Is the Olympic Development Program Helpful for Soccer Recruits?

(Flickr - Selma Bears)

(Flickr – Selma Bears)

When you’re looking at ways to better yourself on your way to play soccer in college, what kind of programs are you looking at?

According to an article published by, less and less soccer players are looking at the Olympic Development Program. But the changes in the program’s quality differ on the men’s and women’s sides of things, and there could still be marked benefits to participating in ODP for student-athletes without access to highly developed club programs.

“For me, this is about giving kids an opportunity,” Cal South ’97 coach Steve Hoffman told “This does, for these kids, what it’s supposed to do. Identify them for potential national teams to look at and to play at the next level in college. We’re not going to cry about it…I don’t see any negative about it. Our job in the ODP, in my opinion, is going deeper into the communities and going where we never went before. Why? Because U.S. Soccer is now challenging us. But that’s good.”

Wait. You’ve never even heard of ODP?

Just kidding. If you’re a soccer player, you probably have. But as our soccer recruiting experts told me, the Olympic Development Program has changed.

“Many families think ODP is as talented as it was ten 10 years ago,” Sean Lewis, one of our head soccer recruiting coaches, said. “But with the introduction of Academy USSDA and USSF, top talent can come from other avenues as well. So just playing ODP doesn’t necessarily mean that a student will automatically be DI talent.”

Pete Kowall, another of our head soccer recruiting coaches, agrees. “I really agree with the quote from Steve Hoffman, who is such a huge force for soccer,” Pete says. “ODP is an avenue for student-athletes to be identified. Byt years ago things changed. I coached at three national ODP tournaments for Illinois and never saw more than a handful of coaches watching. I spoke with two coaches about last weekend and the same number of coaches were there to recruit.”

We’ve written before about how to make the most out of the events you attend on your recruiting journey. “At regional camps more coaches go to get a first or second look,” Pete says. “There are several ways, now, for players at the top levels to be seen. And ODP is simply another avenue–one of many.”

So what should you do?

I’ve said it before. Unfortunately there’s no magic cleat that will turn every soccer player into a golden boot with a DI full ride. But there are many ways you can get the most out of your recruiting journey. Coaches like Sean and Pete can help you figure out what they are.

About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.