The money has been paid, the work put in, the sunscreen applied, the whistle blown. It’s game time in the summer as college coaches line the side of the field with ipads, laptops and notebooks. You wrote your favorite school several times hoping they would come see you play, and as you look over, there they are! Eyes are on you.
Here’s the thing, its not uncommon to worry and stress about what you do with the ball when you get it to grab that coach’s attention. But there’s a good chance in the few minutes they have to watch you, you won’t touch the ball. All that prep work, and you can’t even show the coach what you can do. Frustration sets in, and you begin to do things you wouldn’t normally do to try to get the ball, keep the ball, and play in a way that doesn’t help the team at all. Mentally you’re shook, things are falling apart. The coach is getting up to leave already?? Did you miss your shot?
This is exactly why you have to learn, and why club coaches must teach, the art of getting off-ball recruited. Here’s a list of 10 things you can do to show you’re an “off-ball” asset.
- Keep your head up and communicate clearly and loudly to your teammates.
- Hustle until you’re at the sideline, restraining line or on and off the field as a sub, and I mean hustle like a bear is chasing you. Speed is an asset, show it off repeatedly.
- Move to make space immediately after passing the ball.
- Cut, cut and repeat. Keep going until that ball is moved and then be a trail or an outlet.
- Cover your opponent who doesn’t have the ball with the same intensity and focus as you would mark the ball carrier.
- Smile 🙂 Do you love to play in this heat OR WHAT???
- Cheer on the sidelines and attentively watch the game so you know what’s going on.
- Don’t give up, if you get beat then recover quickly and keep moving, dont foul out of frustration and watch your tone and language when things get sticky
- If you’re sidelined, make sure your travel coach knows the coach you asked to watch you is present so they can get you in the game.
- Sharks can’t survive if they stop swimming (is that even true? Im not sure, lol) BUT this goes for your recruiting chances as well. Keep moving on the field, finding space, communicating, setting others up, getting out of the lane, and work. Work ethic is worth a thousand more points than that BTB shot someone took to impress a coach. A stick on the shoulder or dragging on the ground off ball is almost always an automatic no from me…
And have fun. Your travel ball memories will be some of the best in your life. The right school will find you, you will find it. Don’t get lost in the details, a good coach can and will teach you skills you need to get better. Show them the things that they can’t teach as easily – like effort, athleticism – strength and speed, positivity, resilience, quick thinking and reaction, anticipation, hustle, confidence, and love of the game.
Have an amazing summer!