Want to make a good impression with a college coach? Your social media presence is important.
The information age has given high school students the ability to form opinions about colleges before ever stepping on a campus for a visit. But they’re not the only ones using the Internet to gather useful information.
College coaches now have a much quicker and convenient way to form a first impression of a potential recruit’s character — through social media.
For some young players, that may not be a good thing. In a US Youth Soccer survey of college coaches, 322 coaches said they check social media profiles of potential recruits, and 89 percent of those coaches said a player’s social media presence has negatively affected how they view that player.
Clemson men’s soccer head coach Mike Noonan said his coaching staff regularly uses social media, and he said “without question” coaches can find out a player’s personality by his or her social media habits.
“You don’t want to read too much into social media because it’s more about information than it is a character analyzation of the player. But if someone posts things that are inappropriate, that tells you a lot about whether you want to recruit the player or not,” Noonan said. “If someone is being critical of a teammate, coach, referee or situation on social media, that may be suggesting some potential problems down the road.”
Noonan couldn’t give specifics of any situation, but he said he has been one of those coaches who has seen something posted on social media that negatively affected the way he viewed a recruit.
The prevalence of young athletes harming their image on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms has led to websites like SocialStudentAthletes.com, which provides blog posts teaching students such lessons as “5 Easy Steps to Killing Your Recruiting Chances with Social Media.” The website acknowledges college coaches’ use of social media and lists social media practices for high school athletes to avoid.
In Noonan’s mind, recruits simply need to do a little thinking before posting something on their profiles.
“They should avoid putting out things that are socially unacceptable, whether it’s language, situations involving alcohol or lifestyle issues that are controversial,” Noonan said. “It’s a common sense type of thing. The general rule we’ve always used is: ‘If it’s something you want a future employer or your parents to know, that’s your barometer for what to post.’”
While a lot of discussion focuses on what to avoid doing on social media, Noonan said there are ways for recruits to help their cause through their online presence.
Simple updates on games, schedules, what schools a player is visiting, and other soccer events provide college coaches with useful information. Noonan said if a player is part of a Youth National Team, a synopses of a game and how he or she played will help generate interest from coaches who are following the player.
“They should use social media to promote themselves and what they’re doing in games and the values they have as young people,” Noonan said. “If they do well academically, make the honor roll, those types of things. It should always be something positive.”
Even if a recruit’s youth soccer team is coming off a loss, Noonan said it’s good to see a post that acknowledges a tough defeat but looks forward to the next game or opportunity with a positive attitude.
No matter what young athletes post on social media, it’s important for them to remember coaches and potential future employers see much of the same information on those platforms. Just as kids use social media to first hear about news, coaches use it to start the process of learning about potential players for their program.
“Social media is the most prevalent source of information that’s out there today,” Noonan said. “As a player, you have to stay current and have to stay vigilant to make sure you’re being portrayed in the way you want to be portrayed.”