The skills the college coaches like to see in soccer players are not just based on performance. A college soccer player needs to have character and life skills as well to succeed in their prospective programs. From college coaches to Division 1 and Division 2 coaches the theme remains the same.
Students must possess abilities such as willingness to learn, work ethic, interest, confidence, and so on to be a part of a college soccer team. Accountability and taking responsibility for their actions also work as an added bonus.
These character and life skills are considered to be derivatives of the player’s performance skills.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything student-athletes need to know in order to play college soccer.
How Hard is it for Students to Play Soccer in College?
The college men’s soccer recruiting process is very competitive and only 7.9 percent of men’s soccer players from high school get to play in the college soccer team. Additionally, just 1.1 percent of them manage to play for D1.
On the other hand, just 10 percent of female players get recruited to college women’s soccer teams.
That’s why it’s critical to take the recruiting process seriously as you need to have good grades, great athletic talent, and excellent character and life skills.
What Skills Do You Need to Play College Soccer?
Many high school soccer players loop in their current coach to evaluate their skills and to improve their performance by college’s freshman year.
It’s also possible to contact third parties such as NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) to get evaluated and have a better idea regarding your future potential and current skill level.
You’ll need to have the following skills, other than good grades and impressive athletic performance if you want to play college soccer.
Passion and Athletic Ability
Discipline, dedication, passion, and athletic ability are needed to make your way to play college soccer and achieve your desired goals. College coaches select the individuals who love soccer and many players despite their mental desire are left behind because of a lack of passion for the soccer game.
Your Character Matters
Some people find it strange that the overall character of student-athletes matters a lot if they want to play college soccer. Even if the player can’t see it, the spotlight is on him/her after reaching the college level.
Everything that players do in secret, the motivation that drives them to pursue soccer, and their daily routine and habits are observed closely.
Coaches are interested in disciplined players who are good listeners as well.
It’s important to be confident in order to become a great college soccer player. Believing in yourself allows you to stay in good form in most games.
However, every player struggles with his/her confidence at one point or another. The key is to stay positive and focus on your weaknesses to avoid rough games.
High Work Rate
Probably the most important factor that differentiates the best college soccer players from others is their extremely high work rate. Top players always seek different ways to improve and they follow this strategy from a very young age.
No one should force you to put in hard and additional work. The best college soccer players do it because they enjoy it and if you’re willing to do the same then you can be the one competing with other good players in the country.
Great First Impression
The best way to get noticed by a college coach is to make an excellent first impression. You can go the extra mile and put extra effort to reach early than the rest of the team. It separates good players from ordinary ones and college coaches appreciate that.
As mentioned earlier, many coaches observe much more than just your overall ability and performance in playing soccer to make their college team. You need to make sure that your first impression shows that you’ll be an asset to the entire team.
The Right Steps to Follow if You Want to Play College Soccer
Decide the College Soccer Level
The first step is to decide at which level you want and can play college soccer. It’s great to have a big dream but at this stage, you need to be more realistic regarding your skills and ability.
Your previous experience, vision, athleticism, and technical skills are some important factors that decide the college soccer level you can play.
A good strategy is to consult with your high school soccer coach, club coach, director of coaching, and select coach for recommendations.
Go to Institutions that Offer Your Desired Degree Programs
You need to determine your life and career goals by thinking long-term. You can talk to your parents, select coaches, high school coaches, and school counselors to plan a path and clear your vision about your future.
Clearing House Registration Process
It’s important for all student-athletes to complete the process of clearing house registration according to the NAIA and NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 requirements.
Contact College Coaches
You should contact coaching staff members to discuss your desires. It often comes in handy because college coaches usually have information regarding college sports programs. They can also provide you with information about the expected performance level and the overall recruitment process.
Your club soccer experience will also help you out at this step. The club teams are very influential and college coaches prefer players with such experience.
How to Contact College Coaches?
The best way to contact college coaches is to email them to schedule an appointment. It’s important to note that coaches need to follow strict guidelines provided by the NCAA. They only reply back if you’re at least in 11th grade.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that college coaches receive dozens of emails daily and you can experience delayed replies.
However, you must contact them because most soccer programs keep information about good players and often contact them sooner or later.
Attend Soccer Camps
Consider attending as many soccer camps as you possibly can. It’s one of the best ways to improve your skills, meet new people, learn about different techniques, and make new connections. You might also get noticed by a camp member linked to your favorite college program.
Many NAIA and Division 2 coaches observe players and evaluate their skills at ID camps. Therefore, attending soccer camps allow the best players to get noticed by coaches.
Make an Attractive Highlight Video
You can again contact your current coach for this purpose as well. You’ll need to make sure that you create a highlight video that stands out. You can also label different actions that you add to your video accordingly.
For instance, if you’re great at defensive headers but you also play as a striker then you must include both of these actions in your video. The same is true if you’re a corner kick specialist but usually play as a midfielder.
You can also include your best shots in the video such as throw-ins that reach the foot of your teammate.
It’s important to make sure that your video explains your role clearly. For example, you’ll want to add some spectacular saves if you’re a goalkeeper.
What About College Soccer Scholarships?
Every division offers many scholarships to each team but again the process to get financial aid or scholarship money is highly competitive. Due to the extremely high level of competition in NCAA Division 2, many soccer players consider NAIA to apply for a scholarship.