What you need to know if your goal is a college scholarship.
If you’re not sure how to proceed in the recruiting process it’s OK. You’re probably like most of the other high school age soccer players in the country. But if you want to give yourself a leg up and rev up your soccer recruiting at the same time, just follow these tips:
Know The Numbers
In 2020, there were roughly 985,000 high school soccer players in the U.S. Of those, only 7.4% of male players and 9.7% of female players will compete at any college level and only .8% of male players and 2.1% of female players will play for a Division I school. The odds of a U.S. soccer player making an NCAA DI roster are 119 to 1 for men and 48 to 1 for women. While those are long odds, the odds of making any college roster are 14 to 1 for men and 10 to 1 for women.
On top of that, remember that the average roster for a college soccer team has 29 players. But each DI men’s team only has 9.9 scholarships while women’s teams can offer 14. Division II offers 9 and 9.9 scholarships for men and women’s teams. NAIA schools can offer 12 for both genders and NJCAA schools can offer 24 scholarships for both men and women.
Think about where your abilities might help you fit in with those numbers and…
Set Goals And Be Prepared
By your freshman year, sophomore year at the latest, you should start thinking about colleges where you might be interested in playing. By your junior year, shoot to have a preferred list of five to six schools. Research those schools to gauge if they’re interested in you. Visit the campuses and, if possible, attend camps or clinics and meet the players and coaches. By your senior year, your list should be narrowed down to three or four schools. You should have a good feel for what you’re looking for academically, athletically, and socially from each school. That’s important, because knowing what you want will come in handy if you get interest from schools that you may not have considered previously.
Don’t Get A Red Card
In addition to researching schools, know the NCAA recruiting rules, regulations, and terminology. Know when, how, and how often schools and or coaches can contact you. Remember that, no matter how talented you are or how many goals you’ve scored, those rules apply to you too. NCAA violation will mean a quick red card for your recruiting.
Make A Personal Introduction
Whether it’s via a letter or email, a good way to get yourself on a soccer coach’s radar is to simply introduce yourself. Make it personal. Highlight your height and weight, your high school and/or club experience, academic record, and link to your profile page and highlight video. Mention why you’re interested in their school, their program, and how you can contribute to the team. And, if you’ve met the coach or attended one of their camps or clinics, remind them of that in your introduction, too. Finally, make sure your recruiting profile includes three letters of recommendation. They don’t necessarily have to be from soccer coaches, but hopefully they’ll all stress your dedication, commitment, and desire to work hard.
Emphasize Your Academics
Your skills on the soccer field can open doors for you at many colleges. But those same doors will slam shut if you don’t meet each school’s academic requirements. And, if you don’t qualify academically or a coach simply considers you academically risky, then your opportunities to earn a scholarship will be reduced.
Remember too, like in other sports, many college coaches are judged as much on their graduation rates as on their win-loss records. If your grades need help, start working to improve them sooner rather than later. If your grades are solid, keep working to keep them that way or to even improve them.
Finally, don’t forget that good grades can also mean academic scholarship opportunities. Academic scholarship opportunities are important because there’s no guarantee you’ll get a full-ride athletic scholarship. If a college soccer coach is trying to stretch their limited scholarships to as many players as possible, qualifying for an academic scholarship to package with a partial athletic scholarship can make you a more attractive recruit.
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