Podcast: Randy Waldrum – Houston Dash (NWSL) Head Coach
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Question: Are there any specific ideas that you can pass along to these players while they’re looking to get recruited? How does that work? When you were recruiting and you guys, gosh, I think you did an amazing job with your recruiting at Notre Dame. Are there some things that you can pass along to players as they start to become age where recruiting is necessary now?

Coach Waldrum: Yes, and I think that’s a really big topic too, but I think some of the key things there are, from a playing perspective, the thing that’s going to catch a college coach’s eye is the technical ability of the player. How comfortable is she with the ball? How comfortable is she, because our sport, as you well know, is all about time and space.

As the space gets lessened and it becomes less of it, is that player more comfortable than the next player dealing with that ball under pressure. The technical side is always going to be key. I don’t think we can do enough on that end. I think players can continue to work to get better and more comfortable with the ball, because at the elite level that is the key difference, is the technical ability under pressure.

I think, from a playing standpoint and a preparation standpoint, that’s something that players should continue and continue to work on and spend time with, is that aspect of it. I think the other side of it is, now, then, because we know so much more about sport science and nutrition. I think those things can really be key, because these high-school-age players, now, can really start at a younger age, taking care of their bodies, with how they eat, how they refuel, how they fuel before competitions. The sport science of what it takes to get fitness levels.

Back in the old days when I first started, I apologized to my players I had back in the day and say I only ran training the way it was run with me. Our coaches always thought if you run so much that you puked then you really had a hard workout. Not understanding the science, that you need, the rest in your workouts is as important as the duration of the sprint that you’re doing and those kinds of things.

We know so much more now. I think that’s an edge that young players can get if they’re finding that edge to separate themselves from the others. I think, in terms of the other aspects of recruiting, is it’s now starting so early.

Freshmen and sophomores are starting to commit now to colleges and we all know that’s too young. They’re worried about the clothes they’re going to wear the next day to class. They’re not really worried about college but unfortunately that’s the way the recruiting process is going.

I think parents have to take a more active role in this process with the players. The players have to take a more active role in an earlier time frame and I think the one thing to remember is that the player still holds the cards in the recruiting process.

I think too many universities now are recruiting these young players and they’re giving them a week to make a decision or they’re giving them 10 days to make a decision early in the process. I never did that at Notre Dame because I just felt like players needed to have the ability to look at all the options. I wanted to make sure that the players looked everywhere and then decided, “Yes, Notre Dame’s where I want to be”, because then I knew I had that player.

So many schools are putting pressure on them to take it and giving you 10 days before they have a chance to look around. Parents are caving to that financial offer. I would say, “Believe in your daughter. Believe in the process and take the time that you need before you get pressured into making a decision that you’ll regret later.”

I think that’s why we’re seeing more of these players transferring now. They get to a place that they made an early commitment and realize that it wasn’t the place for them. I think be very diligent and very systematic in looking at your options and the recruiting process and recognize that the recruit still holds the cards a little bit.

If you miss out on that opportunity because you weren’t ready to commit, then maybe that really wasn’t the place for you in the first place, if that coach wasn’t going to be with you all the way through the process. Those would be a couple of key things. The last thing I would just say in that regard is, be very aware now in today’s climate with all the social media because that’s being monitored by all the schools.

The language that you use on Facebook and Twitter and the pictures you post, those things can eliminate 10 years of hard work and preparation to get to the collegiate level. You can lose a scholarship just because of a tweet. I would be very, very careful in today’s age, with social media…