3 Key Soccer Mentalities: What Coaches Want

Whilst technical ability is crucial to being a good player, mentality is often overlooked and undervalued by many young players. As they recruit players to their programs, coaches will explore a player’s mentality by watching them on and off the field and through general conversations. But what are they looking for? Three common factors have been raised over and over again by coaches of what they look for in players.

1. Winning mentality

The first key mentality factor coaches want to see is if you have a winning mentality. This centers around the question: how much do you want to win? They want to see that you are willing to battle for your teammates and often put the team’s priorities ahead of your own.  They want to see that you are passionate about winning and commit as much effort as possible to win in training and matches.

2. Coachability/desire to improve

The second key mentality factor is coachability and desire to improve. Coaches want to see that you want to improve as a player and a person. Players who embrace the idea of continual development often have a better chance of a successful college career as they can adapt to the immanent bumps that will arise along the road. Coachability also applies outside of personal development. Can you be coached and buy into a system that the team plays? Can you embrace a new role in the team that you may not have played before? Are you interested to learn more about the position you are playing? Do you ask questions about your personal performance and about team performances? All of these questions are important things you should be considering in order to be a coachable player.

3. Ability to accept criticism

The third key mentality is ability to accept criticism. Unlike club team where you are in a familiar surrounding with a coach who perhaps favors you or has coached you for a long time, college coaches have 20+ other players like yourself they have to worry about. Inevitably you will be criticized by team mates who often are vastly experienced themselves and will be criticized by coaches. Be ready and willing to embrace criticism. Coaches expect you to be mature enough to be criticized without it affecting your performances. If you are able to take criticism and turn that into a learning opportunity to get better and not let that criticism affect your performance then you will be an a much better position to reach the starting 11 but more importantly enjoy your college career.

These are three key mentalities that college coaches have found imperative to success in college soccer. There are many more to choose from but if you can master these three then you will be in a very strong position to have an enjoyable and successful college career.

 

Understanding Financial Aid Packages

It is important for students and their parents to understand how financial aid works for student-athletes.  Each NCAA Division level is governed by its own set of rules.  During the recruiting process, college coaches may ask for CSS Profiles/FAFSA before offering athletic scholarships.  Below is a brief summary of the main differences and a link to more detailed information from the NCAA. 

Athletic Scholarships:  Athletic scholarships are awarded by institution based on the merit of the performance of the individual.  All Division I and II soccer programs are classified as "equivalency" sports, meaning that the NCAA restricts the total financial aid that a school can offer in a given sport to the equivalent of a set number of full scholarships.   

Division I:  Soccer teams can separate the scholarship awards between the roster up and till a maximum of 9.9 for the men and 14.0 for the women.  Coaches are allowed to award anywhere from 1%-100% for any individual student-athlete.  

Division II:  Soccer teams can separate the scholarship awards between the roster up and till a maximum of 9.0 for the men and 9.9 for the women.  Coaches are allowed to award anywhere from 1%-100% for any individual student-athlete.   

Division III:  The NCAA limits Division III teams to no athletic scholarships.  If you qualify for merit or need-based aid, you can qualify for financial aid.  The NCAA also require Div. III schools to show how much aid they give to athletes on sports teams. 

Need-Based Aid
Student need-based aid is related to the need of the family after completing either the CSS Profile and/or FAFSA forms.   Need-based aid is awarded on the student/family financial need.  When financial aid is determined through need-based aid, an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is determined.  Universities will work towards maximizing this aid gap.  It has often been noted that filling this financial gap, is maximized when the student has higher SAT or ACT scores.

Merit-Based Aid
Merit-based scholarships and grants are awards from educational institutions and organizations.  This aid usually comes from outstanding academic achievements in high schools grades and/or outstanding SAT or ACT scores.  Sometimes merit-based aid is awarded to students by such organizations as local club, Boy Scouts, YMCA etc.  Merit-based grants do not need to be repaid.  Athletic based scholarships are also a form of merit-based aid.

How are athletic scholarships combined with need-based and merit-based aid?  
It is possible at Division I and II schools to combine merit-based aid with athletic scholarships up to the need-based financial aid eligibility limit.  There are some limitations with combining need-based aid with athletic scholarships. 

For more information, visit NCAA's Scholarship page.

Hydration: Why is it important for performance?

Don't wait to hydrate until your feel thirsty!  If your thirst mechanism is triggered, you are already showing signs of dehydration.  Optimize your sports performance by following a hydration plan and make adjusts based on factors such as weather and exertion. 

Dehydration can lead to:

·      ↓ Muscle Strength

·      ↓ Speed and Stamina

·      ↓ Energy

·      ↑ Risk for injury

Avoiding all these negative effects can be the difference between winning, losing and staying healthy. Therefore, it is vital to rehydrate before, during and after practicing or playing games. 

