When it comes to social media and college recruiting, there is so much more to the process than just making a post and calling it a day. Building clear, consistent graphics is a major part in showcasing to college coaches the critical information that they need to follow, especially during college showcase weekends.

But how does one actually build a strong social media graphic?

With a giant slate of college recruiting events on tap over the next couple of weeks, here are some quick tips on how to create an effective showcase graphic.

Step 1: Always Remember: You Do Not Have To Be An Artist To Make An Effective Graphic (Nor Do You Have To Pay For One)

One of the biggest roadblocks that student-athletes face when posting on social media is a general fear of how things will look. This is certainly understandable, as posting on social media can be a nerve-wrecking experience. Adding in digital design and creating graphics/artwork for the general public, something that does not come naturally for some, and the fear can be even worse.

It’s important to understand that it’s okay to make mistakes and that, generally speaking, no showcase schedule post is a work of fine art. What college coaches are most interested in is that the information is correct, that it’s easy to read, and up in a timely manner (24-48 hours before the first match is a good rule of thumb). You also do not need to spend money to make an effective showcase graphic. While going to a freelance digital design site might sound easier, they also can cost a significant chunk of change. Creating a graphic template is relatively simple, cheap, and in the long run a good skill to have as a student-athlete as one enters the professional world. Working on a project like this is a great opportunity for student-athlete to not only learn about how they can communicate to their audience in a creative way, but also learn more about themselves.

Step 2: Choose A Digital Design Tool That Best Fits Your Skill Set

There are a ton of digital design tools available out there in the world and the best purchase really depends on the student-athlete’s toolkit. While many of the showcases will also have premade graphics that the student-athletes can use, almost all of them will still require some level of design.

If the student-athlete is proficient with graphic design or are interested in studying art, Adobe Photoshop is a strong option. Photoshop provides detailed tools for the user to create strong exciting, graphics.

For those who are just starting out, Canva and Adobe Express provide simpler design tools and also strong templates to build from. Both also offer rudimentary video editing options.

Some additional items to consider are if the tool is available on mobile as well as desktop, cost (many school systems offer a student Adobe package for free), and if the tool allows you to remove backgrounds (if you can, always remove white backgrounds from logos).

Step 3: Work On It Ahead Of Time

When it comes to anything on social media, the highest number of mistakes happen when posts are rushed. Wrong information is entered, spelling and grammar mistakes are made, and logos/pictures may be missing. Showcase schedules are typically released 2-3 weeks prior to the event and Tournament Directors may have to make further changes after the schedule is posted. Leave a space open for the schedule but work on the other items around it. This includes:

  • Finding a good picture of yourself
  • Typing in your background information (height, position, full team name, year of graduation, field of study that you are interested in)
  • Finding the logos of the tournament, league, and your club and removing the white background (PNG files should automatically have them removed)
  • Creating a layout

The schedule should be set in stone 24-72 hours after it is announced so that is the perfect time to enter it and then let the post rest.

Step 4: Use A Clear Picture Of Yourself

While the graphic will include your number, remember that your number is not always visible on the field. Having a CLEAR picture of yourself is extremely important for coaches to help in their identification process. Do not use a Zoomed in iPhone/Galaxy picture that is grainy or out of focus, a picture that does not show the player’s face, or a picture that’s not in a current club jersey. Many players use their high school soccer or a previous club picture for their club showcase graphic. Remember: college coaches are coming in from across the country to attend these showcases. Little details like this are important.

If you don’t have a picture of yourself, ask a parent or coach to take a picture at practice or at home in the club jersey. Additional fun shots are ok too, but a simple, clear shot will suffice.

Step 5: Tag The Schools That You Are Interested In

If there are schools that you are interested that are coming to the showcase make sure to tag not just the coaches, but also their specific teams and/or their athletic departments. The easiest way to do this is first follow the coaches/schools and then tag them (using Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets can also help track down accounts that might be a bit difficult to find). It is also important to tag them if there has been a change in the schedule or field location. Make sure to save your template and use fonts that are easily interchangeable (This is where having a mobile graphic design app is handy).

Step 6: Have Fun!

While the college recruiting process can be stressful it is always important to remember to have fun with it. This also applies to graphic design showcase posts. This is an opportunity to show not just what you can do on the field but also, your skills off of it. For players that are interested in studying graphic design, art, communications, and marketing this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase your creative skills and build your professional portfolio.

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