What Do ECNL Coaches Look For

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  • Date: June 5, 2023
  • Time to read: 12 min.

If you’re an aspiring young soccer player hoping to play at the highest level, you’ll need to impress the coaches of ECNL teams. But what exactly are they looking for? In this article, we’ll explore the key attributes and qualities that ECNL coaches seek in their players, from technical skills to mental toughness.

Technical Skills

In modern soccer, technical skills play a crucial role in the performance of players. When it comes to what ECNL coaches look for, technical skills are at the top of the list. But what exactly are these skills, and how do coaches evaluate them? The answer is not always predictable, as different coaches may have their own criteria and methods of assessment. However, there are some common technical skills that most coaches value, such as dribbling, passing, shooting, and ball control. These skills are often evaluated through drills and game situations, where players have to demonstrate their ability to execute them under pressure and in different contexts. Yet, technical skills are not the only factor that coaches consider. They also look for other attributes such as tactical understanding, physical fitness, and mental toughness. Therefore, a player who excels in technical skills but lacks in other areas may not be the ideal candidate for an ECNL team. In summary, technical skills are a key aspect of soccer performance and an important criterion for ECNL coaches. However, coaches also take into account other attributes when evaluating players, which makes the selection process more complex and less predictable.

Liverpool FC High 2.2 73.68 9.8 1.5
Manchester City FC High 2.5 78.95 11.2 2.1
Real Madrid CF Medium 2.1 63.16 8.7 1.7
FC Bayern Munich High 2.7 86.84 12.5 2.3
Paris Saint-Germain FC Low 2.3 68.42 7.9 1.8
Juventus FC Medium 2.0 60.53 9.2 1.4
FC Barcelona High 2.4 71.05 10.1 2.0
Atletico Madrid Medium 1.8 50.00 8.5 1.2
Manchester United FC Low 1.7 44.74 7.2 1.1
Chelsea FC High 2.1 60.53 9.6 1.6
Tottenham Hotspur FC Medium 1.8 52.63 8.8 1.3
Arsenal FC Low 1.9 55.26 7.7 1.4
SSC Napoli Medium 2.2 63.16 9.9 1.9
AS Roma Low 1.7 47.37 7.6 1.0
Ajax Amsterdam High 2.3 78.95 11.4 2.2

Tactical Understanding

Tactical understanding is a complex and multi-faceted topic that requires a deep understanding of the game. It involves a combination of strategic thinking, decision-making, and effective communication. Coaches who possess a strong tactical understanding are able to analyze game situations quickly and make adjustments on the fly. They are also able to identify strengths and weaknesses in their opponents and develop a game plan that exploits those weaknesses. This requires a high level of creativity and adaptability, as well as a willingness to take risks. To develop a strong tactical understanding, coaches must be constantly studying the game, watching film, and experimenting with different strategies and tactics. It’s a never-ending process of learning and growth that requires a deep commitment and passion for the sport.

Physical Fitness

Physical fitness plays a critical role in the life of every individual. It is the cornerstone of a healthy and happy lifestyle. People who are physically fit are less prone to illness and disease and have a higher quality of life overall. But physical fitness is not just about being in shape or having a certain body type. It is about being able to perform everyday tasks with ease and having the endurance to take on challenges. Being physically fit means having a strong heart, lungs, and muscles. It means being able to run, jump, lift, and move with agility and grace.

ECNL coaches understand the importance of physical fitness in their players. They look for athletes who have the endurance, strength, and speed to perform at the highest level. They want players who can push themselves to the limit and still perform at their best. In order to be successful in ECNL, players must be physically fit and mentally tough. This means training hard, eating right, and taking care of their bodies both on and off the field. ECNL coaches evaluate players based on their physical fitness, among other things, and use this information to make decisions about playing time and team selection. It is imperative for players to prioritize physical fitness if they want to succeed in the ECNL and beyond.

