The prospect of playing college soccer can be very daunting.
You’ve been at the high school level for the past 4 years, perhaps you’ve gotten comfortable and now, you’re ready for a new challenge.
The time has come for you to take the next step in both your education and your soccer career. But the questions seem endless:
“Where do I start on the path to success in college soccer?”
“How do I know I’m picking the best college soccer program for me?”
“Can I get a college soccer scholarship?”
The problem is that you’ve got a bit of a unique situation on your hands.
Obviously, you have a burning ambition to be a success in soccer.
However, the practical side of you knows that you should probably get yourself a good education should things not go to plan due to injuries etc.
This means that you now have the issue of finding a college programme that provides you with the opportunity to pursue your dream of a career in soccer whilst providing you with a solid degree.
Not to mention, in a location that you enjoy.
Well, that’s quite the task you have on your hands!
“You” is a keyword here.
It’s there to emphasize that every single budding student-athlete is unique.
An optimal environment for student-athlete A may be the worst nightmare for student-athlete B. For some, a soccer college close to home will be ideal. Whereas for others, they will be more than happy to move to a completely new country to pursue their dreams of a fruitful career in soccer.
That’s why it is particularly important to audit who you are and what your likes and dislikes are. This will provide the basis for your decision-making process surrounding your college soccer career.
Equally importantly, you must take the time to do some research on the style of college soccer you want to play.
You’ll then be able to decide on the college soccer ID camp(s) you would like to attend. Be aware, these can vary in quality. So, ensure that you know you’re going to be coached by qualified, experienced and knowledgeable coaches who are experts in the game.
If you want our advice, you should probably seek to move outside of your comfort zone and experience new styles of play and coaching styles. This will allow you to develop as an individual soccer player.
In addition, you’ll become a valuable member of any team if you use your time whilst playing college soccer to become the type of player who can adapt to any style of play.
Perhaps this does, in fact, mean moving to a new state, or even a new country in order to expose yourself to new challenges that in the long run, will make you a better soccer player.
What are these “new challenges” we’re referring too?
I’m talking about playing in formations you’ve never played in before, learning the nuances of a new position, playing against a different kind of opponent. The list could take up the rest of this post, but here’s the main takeaway from this particular point:
Success in college soccer is often found on the other side of discomfort.
Are you willing to get comfortable being uncomfortable?
Luckily, it is possible to adapt to new styles of play and tactical philosophies in college soccer, you can watch the video below to find out how.
It’s no overstatement to suggest that soccer players are some of the fittest athletes on the planet. In fact, soccer players have been shown to run farther in a single game that athletes in any other sport.
Somewhere between 7 and 9.5 miles, to be exact.
Oftentimes, what separates the men from the boys is their level of fitness. You must be able to outwork your opponent for the whole 90 minutes or you risk giving up valuable yards that ultimately lead to conceding goals.
So, how do you get to the level of fitness you need to reach?
It’s surprisingly simple (that doesn’t mean it’s easy).
You follow a specifically tailored offseason program before even passing your first ball in college soccer. The right program for you is one that you will stick too and one that will improve your cardio, power, and strength all at once.
Wait, what about the ‘college’ part of college soccer?
Ah yes, let’s not forget that you’re pursuing an education too!
The first thing you need to do is get mentally prepared for the step up from high school to college. This step-up manifests in a number of ways:
– You must be more independent.
– You must learn to manage your own time between academics and soccer.
– You must read (a lot).
– You must develop a sense of responsibility for your actions.
– You must study for 2-3 hours for every 1 hour you’re in class.
Those are just a few guidelines, but it should help you get a rough idea of the type of person you need to become in order to succeed academically whilst playing college soccer.
A lot of new student-athletes may often find themselves struggling with their new-found freedom. And this can sometimes result in such student-athletes deciding to opt for some extra training as opposed to attending class.
This is what we would call ‘a supremely bad idea’.
Not only will you negatively affect your academic performance, but you also risk tainting your reputation as a reliable and trustworthy student-athlete with your college soccer coaches.
And that can impact your game time in soccer, and nobody wants that.
Or in other words, a college tutor.
Just like in college soccer, you can’t succeed academically on your own.
You need to build a reliable network of people around you that can put you in the best possible position to succeed. A great place to start is by taking advantage of the free college tutors that most universities offer.
Look at your tutor as your ‘coach’ as you make your way through college. Similarly, you then build a ‘team’ of peers around you with whom you study, discuss and relax with to ensure that you reach your potential in college both academically and in soccer.
You’re the captain of this team, so lead by example.
All of this reading is pointless without action.
No matter what stage you’re at, whether you’re finishing high school or you’re already a college soccer student-athlete, you can start implementing the tools and tactics we’ve talked about right now.
Your transition to college soccer is your opportunity to take your development in all aspects to the next level.
Do not waste that opportunity.
In addition to being some of the most challenging times of your life, what with balancing soccer training and college work, you will also experience some of the most rewarding times of your life.
The payoff that comes with winning a league, scoring a goal, making that game-saving tackle or acing a test is unparalleled. Particularly when you know for sure that you’ve put in the work to get to that reward.
It’s up too you and you alone to build the habits and routines of a successful student-athlete because, at college, nobody is going to do it for you.
This might mean that you spend an extra 30 minutes after a soccer training session to work on a technique.
It might mean that you write 1000 words of that paper, not 500.
It might even mean that you sacrifice an hour watching Netflix on a Sunday to focus on organizing your schedule for the week.
You must realize that it’s a privilege to play college soccer and be grateful that you have a 4-year window to bet on yourself and put everything you have into pursuing your dreams.
It may all seem a bit daunting right now, but this should be the most exciting time of your life so far. You have the incredible chance to experience a new environment (possibly even a new country), new styles of play, new people, new topics of study. The list goes on.
The main point is: embrace these opportunities.
It’s time to take responsibility.
Your future in soccer is waiting for you.
Thanks for reading!
Feel free to leave a comment below!