Playing soccer at an NCAA Division III college can be quite an adjustment for student-athletes. Student-athletes are leaving an environment that has been familiar to them for the last four years of their lives and are taking on something new. You probably were the “big guy/girl” on campus as seniors and now you are going back to being freshmen. In this week’s post, we are going to look at what are some of the things that freshmen will need to expect to adjust to, when they come to play college soccer.
Let’s preface this post by saying that this transitional time period can be daunting. The first semester as a freshmen (all other things being equal) is probably the most difficult college semester in a student-athlete’s 4 year career.
First, let’s look at the soccer related aspects.
Team Dynamics- You probably don’t really know any of the players on the team, so you are getting to know all of them (maybe up to 20 new faces) all at once. Some you may like, others not so much. Where/How will you fit into this new group?
Playing Time- Are you going from being a starter in high school to coming off the bench? Are you even getting playing time? What is your role on the team? How will you change that role if you are not happy with it? Does the coach have confidence in you to play?
Practices- You were probably used to practicing right after class from 3:00 to 5:00 pm and then going home. Now you may be practicing earlier or at night plus your coach may throw in some weight training as well. Plus on top of that you may have to go a night class after practice. How do you manage that?
Level of Play- You may have been the best player on your high school team (or one of the best), now all the players around you are just as good if not better. How do you adjust to that? How does that affect your confidence?
Speed of Play/Physical Play- The college game is going to be a faster more physical game for most players coming out of high school. Can you elevate your speed of play to match? Can you withstand the physical punishment of college soccer? Can you do what it takes to get yourself to that level?
Travel- For college, you may be traveling 2-3 hours for some of your further away games. Which means getting out of bed at 7:00 AM on a Saturday, jumping on a bus, arriving at the opponent’s campus, getting changed, warming up and playing the game. Then you have another bus ride back after that. Does that sound like fun? How about when it is in a driving rain storm and 40 degrees? Better?
Competitiveness- You may find that the competitive level of games (and even practices) is much higher than high school and can take on a nasty edge to it as well. How do handle trash talk from opponents? How do you react when you are constantly getting pushed and kicked and fouled during the game? How about getting heckled by the opposing team fans? Can you maintain your focus?
These are just some of the things that you will need to adjust to as you move into the game of college soccer. Next week we will examine more of these that will affect your transition from high school to college.
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