When should I rehydrate?
Before workouts:

·      Close to practice/competition you should be consuming liquid calories, such as, Sports drinks

·      2-3 hours before training, consume 17 ounces of fluids

·      8oz (1cup) immediately prior to competition or practice

During workouts:

·      2-4 cups (16-32oz) of sports drinks per hour (ideally) or

·      1 cup (8oz) every 15-20mins

·      If the practice or competition is longer than an hour try to consume carbohydrates as you hydrate

o   Sports drinks are the ideal method rather than trying to eat foods

Post-Workouts:

·      Aim to start hydrating immediately after practice/competition or at least within 30 minutes post-practice/competition

·      Consume at least 24oz for every pound lost from training or exercise.
 

Over hydration

·      The recommendations above are guidelines and should be used as such. Each individual will be different

·      To avoid over hydration do not drink more than you sweat

·      Try to drink sports drinks because they contain some sodium and carbohydrates

 

Sources: Boston University Sargent Choice Nutrition Center: Nutrition Advisers for Boston University Men’s Soccer.

Villanova University Nutrition Center- http://www1.villanova.edu/content/dam/villanova/studentlife/documents/healthpromotion/Hydration%20guideline%20for%20athletes.pdf

College Visits: Questions posed by prospective student-athletes

  1. When should I take a college visit?  You should start to organize unofficial visits beginning in your sophomore year of high school.  Ideally, visits should be scheduled during a time of year when the team is training so you have the opportunity to watch a training session or game.
     
  2. Should I contact the coach prior to my visit?  You should always contact the coach ahead of time. One of the main reasons for a college visit should be to interact with the coaching staff and gain exposure.  Otherwise the campus visit is worthless in regards making connections with the coaching staff. 
     
  3. How and when should I contact coach regarding a visit?  Consider reaching out to the staff with a hand written note several weeks or more in advance.  A handwritten note may be helpful in capturing the attention of coaches who are often overwhelmed by email correspondence.  Coaches often do not have the time to respond to every email and that means you can get lost in the shuffle.  After sending a handwritten note, you can call the office to introduce yourself and then follow it up with an email organizing a time to meet on campus. Your email should include a player resume and link to a highlight video if available.  (See our Freebies page for a template resume).
     
  4. What can I expect to happen on a visit (unofficial/official)?  The nature of unofficial visits depends mainly on whether the visit is organized by the coach (in the event they are actively recruiting you) or the prospect who is initiating contact.

    If a coach is organizing the visit the following may take place:  campus tour led by coaching staff, overnight accommodations in a dormitory of a current student athlete, visit to college class with current student athletes, opportunity to watch a training session, meeting with academic support and/or academic departments of interest, and discussions with the coaching staff on financial aid, academic fit, acceptance standards and your potential role on the team. 

    If the prospective student athlete is initiating the contact, the following may take place: campus tour through admissions office and meeting with coaching staff to discuss the program (if pre-organized or the staff happens to be available).  If the team is training on the day of your visit, you may be able to attend a training session if you have asked permission of the coaching staff beforehand.  If you do have the opportunity to meet the opportunity to meet with the coaching staff, ask questions about the recruiting needs of the program (number of players being recruited to your class and recruited positions.  You also want to use this opportunity to discuss whether the coaches have watched you play (at a tournament or by viewing your highlight video) and see if you can coordinate a future event where the coach may be able to watch you play. 
     
  5. How can I maximize my visit?   Make sure to plan in advance.  Visit the school’s website and pre-book a campus tour.  Coordinate a time to meet the coaching staff beforehand and hand deliver your player resume and highlight video if they don’t already have hard copies.  If possible and with the permission of a coaching staff, watch a training session while you are on campus. 
     

WARNING:  Remember that the coaching staff is evaluating you while you are on campus.  They are interested in learning about your demeanor and interest in their school.  They are also looking to see how you interact with your parents and whether you appear respectful and are enjoyable to be around. 

Improve Your Game with Goal Setting

What is Goal Setting?

Goal setting is identifying what you want to accomplish and making a measurable and timely plan to achieve that goal. When creating goals you need to ensure that you can identify steps to achieve your main goal. Setting goals and plans to achieve them can increase and maintain motivation and break down large tasks into more manageable steps.

Why is it important?

Goal Setting is important to provide long-term vision and short-term motivation. Furthermore, goal setting allows you to focus your time and resources to help achieve your aspirations. All high level soccer players set goals. Goals can be how many goals you want to score to how many shutouts you want that season. Whatever your goal, it is important to make sure your goals are measurable. A goal that says I want to give 100% in each game is hard to measure and then hard to maintain over a season. 

Another key point is that make sure your goals are challenging, and not really easy to achieve. You want your goals to push you to be a better player. Using the SMART goal framework is one of the simplest ways to set goals.

Below is a link to the University of California San Diego SMART goal sheet that walks you through how to set goals.

http://trio.ucsd.edu/_files/staff_forms/SMART%20goal%20setting%20sheet