Any high school student who plays soccer and wants to continue playing soccer in college would be curious to know how much of an advancement to expect from college soccer in comparison to high school soccer. It is said that if you’re one of the coach’s favorite players on the team, then you’ll excel in college soccer, while others say you won’t even come close. So how hard is college soccer really?
Competing in soccer at the college level is significantly more challenging than at the high school level. 7.9% of high school players play college soccer, with 1.1% playing for Division 1. D1 will expect better soccer performance skills than D2, but all 3 divisions want good workplace skills.
Continue reading to find out what it truly takes to become a college soccer player!
How difficult is it to get into college soccer?
College soccer is going to expect more from you than high school soccer, just as the two schools expect from students academically. Once you get into the school, you can then compete in the recruiting process to try to get into the soccer program for that college. It’s very rare for a college soccer team to recruit players without the recruitment process and solely base recruitment on performance in high school or community soccer teams.
So unless you’ve done exceedingly well in high school and been asked to join the college team because of your success, then expect the recruitment process for college soccer to be very competitive. This is because most college soccer teams only recruit a select few students.
Here are the recruitment percentages for Division 1 soccer teams in comparison to college soccer overall:
|College team||Percentage of high school students recruited|
|Men’s College Soccer||7.9%|
|Men’s D1 Soccer||1.1%|
|Women’s College Soccer||9.7%|
|Women’s D1 Soccer||2.3%|
Given these percentages, we see that women’s college soccer, in general, is easier to get into and is therefore less competitive than men’s college soccer. If you want to play for Division 1 soccer, however, it’s going to be much more difficult to get into than any other division, as only 1.1% of the people recruited onto any college soccer team get to play in division 1, which they can then attempt to compete to get on professional teams.
Differences between the three divisions and what they expect
There are three different divisions of college soccer you can get into, which we discussed a bit earlier. Each college has one team that falls under one of these divisions, so you may want to try out for various different schools of different divisions for a greater likelihood of getting recruited by at least one division. (Source)
Division 1 is the top of the tier and is, therefore, the most difficult college soccer program to get into. Because of this, players are more likely to get into Division 3 soccer than D2 or D1. Division 1 is also going to expect a higher tolerance level and stronger ability from players than Division 2 or 3.
The biggest difference between a D1 and a D2 player is the speed at which they can run, as well as their technical speed and tactical speed. Technical speed is the ability to quickly and swiftly take control of the ball in fewer touches than the average D2 player would take.
Their tactical speed encompasses their ability to read other players and predict 2 or 3 steps ahead, including passes, runs, and clearances. Being able to predict how the players are going to play a few steps ahead will help the player’s speed overall.
Both D1 and D2 players often get a full-ride scholarship to the school they are playing for. D3, on the other hand, doesn’t offer scholarships. But at D3 schools, there are other ways you can get a scholarship while also playing for their team, primarily for academic excellence or financial disadvantage.
When it comes to college soccer, you should follow your dreams, while also remaining realistic when it comes to your current skill level. If your skill level is D3, then you can continue to improve your skills as you play for the team and, if you’re successful, you may get noticed by another school that has a D2 or D1 team.
Remember that you can still play professional soccer after playing for a D3 team, so if you get into a D3 program, it’s not an end-all-be-all. In fact, getting into college soccer is a big deal and a reason to celebrate.
What skills should I have to play college soccer?
To play college soccer, you should have a set of skills that are similar to high school soccer, but at a more advanced level. These skills include speed, communication, resilience, confidence, and the ability to lead, jump, dive, dribble a ball, and be tactical.
All these performance skills should be more concentrated in players who want to be considered for college soccer. You can improve these skills in various ways, including practicing on a community team and attending various soccer camps (where you may even get noticed by someone with a connection to a college soccer team, which could lead to eventual recruitment). You should keep in mind that these skills are heightened the higher up the tier you want to get into; for example, D1 schools will expect more from players when it comes to these skills than a D2 school.
Regardless of which division school you get into, you’ll be considered to be part of the team if you have a set of skills that have nothing to do with soccer but rather with academics and the workplace. Playing college soccer is like a part-time job, so you’re essentially getting “hired” to play and thus team managers want to look for players who have workplace skills. This is especially so because both Divisions 1 and 2 offer scholarships and thus don’t want their money to go to waste by recruiting a player who does not do well in school, let alone for the team.
Aside from athletic ability, college soccer recruiters will look for players who are disciplined, dedicated, and passionate not only when it comes to soccer but to their schooling as well. They should be motivated in their career path and should keep good habits in their daily routines.
Players should also be confident and believe in themselves when it comes to soccer and academics. They should also have a good work ethic, and always be looking for ways to improve their skills and abilities.
How demanding is college soccer?
As said earlier, playing soccer in college is about as demanding as a part-time job, although you’ll get paid for it. But it’s not demanding like just any part-time job, but rather a physically demanding part-time job.
You’ll need to put in several hours per week into practices and training, on top of the competitions and games throughout the season. The higher division you play for, the more time and physical work it will demand of you, and the less time you’ll have for your academics and internships.
And, just because college soccer teams want you to demonstrate your dedication to school, they’re not going to help you to put your academics first.
College soccer coaches will instead try to push you to your best ability when it comes to soccer, and that includes your time even if it takes extra time away from your schooling. So not only will you be spending alot of time at practice and games, but you’ll need to sacrifice other things to makes sure you keep up on all of your academics.