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How Hard Is It To Play College Soccer? 8 Fundamental Requirements

How Hard Is It To Play College Soccer? 8 Fundamental Requirements

US soccer fans enjoy watching professional games involving elite leagues such as the Major League Soccer (MLS). For most of them, watching these teams battle it out in tournaments spring up a desire to play the game or take it more seriously as a career.

The same can be said about college soccer, a lower division of professional soccer in some countries, including the United States. Most people prefer to watch games in lower divisions like this because of the incredible display of skills among these amateur players and the competition on the field.

Another peculiar reason is that college soccer is as close to the grassroots as any sport can be. It’s incredible the level of fan support college soccer has enjoyed over the years in the US.

Aside from competition on the field, soccer players in colleges and universities also have to excel academically. They do this to maintain their position on the team and advance in their profession.

Combining academics and soccer is not easy for most soccer players because much is expected. College players must demonstrate a willingness to learn, confidence, talent, and other qualities to retain their place on the team.

This article will highlight what college players have to go through to secure a place on a team. This will help better understand all that’s needed to play in the division.

How hard is it to play college soccer?

In all honesty, to get a place in and play college soccer is challenging but achievable. To put that in perspective, only 8% of high school players make it onto college soccer teams, and only a tiny percentage of those make it to the next division.

College soccer is a demanding sport that requires players to be physically fit and mentally sharp. However, with the level of competition amongst players, prospects cannot rely solely on their soccer abilities. This is because real success at this level of soccer is doubtful.

a soccer match between blue and red teams

So much is expected from soccer players day in and day out. Unfortunately, there is little guarantee of retaining their position in the team or advancing to the next division unless these expectations are met adequately.

The work rate, sheer ability, field accountability, rate of improvement, and an enormous amount of luck are all involved. However, given that the player must constantly train to achieve these goals, the life of a college soccer player can sometimes be overwhelming.

What are the requirements to play college soccer?

Irrespective of the variant of soccer — association football, indoor soccer, beach soccer, traditional soccer, — all existing types played in colleges are super tough to perform and demand your absolute best.

Even after painstakingly striving to get in, players struggle to stay relevant in each division. Progression through the divisions necessitates a significant amount of effort as well.

All of the various types of soccer in college have general entry requirements. These requirements are detailed below.

Understanding the difference between high school soccer and college soccer

There’s a lot of difference between playing high school soccer and college soccer. As you proceed to actualize your dreams of playing college soccer, you may need to take note of areas where there are significant differences between high school and college soccer.

1. Physicality and play speed

Firstly, high school soccer is less competitive, and most players are still young and fall below the age of 16. High school soccer players are usually encouraged to play at a moderate speed with less physicality to minimize injuries.

In college soccer, with the high rate of competition, not only is the speed of play faster than what you may be accustomed to, players tackle each other with the same intensity as what is obtainable in professional soccer.

a soccer match in college

2. Soccer IQ

No doubt, soccer IQ is also needed in high school soccer, but more is needed in college soccer. Part of what soccer IQ entails is improving your spatial intelligence.

More than half the time, as a soccer player, you’re trying to avoid your opponent from intercepting and taking possession of the ball. Improving your soccer IQ will also help you better utilize ball touches and control.

As already stated, with higher physicality, you have to know when and how to keep the ball in your possession and when to pass it out.

In college soccer, there are many more people looking to replace you on the team. Therefore, you have to hone your soccer IQ and your skills.

3. Fitness

With the intensity of gameplays in college soccer, you have to prepare your body to take on the needed stress. You need to stay in shape by performing necessary exercises.

Since soccer involves lots of movement, you should make sure you’re doing lots of running unless you intend to become a goalkeeper. It helps improve muscle memory making your body better adapted to withstand the demands of the game.

It would be best if you made the college gym one of your favorite places on campus. As your body begins to reach the peak of maturity, build and train your muscles to allow you to outperform other players on the field.

a man running on the treadmill

4. Awards

Maybe you were rated as one of the best soccer players in your high school team, or you’ve enjoyed relative success and fame in soccer before attempting college soccer. These awards may have mattered back then to your players and coaches, but college soccer coaches are not going to worship you for it.

Don’t get it wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having awards and showcasing them but don’t put your trust and brand on them. Instead, look at those awards as motivations to deliver your best in college soccer.

Your previous awards are as good as nothing to college soccer coaches and their staff without the required skill and attitude.