Mental Toughness

Mental toughness is a key component of success in any field, and it is especially important in sports. Athletes with strong mental toughness are able to push through difficult situations, stay focused under pressure, and maintain their motivation and confidence even in the face of setbacks. Coaches at all levels, including ECNL coaches, look for athletes who demonstrate mental toughness, as they know that these athletes are more likely to succeed both on and off the field. Building mental toughness is a lifelong process that requires dedication, practice, and a willingness to embrace challenges and learn from failures. With the right mindset and support, anyone can develop the mental toughness needed to reach their goals and thrive in competitive environments.

Work Ethic

Having a strong work ethic is an essential quality that ECNL coaches look for in players. It is the foundation for success in any field, including soccer. A good work ethic means that a player is consistently putting in effort, showing up on time, and working hard to improve their skills. Coaches want players who are committed to the team’s success and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. Players with a strong work ethic are often leaders on and off the field, inspiring their teammates to perform at their best. Ultimately, having a strong work ethic is crucial for players who want to succeed at the highest levels of soccer.


Coachability refers to a player’s willingness and ability to listen, learn, and apply feedback from coaches. It is a critical factor that coaches look for when evaluating talent, as it directly impacts a player’s ability to improve and succeed. Coachability involves being open to constructive criticism, taking ownership of mistakes, and demonstrating a willingness to make changes and put in the hard work required to achieve your goals. A coachable player is not only receptive to feedback but also takes the initiative to seek it out and actively apply it to their game. Coaches value coachability because it is an essential component of a winning team culture, where players are committed to supporting each other and striving for continuous improvement.

Attitude Positive and open-minded attitude towards learning and development Accepts feedback and criticism, shows willingness to learn and improve, demonstrates a growth mindset
Effort Consistent effort and commitment to training and practice Shows up on time and ready to work, puts in maximum effort during training and games, takes personal responsibility for improvement
Coachable Body Language Demonstrates coachable body language during training and games Maintains eye contact with coaches, listens attentively, demonstrates positive nonverbal cues such as nodding and smiling
Respect for Authority Shows respect for authority figures, including coaches and referees Follows team rules and guidelines, listens to and follows directions from coaches and referees, shows sportsmanship towards opponents
Team Player Displays a team-first attitude and willingness to work with others Encourages and supports teammates, communicates effectively with others, listens to and respects the opinions of others
Self-Awareness Demonstrates self-awareness and ability to assess personal strengths and weaknesses Seeks feedback and criticism, recognizes areas for improvement, takes responsibility for personal development
Adaptability Demonstrates the ability to adapt to different situations and roles Is comfortable with changing circumstances, is able to play multiple positions or roles on the team, is willing to try new things
Mental Toughness Displays mental toughness and resilience in the face of adversity Remains focused and determined under pressure, bounces back quickly from setbacks, maintains a positive attitude
Coachability Displays a strong desire and willingness to be coached Asks questions and seeks clarification, implements feedback into practice and games, shows a willingness to learn and improve
Competitiveness Demonstrates a strong desire to compete and win Displays a high level of intensity and effort during games, strives to win every contest, shows a competitive spirit
Leadership Displays leadership qualities on and off the field Leads by example, communicates effectively with teammates and coaches, demonstrates a positive attitude and work ethic
Confidence Displays confidence in their abilities and decisions Believes in themselves and their abilities, takes calculated risks on the field, remains composed under pressure
Intelligence Displays soccer intelligence and understanding of the game Reads the game well, makes smart decisions on the field, understands and implements team tactics
Technical Ability Displays strong technical skills and ability Has good ball control and passing ability, can dribble effectively in tight spaces, possesses good shooting ability
Physical Ability Displays strong physical abilities relevant to their position Has good speed and agility, possesses good endurance, displays strength and power relevant to their position

Character and Attitude

In sports, character and attitude are essential qualities that coaches look for in their players. Demonstrating a positive attitude and strong character traits such as honesty, discipline, and determination can greatly impact a team’s success. Coaches want players who are willing to put in the work and who have a passion for the sport. On the other hand, negative attitudes and poor character traits can be detrimental to a team’s success. Coaches will often look for players who are coachable, able to work well with others, and who are resilient in the face of adversity. Overall, a player’s character and attitude can make a significant difference both on and off the field.

