Soccer has become the most popular youth sport in the U.S. Boys and girls alike have started playing soccer as young as possible and have joined thousands of other kids in soccer competition. This means that soccer players have been playing for at least several years by the time they reach high school. And for many of these players, this has also meant competing for multiple teams all year round.
The thousands of youth soccer players develop the same skills and work to get better with each season. This increases the competition it takes to make your high school soccer team, and to get recruited for soccer. With about 1,300 men’s programs and 1,450 women’s programs at the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA levels, fighting for these soccer scholarship spots takes determination and lots of hard work. Club and travel teams offer experience and a competition level that can’t match high school soccer.
If it is your goal to get recruited to play soccer in college then playing for a local recreational soccer team isn’t enough to get the experience that college coaches are looking for. If you want to earn a soccer scholarship, you need elite level and travel experience, and you need to excel at that level. You can drastically improve your chances of getting a soccer scholarship if you gain any Olympic Development experience, or travel internationally to compete.
Here are some of the basics that college coaches want to see from their soccer recruits:
- Defenders: Make sure you can push your midfield forward while also being able to win balls through tackles and in the air with headers.
- Wings/Attackers: Be able to demonstrate strategic formation for attacks and use your resources to score goals.
- Midfielders: Communicate between the defenders and the front line, and be knowledgeable about your field distribution while being able to support on both offense and defense.
Of course, not all soccer players are able to get this kind of exposure. Being a part of a club team and traveling to tournaments can get pretty expensive. In order to get what you need for your soccer resume, here are some tips to help impress college coaches:
- Highlight Video: College coaches want to see your confidence on the field and how you work with your team to push the ball forward and protect your goal. There needs to be strong communication between you and your team, no matter what position you are in. Show your passing, attacking, defense and speed.
- Soccer Camps: Being able to attend college soccer camps can be very beneficial in your recruiting. It gives college coaches a chance to see your skills and talent in person. Make sure to attend camps where the coaches you want to watch you are going to be. This increases your exposure to the schools you are interested in attending.
- Academics: You can drastically improve your chances for a soccer scholarship if you are a good student as well as a good athlete. College coaches need to maintain a high team GPA and graduation rate in order to create a well-rounded program. If you can help them achieve this and are able to contribute your skills on the field, you will gain the interest of more coaches.
- Eligibility: Make sure you know what you need in order to be eligible to get recruited for a soccer scholarship. The NCAA and NAIA have requirements that athletes need to fulfill before they are able to compete at the college level. Coaches expect you to know these requirements and fulfill them.