5. Coaches

If you played soccer in high school and excelled at it, there’s no iota of doubt that one of your favorite people was the coach. He was probably like a father figure that helped grow your interest and passion for the sport.

While college coaches can also have these attributes, they are more experienced and would inadvertently demand more from you. College soccer coaches hope to improve on the basics or fundamentals of what you have been taught.

To succeed in college soccer, you have to be coachable — be open to learning. You would also need to learn how to be a team player.

soccer coach on the field

6. Schedule

Soccer was most probably slightly more of a hobby in high school. In college, it becomes more serious than that. You’re expecting to find a way to balance academics and soccer in a way that neither of them suffers.

This means you have to give up playing video games or watching movies to practice personally or stay fit. So when we talk about scheduling, it’s basically referring to good time management.

College soccer has a more demanding schedule than what you think you’ve experienced in high school.

full schedule

Are you confident and mentally ready to play college soccer?

While playing in high school soccer provides you with the advantage of experience, college soccer will require a high level of mental toughness and strength. Being able to balance academics and soccer comes with a high mental price.

Like with any competitive sport, you must have the confidence to become a good soccer player. So it is for a college soccer player.

However, if one is to be realistic, every soccer player struggles with confidence at some point in their career. Even top-rated soccer players have struggled with their self-esteem and confidence at one time in their professional careers.

When this happens, it affects performance. If not addressed, it can lead to long-term loss of form.

So, how does a budding college soccer player overcome this? Here’s our advice. The key to overcoming a lack of confidence is to maintain a positive attitude and concentrate on improving your weaknesses.

While you’re at it, try not to be too hard on yourself, so it doesn’t become counterproductive. Relaxation can boost confidence to a great extent. It helps take your mind off the negatives.

Try to relax regularly, especially after a strenuous training session or before a game. Once you’ve regained confidence, you’ll be able to command the needed action on the field and improve your play.

In addition, your decision-making abilities in the field of play are greatly improved. This new sense of self-confidence and quality would certainly have a positive ripple effect on other team members.

While building confidence isn’t easy, especially with the pressures placed on college players, it is certainly doable and necessary. Below are the factors that can affect the success or failure of your college soccer quest.

1. Grades

You should understand by now how important your grades are in your journey to playing college soccer or making soccer a career professionally.

You’ll discover that different colleges have different GPA requirements. For example, some colleges require a high GPA while others don’t.

Knowing what your GPA currently stands at, it’s best to shortlist schools that fall within that GPA average. Sometimes, if you have the necessary soccer abilities, the college soccer coach may put in a good word for you, if you have a GPA close enough to the school’s average.

grade a b c d

Division 3 colleges have far less leniency than Division 1 colleges when it comes to excelling academically. This is because these Division 3 schools make academic life a major part of their school program.

Irrespective of the college soccer division you choose, it’s imperative you keep up your grades and do well to excel academically. How well you handle things in the classroom gives your coaches the confidence that you can excel on the field of play.

2. How do you intend to stand out?

It is said that first impressions are everything, and this is true for college soccer as well. It is not enough to be a skilled soccer player, you must be recognized for what you do. Therefore, making a good first impression is the best way to get noticed by a soccer coach.

Going above and beyond to make a good first impression entails putting in extra effort in the game. It would help if you did things that most other team members take for granted, such as being precise with your passes and shots.

College soccer coaches easily notice and appreciate good players, and they would do well to identify and distinguish them from the average ones.

Although getting identified sounds simple, it isn’t as basic as it sounds. For some unplanned reasons, your first impression may not be as good as you hoped despite putting your best efforts.

While hoping to be noticed by coaches, keep in mind that not only is your overall ability evaluated, your contribution and desire to ensure team performance are also important factors in surviving college soccer. You must demonstrate these when given the opportunity.

3. Money issues

Undoubtedly, you are eager to play soccer in college, and that’s understandable, but do you have the finances to fund the academic part? One of the things to consider when choosing a college that offers soccer opportunities is to check if the fees are affordable.

You can have the right soccer abilities and average grades, but you’ll find it difficult to get admitted without the finances to pay for college tuition.

This is where academic scholarship programs come to play. Again, this is only possible if you take your grades very seriously. You are better suited to take advantage of available scholarships with improved grades.

scholarship appliciation

College soccer coaches can also help players secure scholarships by putting in a good word for them, but you have to be exceptionally outstanding.