Leadership Ability to lead a group of players in a positive and constructive manner Takes initiative and leads by example, motivates others to excel Occasionally takes charge, but could improve in consistency and motivation of others Shows little leadership ability or motivation to lead others
Work Ethic Consistently works hard during training and games Takes every opportunity to work hard, sets the example for others to follow Works hard most of the time, but could improve consistency Shows little effort or ambition during training and games
Coachability Willingness and ability to take direction from coaches and apply it on the field Accepts feedback and implements it with ease, constantly looking to improve Takes direction and tries to apply it, but sometimes struggles to fully implement changes Resists feedback and direction, doesn't implement changes on the field
Positive Attitude Displays a positive attitude on and off the field, even in difficult situations Always positive and supportive, even when things aren't going well Generally positive, but can be affected by negative situations Often negative and critical, brings down the attitude of the team
Respectfulness Treats teammates, coaches, and opponents with respect and dignity Shows respect to everyone, regardless of position or role Generally respectful, but may struggle in certain situations Lacks respect for others, often causing conflicts or tension
Responsibility Takes responsibility for personal and team actions and decisions Always takes responsibility for actions, learns from mistakes Takes responsibility most of the time, but may struggle in some situations Does not take responsibility for actions or decisions, often blames others
Communication Communicates effectively with teammates and coaches on and off the field Communicates clearly and effectively, offering positive feedback and constructive criticism Generally communicates well, but may struggle in certain situations Struggles to communicate effectively, leading to confusion and misunderstandings
Teamwork Works well with teammates to achieve common goals Works well with everyone, encouraging and supporting teammates Generally works well with others, but may struggle to adapt to different situations Struggles to work with others, causing tension and conflicts within the team
Confidence Displays confidence in personal abilities and decision-making Confident in abilities, willing to take risks and make decisions Generally confident, but may struggle in certain situations Lacks confidence, often second-guessing decisions and abilities
Focus Maintains focus and concentration during training and games Maintains focus consistently, even in high-pressure situations Generally maintains focus, but may be affected by distractions Easily distracted, struggles to maintain focus during training and games
Physical Fitness Maintains a high level of physical fitness and health Consistently in top physical condition, always working to improve fitness and health Generally fit and healthy, but could improve in certain areas Struggles with fitness and health, affecting on-field performance
Perseverance Displays determination and perseverance in the face of challenges Perseveres through challenges and setbacks, never giving up Generally perseveres, but may struggle in difficult situations Quick to give up or become discouraged, struggling to overcome challenges
Sportsmanship Displays good sportsmanship on and off the field Always displays good sportsmanship, showing respect for opponents and officials Generally displays good sportsmanship, but may struggle in heated situations Struggles with sportsmanship, often causing conflicts or tension
Intelligence Displays soccer intelligence and understanding of the game High soccer IQ, able to read the game and make decisions quickly and effectively Generally understands the game well, but may struggle in certain situations Lacks soccer intelligence, struggling to make effective decisions on the field
Technical Ability Displays technical ability and skill on the ball High technical ability, able to execute advanced skills and techniques with ease Generally skilled on the ball, but could improve in certain areas Lacks technical ability, struggling with basic ball control and skills

Team Player Mentality

A Team Player Mentality is a crucial aspect that ECNL coaches look for when scouting for young talent. It’s not just about individual skill and talent but rather the ability to work with others towards a common goal. A player with a team player mentality is someone who is willing to put the team’s success over their individual success. They are selfless and always looking for ways to support their teammates, whether it be on or off the field. They possess strong communication skills and are able to effectively communicate with their teammates, coaches and other team staff. A team player mentality is also reflected in a player’s work ethic, they are always willing to put in extra effort to ensure the success of the team. In short, being a team player is a vital attribute that ECNL coaches look for as it fosters a positive team culture and creates a strong foundation for success.

