcases. If you have any questions about Franklin & Marshall Men’s Soccer feel free to visit out website at www.dipsoccer.com, or contact our First Assistant and Director of Recruiting Donnie Spangler at [email protected]. Best of luck to you in your upcoming matches!

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