Securing scholarships or settling money-related issues helps you stay focused on your studies and the game. This will do both you and the coach a lot of good in the coming college soccer season.

4. Having soccer skills

This is often thought of as the only necessary requirement to play college soccer. Unfortunately, it is a costly mistake that young, aspiring college soccer players make. As a result, they usually struggle to make a career in the sport.

Soccer, like most sports, has overall distinct roles for players in a team. These include goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and strikers.

soccer player in red juggling a ball

What role do you have the required skills for? There are general skills that all players are to have, but specific roles on the pitch require specific skills.

For instance, as a goalie, you may not necessarily be expected to have a high competency level in dribbling or great heading abilities. Skills that’ll set you apart would include things like quick reflexes (eye-hand coordination), diving, reading the opponent, etc.

Spend time developing the tactical aspect of the field role you intend to play. This way, the coaches can easily spot you and utilize the tactical abilities you offer.

5. How lucky are you?

Too often, we downplay the influence of luck in our lives. So, to avoid conflict of religious or doctrinal interest, let’s agree to call all success achieved by chance, other than actions, luck.

Prospective college soccer players sometimes need a stroke of luck to get selected. When competing players share almost equal abilities, getting selected rests solely in the arms of luck.

6. Have a good soccer recommendation

The first step toward playing college soccer is to discuss such a goal with your high school coach. Community coaches, as well as academy coaches, may be of assistance.

It would be best if you informed them of your desire to continue playing soccer in college in an appropriate manner. This is because they have relationships with people who can help connect you with college programs.

They are also in a position to explain the requirements of college soccer, ensuring that you are prepared for it. Soccer coaches will give you an honest assessment of your skills and where you need to improve to be considered for it.

soccer coach and his team

Your chances of getting a recommendation from your coaches are dependent on your grades, test scores, character, and hard work. They need to know that you will pass the necessary exams and excel on the field of play.

7. Find a good college to attend

Without losing focus on the goal of playing college soccer, you have to begin by choosing a college you find comfortable. What has comfort got to do with anything?

Well, to perform academically, you have to be comfortable in the school’s environment. Your course of study must be one you enjoy so it becomes easy to maintain good grades.

students in college

Your success on the pitch is directly related to your performance in class. To help with this, when searching and shortlisting colleges, look for colleges that offer your intended course of study. Then narrow it down to the soccer programs they offer.

When you have successfully narrowed your list, it’s best to physically visit the college or look up virtual tours on YouTube or the school’s website.

8. Make contact with college coaches

The coaching staff members would have the necessary information about college soccer programs you need. In addition, they will be able to inform you personally about the requirements and the selection procedure.

To schedule an appointment with a college soccer coach, sending an email is the best way to contact them. However, bear in mind that these coaches can be picky about who they respond to.

If you want to improve your chances of getting an appointment, make sure you mention your previous club experiences. Coaches generally prefer players with experience.

soccer coach and three students

If you don’t get a response right away, be patient. Coaches typically receive dozens of messages per day, and it’s normal for them to leave some unattended for a while.

You should also create a highlight video demonstrating your abilities and attach it to your applications. Again, you could enlist the assistance of coaches or fellow players to guide you through making and editing the videos to make them pop.

When you’re finished with the video, label it appropriately. For example, a player skilled at delivering excellent corners should clearly label those actions in the video. Make sure the labels aren’t exaggerated. Instead, keep it simple.

Make sure to demonstrate your discipline in the video. For example, if you’re a goalkeeper, try and ensure the video only shows the spectacular saves you’ve made, as well as other remarkable plays you have done, like footwork and clearings.

Overediting or doctoring the video is pointless because coaches and recruitment personnel can see through it. All they need is your expressed abilities.

Aside from the options mentioned above, obtaining a scholarship to play college soccer is also a viable option. However, it is always competitive despite the numerous offers available.


In general, college soccer is difficult and only a small number of people can participate. Therefore, candidates are required to have a variety of skills.

Once accepted, they are coached to improve their games while also learning effective techniques. They’re dropped if they don’t meet expectations within a specific time frame.

Only about one in every 100 college soccer players who put in a lot of effort is drafted into the MLS.

College soccer is difficult given the large number of candidates who apply to play college soccer, the limited number of accepted players, and the minimal number of players who advance to professional soccer.

Nevertheless, if some people have been successful, you too can.