Important Questions Regarding D1, D2, D3 and NAIA Soccer

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

If your goal is to one day play College soccer there are a number of questions you should ask yourself before embarking on this journey.  Knowing the answers to these questions will help you target the schools and area you’d like to play.  In the end, it will make things a lot easier and clearer for yourself.

  • What level of play are you willing to settle for?  There are many levels of college soccer including D1, D2, D3 and NAIA.  It may be possible that you could play for a bigger school with a better soccer program but step away from that and try to look at the overall experience you will have.  Ask yourself if you’re willing to sit on the bench or be a role player versus a starter whom the coach heavily relies on.
  • How much scholarship money are you willing to settle for?  Most programs only have around 10 full athletic scholarships for soccer (something coaches won’t tell you).  This means two thirds of the team will receive smaller scholarships or nothing at all.  When you find out how much scholarship money you’ll receive you can quickly find out how valuable you are to the coaching staff.  As for promising more money in the future, do not fall for this.  This is a common tactic coaches use to convince players to join their program when they are on the fence.
  • Find out the style of play the coach likes to use.  Some coaches are all about the kick and chase style when this may the complete opposite of what you’ve done growing up.  Other coaches may be about size and pure physicality.  Once again this may not fit your style of play.  Watch the school play and study them to see how/if at all you might fit into that system.

Other key points include:

  • Do you homework on the coach and their soccer program.  If possible, speak with current and former players to learn about their experiences of the school and soccer program.  They may be able share valuable information that you wouldn’t receive otherwise.
  • Look at the program as a four year marriage.  Most players think only one year at a time and if the season does not go as planned they look to transfer to another school.  Instead look to see where you’ll be most happy.
  • Find out where you can receive the best academic degree.  Your four years of soccer will be over before you know it and it’s best to have a solid degree behind your name for when you step out into the real world.
  • 60-70%  scholarship players are used as role players.  These are often scholarships that are reduced the following year or simply never increase (despite previous promises).
  • Remember that the state schools have plenty of talent in their own backyard so you had better very good in order for the coach to recruit you.

Getting a scholarship and playing college soccer is a realistic goal for many young soccer players.  However, many players simply don’t understand where they fit into the big scheme of things.  They try to get recruited by all the division 1 state schools and give up once they find out coaches aren’t interested.  The sooner you start this process, the better.  Speak to as many players and coaches as you can.  Attend a showcase tournament one weekend and it may change your future.  Think of the entire process as a job interview.  The better you prepare yourself away from the field i.e. school, soccer program, scholarships, academics, coaching style etc.  The better your overall experience will be.

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