The love for soccer is growing rapidly in the country. Colleges and other organizations are promoting the sport by offering scholarships to soccer players.
A soccer scholarship can definitely be of tremendous benefit for anyone. But how do you get a soccer scholarship? This article will address this question in detail. Let’s get going.
Playing in High School
To improve your chances of getting a soccer scholarship, ensure that you accumulate some soccer experience before you get to high school.
Most soccer players that get scholarships begin playing in children’s soccer leagues and then progress to play for school teams and private clubs. By the time they get to high school, they have years of soccer experience.
Some elite players begin playing soccer while in their teenage years, but this is not the typical scenario.
Training and practicing in amateur circles will make you better and set you up for a great soccer career ahead. For most people, becoming great at playing soccer takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Cases of natural soccer talent are not very common.
Make a decision on whether to specialize
When starting out, many young sports enthusiasts tend to play multiple sports such as football, basketball, and soccer.
They play a different sport when other sports are out of season. You should decide whether you want to specialize in soccer as early as possible so that you start accumulating experience early on.
Being a multi-sport athlete while seeking a soccer scholarship has some benefits. Playing other sports when soccer is off-season helps you stay in good physical shape and can also enhance some skills that are applicable in soccer.
For instance, doing sprints while practicing for other sports will also improve your sprinting abilities in soccer.
The downsides of playing multiple sports include being at risk of suffering injuries during the soccer off-season. Being a multi-sport player can also overstretch your capabilities and therefore fail to be great at soccer, or any of the other sports.
One might also end up becoming distracted from their main goal of attaining a soccer scholarship.
Play at the varsity level
If you get sufficient pre-high school soccer experience, you can then try getting into the high school team. Most high schools have two soccer programs, which are a junior varsity soccer team and a varsity one.
These teams hold tryouts by which they determine which players participate in which of the two groups. If you can manage to begin participating in the varsity team as soon as you join high school, the better for you.
Having more experience on the varsity level will improve the odds of being picked by recruiters and college coaches.
Tryouts are open to all students, regardless of their grades or skill levels. Your aim in this stage is to be skilled enough so that you stand out from most of the other players, and therefore be selected.
Different varsity level teams have different levels of soccer skills. It is good to understand where your high school soccer team ranks.
Is it a strong team or is it a less competitive one? This will give you an idea of the benefits you can accrue from participating in it.
In a less competitive team, you are easily likely to stand out if you have good skills. On the downside, playing for a less competitive team makes it harder to be noticed by potential recruiters.
Play in the junior varsity team
After going through the tryouts, if you are selected for the junior varsity team and not the varsity team, all is not lost.
You can still become a competitive soccer scholarship recruit while playing at this level. Building a strong relationship with the junior varsity coach and enhancing your soccer skills will propel toward your goal.
The junior varsity program is an excellent opportunity that you should use to enhance your skills until you are eligible for the varsity level. In the junior varsity level, make sure that you give it your best to have a better chance of qualifying for the varsity level in the following year.
Play for private clubs
During off-season when you are not playing for the school soccer team, we recommend that you look for a private club that you can play for. Such clubs are present in most localities, and they present a great opportunity for playing competitive soccer.
Club soccer can be instrumental in improving your visibility to potential recruiters. This is very advantageous especially if you are less visible due to the lack of competitiveness in your high school team
Club soccer coaches, like high school soccer coaches, can offer solid connections to college coaches. They can be very helpful in getting your name out.
Determine which Collegiate Level is Appropriate for you
What type of college experience do you want to get?
College sports demand a huge commitment to playing and practicing regularly. It also involves traveling and skipping classes so that you can play.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is responsible for regulating most college soccer teams. The NCAA has three school divisions, with only Division I and II schools being eligible for offering athletic scholarships. These are the schools you should focus on.
Division III teams will not earn you a soccer scholarship, but playing for such teams can lead to academic and merit scholarships.
Set appropriate soccer goals
You need to be honest with yourself and objective about your soccer skills so that you can set realistic goals for yourself.
Playing soccer for top-ranking college teams requires exceptional soccer skills. You also need to be totally committed to this course in order to improve your chances of success.
By setting realistic goals for yourself, you avoid disappointments and emotional stress.
The division I and II schools have different levels of competitiveness. We recommend that you search online for college soccer rankings so that you can identify the most competitive teams.
Set academic goals
While you seek a soccer scholarship, it is important to remember that you joined college to get an education as well.
