Playing soccer in college (especially at the NCAA D3 level) is very different from playing soccer at the high school/club level. First the competition is going to be tougher. Pick the best 3 or 4 kids from your high school team as well as your rival high school teams and those are the players you will be playing with and against. It is a challenge everyday.
While playing high school soccer and club soccer through the high school years, players will have frequent contact with their high school and club coaches throughout the year; seeing them on a regular basis with a little down time usually in December and maybe parts of the summer. Playing soccer in college at the D3 level, there are specific restrictions on how many practices a coach can lead in the offseason with his players. These are much fewer than what many student-athletes experience with their high school and club coaches. You will not necessarily see them every week for training. And lastly is the time commitment. For college soccer, especially in the fall, the time commitment is very great—much more than high school.
So some things to consider.
First, for the D3 college that you are attending, have you seen them play? You need to get a good mental picture of what the game looks like at that college and ask yourself—- can I play with these players? Am I good enough to play at this level? Am I fast enough? Am I technically skilled enough? (By the way, these are the same questions to ask yourself if you are considering D1 or D2.) If you are on the fence, be sure to go see the team play.
Second do I like working out on my own or without a coach? D3 college soccer is very different than high school or club soccer. One of the biggest differences is how much you practice (or don’t practice) with your coach and your team. Over the course of a 12-month calendar year, most D3 coaches get to work with their players from mid-August through November and then for a maximum of 15 days in the spring. (Compare this with most high level club teams that are training 10-months out of the year.) The burden of keeping yourself physically fit falls on the individual player. This can be difficult if you are not motivated to work out on your own.
Next is the time commitment in the fall semester. During the fall soccer season, you will be doing one of four things: 1) going to class/doing school work; 2) soccer practice/games/meetings; 3) eating; 4) sleeping. And generally speaking, they come in that order. In the fall season, your life at college will be about two things—going to class and soccer. That is pretty much it. Playing collegiate soccer is a big time commitment in the fall and you have to willing to make sacrifices to play.
The bottom line is this— going from high school/club soccer to NCAA D3 soccer is a difficult transition. It takes much more than just being a good soccer player to make that leap successfully. As a student-athlete, you need to be sure that you are committed to being both a student and an athlete in order to be successful. You have to ask yourself if you are ready to make that leap.
Thanks for reading! Add your comments below or drop us a line at email@example.com with specific questions.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa to everyone! I had coffee with a fellow coach from Liverpool the other day and he said he did not understand “Happy Holidays”— that was said when one went away on vacation! So enjoy whatever it is you may be celebrating. Cheers!