These are some of my practical thoughts on recruiting:

  • do your homework. Get out to the fields, and assess the level of other local programs. Club, rec, all-stars, etc. You should be able to appropriately gauge what 'level' a player is. You should be able to gauge the level of your team relative to the local talent. It will make recruiting go much quicker f you know where you can and can't get appropriate level talent.
  • approach one player at a time. Handing out flyers to a whole all-star team is amateur hour. If your team is that desperate for players, that's a very bad sign. A phrase I've taken to recently is "One bullet, one kill." That should be your approach to recruiting.
  • If you're approaching a player brand new to club soccer, find the parents. See if the kid goes to them at halftime, or where they go after the final whistle. Let them know who you are, tell them you like their player, and make a targeted, incisive comment on their play. Then, just ask if they've thought about playing club soccer. If they say they aren't interested, shake their hands, smile warmly, and thank them for their time.
  • If they are open to discussing club... tell them why you think their player would be a good fit, what position, etc. They may want to know your background, your team, cost, etc. Be prepared to answer all that. Remember to involve the player in the conversation. This involves some charisma and some emotional intelligence. Most parents will cave to what their kid wants. The player wants to feel valued, and have their ego massaged.
  • I can't stress enough that you need to connect with the parents and the player on a personal level, and they need to connect with you. If it feels like they won't be committed, or like they want a low-pressure, recreational environment, you need to figure that out implicitly, or explicitly. It will make integration into the team easier. And to be honest, if you find you really have to push a family to join, that's not a good indicator for their longevity with your team.
  • One last piece of advice comes from Seth Godin: "People like us do things like this." Your team is not for everybody. Be honest, and play up both the pros and cons. The players you don't recruit, the players that choose not to join your team, and the players you cut, are just as indicative of the culture and team you are building as the ones you have.