The colleges that you want to join should be able to accommodate both your soccer and academic goals.
Your academic goals need to be realistic as well; they should reflect your academic prowess. In most cases, colleges set some levels of academic performance that their athletes are required to meet.
Ensure that you meet these academic performance requirements to avoid being suspended from the soccer team.
Talk to your coaches
By talking with your coaches, you will learn more about your skill level and where you can make improvements.
This will increase your chances of winning a scholarship. Make sure that you are honest with your coaches in regard to what you want to achieve so they can offer appropriate help.
By cultivating a good relationship with your coaches, they can connect you to recruiters.
Your coaches will help you identify the skills you need to work on so that you can be an all-round player.
Talk to other players
Players that have successfully gone through the process can offer you some great insights. Ask them about their challenges and experiences as college soccer players. Also, ask them for advice on the challenges that you face in soccer.
Look at team rankings
Check out the performance records of the teams you have an interest in and aim at getting recruited by top ranking schools. Make a list of potentially great recruiters then, with time, narrow it down.
Ensuring that you are Eligible
Meet the academic scholarship requirements
Institutions will set certain academic performance standards that you need to meet to acquire the scholarship.
You also need to maintain these performance standards to keep your scholarship. The levels vary from one school to the other.
Meet the college’s entry academic requirements
Admission to your favorite college will require you to meet some entry requirements. You need first to learn what the requirements are since they are different for each college.
Ensure that you have met them before starting the application process. Information on entry requirements can be found on college websites.
Hire a tutor, if need be
If your academic performance is not up to the eligibility requirements for the soccer scholarship you are seeking, a tutor can help you make the necessary academic improvements.
If you are performing poorly in a particular subject, asking your teacher for further help can be beneficial
Also, you can hire a writing tutor to help you with the college applications.
Take care with your social media posts
Your social media posts shouldn’t have content that can jeopardize your reputation or that of the school/team you want to join.
Note that recruiters can find your social media accounts and, if they see inappropriate content, they might disqualify you from the recruitment process.
Make good choices
Recruiters not only look at your academic achievements and soccer skills, but they also look into your personality. Ensure that you are a law-abiding individual and be a decent person.
Standing Out to College Coaches
Make a video
Having a video showcasing your soccer proficiency can be of much help. You can have the video taken, by a videographer, or you can get videos of yourself taken by your club or school. The video should be relatively short and should highlight your best soccer skills.
Develop a recruiting profile
Some websites allow you to make an online recruitment profile that can give you exposure. Such a profile would contain your school’s name, biodata, soccer stats, and soccer awards. You can also attach a link to a video that showcases your soccer proficiency.
Recruiters may access your profile via these websites. The profile should however not be considered a replacement for direct contact with coaches. It should be viewed as a compliment in your recruitment process
Reach out to coaches
Once you have identified teams that you have an interest in, you may send introductory emails to the coaches of those teams. Include a resume and explain why you think you would make a great player for their team.
Your current coach can assist you to get the contact information for these coaches. You can also search online.
Respond to all coaches that reply to you.
If some of the coaches don’t respond within a month or so, email them once again.
Do your research
Do some research and acquire some information on the school and the team you want to join. This way, when corresponding with the coaches, they will see that you are interested in joining the team.
Attend showcase camps
Colleges regularly host showcase athletic camps in an attempt to attract and identify top-level soccer players. Recruiters also attend such camps looking for soccer talent. Attending such camps can be an opportunity for solid leads.
Play at your highest level
By giving every game your best, you will stand out among other players and become easily noticeable by recruiters. You should treat every game as an opportunity to improve your skills, showcase your soccer proficiency and a chance for recruitment.
Once a coach has identified you as a potential recruit, you will undergo preliminary evaluations whereby the information you provided is verified. All your information needs to be well organized, and you should be able to provide any requested info.
Subsequent evaluations are then carried out, where coaches watch you play. At this stage, you need to showcase your soccer proficiency and commitment. You should also show that you are a decent and responsible young person.
After the secondary evaluations, coaches that have an interest in giving you a soccer scholarship will make you offers. When you receive these offers, it is essential that you read them carefully and understand the content clearly. Your parents and coaches can help with this.
If you receive multiple scholarship offers, choose wisely which of them is best for you, and accept it wholeheartedly. At this point, you can now wait for the enrollment date so that you can go and represent your college with pride!