How Hard Is It to Play College Soccer?

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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.

College soccer players training

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.

Aerial view of a college running track and soccer field surrounded by houses and trees ○ Soccer Blade
Beautiful aerial view of running track around soccer field with small town and trees as background. Peaceful view of small college stadium surrounded by houses and green foliage. Athletics and sports

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.

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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.

Kelly Conheeney right in white scores the winning penalty for Ottawa Fury as they win the 2012 W League Championship after defeating Pali Blues 4 3 on penalties after the game finished 1 1 ○ Soccer Blade
Kelly Conheeney (right in white) scores the winning penalty for Ottawa Fury as they win the 2012 W-League Championship after defeating Pali Blues 4-3 on penalties after the game finished 1-1 after extra time at Algonquin College, Ottawa, July 29 2012


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.

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You need to make sure that your first impression shows that you’ll be an asset to the entire team.

Top View Bird eye view of school college with basketball soccer courts. Street sport. ○ Soccer Blade
Top View, Bird eye view of school college with basketball, soccer courts. Street sport

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.

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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.

Take a look at the top level of College soccer in playoffs finals;

Clemson vs. Washington: 2021 Men's College Cup highlights
Clemson vs. Washington: 2021 Men’s College Cup highlights
8e83cfb63d54c9260fa694b185c6bca8?s=150&d=mp&r=g ○ Soccer Blade
Soccer Analyst and Publisher at Soccer Blade | Soccer Blade

Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.

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Playing Soccer FAQ

Is soccer a contact sport?

While tackling with excessive force, charging, and striking opponents are illegal in soccer, players often overstep the boundaries. Although this generally results in appropriate sanctions being awarded, it doesn’t prevent significant contact from occurring.

What do soccer teams do at halftime?

At halftime, soccer teams exit the field. They return to their bench area. For youth teams, they may not have a locker room. However, many college and professional teams do head back to the locker room. 
The break is an opportunity for teams to collect themselves. They may talk about what is going well in the game, and what they need to resolve.

How do I join a soccer team?

Attend trials for schools, teams in your local area. If no trials are due, then contact the coach to see if you can join a practice. Search for local soccer teams and try a few to see if it suits your ability and it also needs to be a place that you would enjoy. Scholarships are also available depending on your age, ability, and location. 

Why does a soccer ball curve?

The angle and speed with which the soccer player’s boot strikes the ball determine how far the ball travels. The ball won’t curve or spin if the player hits it right in the middle with their foot following through in a completely straight line.

What are some injuries players get when playing soccer? 

The most common knee and ankle injuries are mild to severe sprains, strains, and tears. Other less common knee and ankle injuries include dislocations and fractures.

What are some ways to pass a soccer ball?

+ Inside foot: Using the area above and inside of the big toe.
+ Outside foot: This creates a spin on the ball to swerve the ball around players
+ The Laces: A powerful volley can be performed with a straight leg swing.
+ Spin: If the toes get underneath the ball with some force you create a backspin.
+ Back heel: Connect the heel with the ball to reverse play.
+ Header: Often used for clearing and shooting, but can be a creative passing move.
+ Body: Use any part of the body to deflect the ball into the path you desire.

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