Getting seen by college coaches is harder than ever. So we had a college coach put together a game plan for you in this hour-long webinar.

The nation’s youngest public university sits quietly in an Atlanta suburb, in an even quieter level of competition, the NAIA. And yet, Georgia Gwinnett College head women’s soccer coach, Mike Giuliano, is taken aback by how many emails he gets from recruits.

“Last year we got 2000 links to highlight reels,” he exclaimed. “Count that. A school you’ve never heard of got 2000 links last year. So just imagine how many the University of North Carolina gets.”

Today’s video capabilities make it easier than ever to show off your film. But getting it noticed is harder than ever. In an hour-long webinar hosted by Hudl, Giuliano shared his tips and tricks with parents and athletes on how to stand out from the crowd on the recruiting trail.

Full of colorful anecdotes from over three decades of coaching perspective, Giuliano’s talk focused on two main themes:

Make it Personal

Nobody, Giuliano says, is getting a scholarship based on their first contact with a coach. But first impressions do go a long way.

For one, make sure the most trusted sources in your network are vouching for you. For another—and this is one Giuliano says “80 percent of our recruits miss on this”—make sure your messaging is personalized. Say something in your first interaction that tells the coach you know about their school or program specifically.

Don’t let your parents do the talking for you either. Make sure your first interaction with a coach is in your own words, not theirs.

“Do your own talking, even if you’re shy,” Giuliano said. “We don’t mind shy. A lot of my players are shy. That’s no problem at all.” 

And, by the way, be sure to keep that first email to the coach short. Giuliano says he rarely reads beyond the second line in an email. Make it short and sweet.

Make Those Precious First Seconds Count

With so many inquiries coming in, Giuliano estimates most coaches will only watch the first 60 to 90 seconds of a highlight reel. That means in that first minute, he says, “you have to knock their socks off.”

Got a 10-second clip that blows people away? Make that your very first slide. Leave the penalty kicks and five-yard throw-ins out. Showing your very best means not just those pretty goals, but clips that show your talent on all areas of the pitch.

For attackers and defenders, this means one-on-one battles and quality headers. For midfielders, show how you connect passes, change the point of attack and move off the ball. For keepers, that long clear-out might look cool, but it’s increasingly important to be able to play the ball to feet.

Treat this moment as an appetizer to get the coaches interested in learning more about you.

“This isn’t some movie that builds and builds and builds, and there’s an amazing climax at the end,” Giuliano said. “Don’t do that. Put your best moment forward.”

Personalizing your communications

Giuliano dishes on the do’s and dont’s when reaching out to coaches, and lays out a game plan for athletes looking to get on the radar:

  • How do I kickstart my recruiting?
  • How should I contact coaches, and what can I do to stand out?
  • How important is grammar in my communications?
  • Anything I should not do when reaching out?

Highlight reel guidelines

Giuliano takes us through how to make a killer reel that sticks out from the crowd:

  • What are the basics of a good highlight reel?
  • Things that aren’t in a highlight reel that should be?
  • How can I show my intangibles (leadership, character, etc.) in a video?
  • What should I not include in my highlight reel?

Position-specific tips

Giuliano goes position-by-position on the essential clips:

  • Players who play multiple positions
  • Tips for attacking players
  • Midfielders
  • Defenders
  • Goalkeepers

Q&A from Hudl on Vimeo.


Giuliano tackles a few key questions:

  • As a high school coach, how can I help with the recruiting process?
  • I coach my own child. What’s the best way to communicate?
  • As a goalkeeper, how do I show my vision and ability to play with my feet?

Top Recruiting Mistakes

Giuliano says to break these bad habits:

  • Using your parents as an agent
  • Describing yourself in soft generalizations
  • Only contacting schools you already have an extreme interest in
  • Failing to mention at least one very specific reason why you’re interested in this particular school
  • Email mishaps—a sure recruiting killer every time!
  • Not giving enough details when asking a coach to watch you play
  • Not contacting your top 10 schools often enough
  • Only limiting your choices to Division I

More Q&A from Hudl on Vimeo.

More Q&A

Giuliano tackles leftover questions from the night:

  • Why is the majority of his team international?
  • When should we start the recruitment process, and when should we start sending highlights?
  • Advice for rising seniors trying to get seen?
  • Is it worth it for keepers to include 1v1 footage outside the 18-yard box?
  • Should freshmen email coaches?
  • Are recruiting services worth it?

A walkthrough in Hudl

Now that you’ve got your blueprint for making a highlight reel, Jono Callaghan shows you how to build one in Hudl.

Ready to learn the ins and outs of the recruiting process?

Check out our College Recruiting Guide for Athletes.