Potential for Improvement

Potential for improvement is the capacity to enhance one’s skills and abilities. It can refer to personal growth or professional development. When it comes to sports, like soccer or basketball, potential for improvement is what coaches look for when scouting for new talent. They want to see players who are not only skilled, but also have the drive and motivation to constantly work on their weaknesses and become better. In academics, potential for improvement is often seen in students who may not have the best grades initially, but show a willingness to learn and improve. In the workplace, potential for improvement can be demonstrated by employees who seek out additional training or take on new challenges. It is important to recognize and cultivate potential for improvement because it can lead to greater success and satisfaction in life.

John Smith 50% 70% 70% 80%
Emily Johnson 60% 80% 80% 90%
Michael Lee 40% 60% 60% 70%
Sarah Kim 70% 85% 85% 90%
David Chen 45% 65% 75% 85%
Jessica Park 55% 75% 70% 80%
Alex Rodriguez 65% 80% 75% 85%
Olivia Brown 75% 90% 90% 95%
Ryan Lee 50% 70% 60% 70%
Amy Chen 70% 85% 80% 90%
Jason Kim 55% 75% 70% 80%
Sophia Park 65% 80% 75% 85%
William Lee 75% 90% 90% 95%
Lily Rodriguez 50% 70% 60% 70%
Ethan Brown 70% 85% 80% 90%

Passion for the Game

Passion for the game is what separates the good from the great. It’s not just the physical ability or the technical skills, but the burning desire to excel and push oneself beyond the limits. A player with true passion will go the extra mile, put in the extra effort, and make sacrifices to achieve their goal. Whether it’s the thrill of competition, the love of the sport, or the desire to be the best, passion is what drives a player to greatness. It’s what makes them persevere through setbacks, overcome challenges, and ultimately reach the pinnacle of success. Without passion, a player is just going through the motions. But with it, they can achieve the impossible.

Liverpool FC High 2.2 73.68 9.8 1.5
Manchester City FC High 2.5 78.95 11.2 2.1
Real Madrid CF Medium 2.1 63.16 8.7 1.7
FC Bayern Munich High 2.7 86.84 12.5 2.3
Paris Saint-Germain FC Low 2.3 68.42 7.9 1.8
Juventus FC Medium 2.0 60.53 9.2 1.4
FC Barcelona High 2.4 71.05 10.1 2.0
Atletico Madrid Medium 1.8 50.00 8.5 1.2
Manchester United FC Low 1.7 44.74 7.2 1.1
Chelsea FC High 2.1 60.53 9.6 1.6
Tottenham Hotspur FC Medium 1.8 52.63 8.8 1.3
Arsenal FC Low 1.9 55.26 7.7 1.4
SSC Napoli Medium 2.2 63.16 9.9 1.9
AS Roma Low 1.7 47.37 7.6 1.0
Ajax Amsterdam High 2.3 78.95 11.4 2.2

What is ECNL?

ECNL stands for Elite Clubs National League. It is a top-level youth soccer league in the United States, with the goal of developing young players to their fullest potential.

What are ECNL coaches looking for in players?

ECNL coaches are looking for players who are technically skilled, tactically aware, physically fit, and mentally tough. They also want players who have a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and a willingness to learn and improve.

What are some specific skills that ECNL coaches value?

ECNL coaches value a wide range of skills, including ball control, passing accuracy, shooting ability, defensive positioning, and decision-making. They also look for players who have good speed, agility, and endurance.

What can players do to impress ECNL coaches?

Players can impress ECNL coaches by demonstrating their skills and abilities during tryouts, games, and training sessions. They should also show a willingness to work hard, listen to feedback, and improve their game.

What are some common mistakes that players make when trying to impress ECNL coaches?

Some common mistakes include trying too hard to stand out, not playing within the team concept, not following instructions or game plans, and not showing enough hustle or effort.

In conclusion, ECNL coaches look for a combination of technical, tactical, physical, and mental abilities in a player. They seek individuals who demonstrate a strong work ethic, coachability, and a passion for the game. Coaches also value good communication skills, team spirit, and leadership qualities. It is important for players to showcase their strengths and continuously work on areas of improvement in order to catch the eye of ECNL coaches.

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