September 1st has come and gone and we are now into October and November, the months of prospect days and showcases. So what does a player do? How can you catch the eye of a college coach? How do you make yourself stand out among the many players? Here are some simple yet necessary steps.
1. Focus on what you can control- Effort, attitude, sportsmanship, and having fun.
a) Everyone plays better when they are having fun.
b) You can’t control if people pass you the ball, but you can control you effort: hustle after every fifty-fifty ball, be the good teammate who makes the right pass, congratulate your teammates and opponents for a great play or effort, and be positive.
2. Be present: arrive in plenty of time to get yourself used to your surroundings. Be prepared to warm up and stretch on your own (ask at arrival if the group does a stretch/warm-up or if you need to do it yourself) and introduce yourself to some other players to warm up with.
3. Use your time at the prospect day (or camp/clinic) to demonstrate how “coachable” you are. Try doing things the way the coach has explained, not just the way you always do it. Ask questions to show you are engaged. Be willing to fail and learn from your mistakes.
4. Thank your coaches after each station and at the end of day. Write a real thank you note, not just an email, if you really want to stand out from the crowd. Emails are easy, coaches get tons each day, so why not be different?
5. Showcases: Again, focus on what you can control! Play fast and play hard. Don’t rest on the field, you need to go 100% every minute you are on the field, off-ball, on-ball, and with the ball – always be moving at 100%. Shifts at tournaments can be short (as little as 3 minutes), so make the most of it. In your three minute shift you may not see the ball... what are you doing to make yourself stand out? Are you encouraging teammates? Are you picking up your teammates after giving up a goal? Are you congratulating your teammates after your team scores a goal? Don’t forget sideline behavior... the coaches are watching this as well.
6. How else can you stand out? Be sure to write to coaches well in advance of an event. Like you, they need time to plan. Two days before an event is not helpful for them to schedule a time to watch you. Include your club team, uniform number (if you have a picture in your uniform include it), schedule and any identifying characteristics, like “I play with green shoelaces,” or “pink cleats.”
7. Remind your parents that they are part of your recruiting process, and the coaches observe their behavior too. College coaches don’t want to recruit players if they think their parents will be a negative presence on the sidelines.
8. Have fun and enjoy the time spent with your parents and friends. The recruiting window is really small, but the relationships you make while going through the process last a lifetime.
9. Keep in mind that no one graduates with a degree in lacrosse, but lacrosse can be a significant part of your college experience. If you find the right academic fit, you will set yourself up for success, on and off the field.