Going pro in sports via a college team is a trend more native to the US than other regions.
The NBA and NFL hold a legacy of scouting for college talent. And this dominant trend seems to pour into other sports like soccer too.
So, a person who dreams of making it to the NCAA soccer leagues for going pro in the US is not mistaken. But rather the contrary, it is a sure way to secure a spot in a pro team and then be picked up by clubs.
The problem, however, is when you start thinking of it as the only option. Collegiate sporting leagues are a quick way to climb up the ladder of pro soccer.
But there are tons of other ways of putting your talent to good use too! Joining a local academy or enrolling for pre-season tryouts might attract the kind of attention you need.
The environment in such club and academy teams, the coaches, the game experience, and mental stamina building is crucial for going pro. But more on that later!
There’s much more to going pro in soccer than just having the right set of opportunities. Like, your passion, motivation, dedication, and skill are the primary thresholds for going pro.
So, let’s first find out what it takes to be a professional soccer player!
How Hard is it To Go Pro in Soccer?
What do we call going pro in soccer?
Playing any sport professionally means that you’re earning from it. And to earn from playing soccer, you need to be quite good at playing it too!
Luckily, soccer is one of the only few sports which is not biased against talent. Unlike golf, skiing, and skydiving, you don’t need a country club membership or a bagful of equipment to get started.
It is usually the boys with talent playing on the streets that make it big in soccer. And that should spark hopes for everyone alike!
But going pro in soccer doesn’t come easy either!
Hundreds of thousands of people play soccer worldwide, and less than 1% of them are good enough to earn from it. To get into that top bracket, you need to put in a lot of hours to work!
And since the scouting for soccer starts as early as when kids are 11-14 years old, the selection gets much more competitive and harder for players aging over that.
But if you have the talent, are fit enough for the sport, and are ready to give in endless hours to practice, going pro in soccer is then all but an opportunity away.
However, to find out how hard it really is to go pro in soccer, we need to break down the essentials into the following four parts.
Your fitness is the baseline from which you take off for professional soccer. Pro soccer players are some of the fittest athletes worldwide, and you need to catch up close as well.
The exhaustive 90 minutes of playtime in soccer can be physically punished if you’re not in the best shape. You need to be comfortable with running around 7-9 miles on every gameday.
And seeing how soccer matches happen frequently, you need to be match-fit for 2-3 days per week. In such circumstances, staying healthy and preventing injuries become crucial.
Most amateur soccer players succumb to injuries in training due to a lack of fitness. So, before we even get started with other requirements, you need to make sure you’re in more than good shape.
To play soccer professionally, whether long-field soccer, indoors or futsal, your physical fitness should be superior to nearly everyone around you.
Skills with the Ball
Some say that being skillful in soccer is something that comes naturally. While there is truth to that, you can also build a skill set through rigorous practice and hard work.
If you’re shy with the ball at your feet initially, don’t give in to the pressure. Get yourself signed up for various skills that help you out in improving your soccer performance.
With that said, there is a minimum threshold of skills that you must have if you’re thinking about going pro in soccer.
You need to be able to shoot with all parts of your foot and in all situations (groundball, volley, acrobatic, etc.). Other than that, your passing needs to be immaculate.
And though not that important initially, you should be comfortable with dribbling a player or two at least.
If you can’t count all three attributes in your current skill set, going pro in soccer may not be your cup of tea!
You can still sign up for casual matches and games. But tying hope for pro-futsal, indoors, or outdoors soccer with an incomplete skillset is a recipe for disappointment.
Coaching and Mentoring
So, you have the skills and fitness needed for professional soccer. What do you need next?
Monitored coaching is the most crucial training element for attracting pro teams to sign you up. You can develop your skills to a specific limit on your own. After that, you need a pro coach to advance your game.
Finding the right type of coaching environment is the key here as well. Whether you’re playing outdoor soccer, indoor soccer, or futsal, you need to be trained by a qualified coach for each.
Such a coach will analyze your style of play and guide you in on what elements you need to improve. This will also acquaint you with the general dynamics of soccer leagues and teams.
If you don’t know how scouts look for talent or attract transfers, you won’t make that first step into a professional soccer career.
Professional soccer coaches from your team also benefit you by connecting you to the right opportunities, which brings us to our final point!
Aligning yourself with the right opportunities is the final stepping stone for making it pro in soccer.
There are numerous ways kids get picked up for pro teams. College, academy, and club teams are the top places you should look forward to getting yourself into.
But this is where it gets tricky!
The competition in these teams is off the charts. You’re likely to come across players who’ve put in their life’s effort into the sport and will outclass you in many skills.
So, you don’t just need to get yourself on a college, academy, or club team. But you need to make sure you’re at the top of the class wherever you go.
Many players may play for such teams, but only the top lot get shortlisted for professional soccer. Every pro team wants to have the best talent.
And to attract those eyes, you need to have a unique set of skills—something no other player on the field can deliver.
Do You Have to Play College Soccer to Go Pro?
College soccer is an opportune place to enter the professional arena. But do you have to play college soccer to go pro? Not quite so!
Statistics show that even if all odds work in your favor and you do end up in a college soccer team, only 1.7% of college players make it to professional leagues.
These underlying numbers indicate the same struggle and competition you have to go through to attract pro coaches and scouts.
However, playing college soccer gives you a slight edge that may make it easier to go pro.
Colleges usually invest generously into their sports teams. And that means better coaches, better equipment, better matchups, and better stadiums.
You’ll have a lot of room to practice and be under the radar of professional coaches during training. A good coach has a keen eye for talent and will waste no time polishing it once recognized.
All you have to do is clock in the earliest and clock out the latest, bring your A-game to the pitch every day and develop the skills your coach advises you upon.
It won’t be long then until your coach signs you up for matches where the scouts from pro soccer teams pick up talent. And if you’re lucky that day, you may get called for a tryout.
So, yes! Playing college soccer does give you an advantage over finding tryouts and coaches for yourself. But it surely isn’t the only way of getting into soccer.
Many players prefer the round-the-clock soccer framework of academies and clubs. And so, it’s easier for them to make it pro from there.
But if you’ve got a funded scholarship at a college already, you can make equally good out of the opportunity given to you like everyone else.
Do College Soccer Players Go Pro?
Top college players often find themselves in professional leagues and tournaments even before finishing their program.
Some famous examples of soccer players that made it pro from college are Zack Steffen, Matt Hedges, and Tim Ream.
But if you mean to ask how many college soccer players make it pro, then that percentage equals the ones making it pro out of academies and club teams.
Whatever platform you go to in soccer, whether it is college soccer, indoor, futsal, or outdoors, you’ll only find the top 1% reaching the professional stage.
This shows only one thing, and that’s the competition there is in soccer. It is everywhere!
If you’re joining up a college soccer team only with the hope of making it professional, you may need to do quite a bit more than that.
College soccer is just another platform for scouts to select talent from. And to make it on their list, you have to showcase an exceptional set of skills like anywhere else.
Because college players do go pro at the end of the day, but certainly not all of them!
Going pro in soccer is something you cannot get up and decide in your late teen years. Professional soccer players are into the sport religiously before the age of 10.
And they’ve been practicing nearly every day for hours to learn the needed skills. This makes it nearly impossible to match a professional soccer competitor’s skill set if you haven’t been doing the same.
However, if you’ve made it to a college, club, or academy soccer team, you clearly are above average among soccer players. And that means you still have a shot at making it big from there.
But that will need endless hours of practice and training to keep improving your game!
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!