How hard is it to play field hockey in college?
There are 281 NCAA field hockey teams with an average roster size of 22 athletes. Student-athletes who want to play at the college level must keep their recruiting profile up-to-date, compete in tournaments where college coaches are present, communicate clearly and frequently with college coaches and make sure they meet NCAA eligibility requirements. With few scholarships available, remaining committed to the recruiting process and building strong relationships with college coaches is crucial. The process will not always be easy, but it can be rewarding for athletes who stick with it.
What do college coaches look for in field hockey players?
While college coaches want to fill their roster with athletic field hockey players, there’s more to catching a coach’s attention than athleticism. Below is a look at eight things that college coaches look for in field hockey recruits.
- Fundamentals: College coaches seek athletes who have mastered the fundamentals of ball control and accurate passing. These are simple skills, but they are the foundation needed to grow as an athlete.
- Communication: Field hockey requires a great deal of communication on the field. College coaches want leaders with strong communication skills. They also want a coachable athlete who knows when to speak up and when to listen and learn.
- Sportsmanship: Teamwork is critical to the success of a field hockey team. Student-athletes must be encouraging on and off the field and trust their teammates.
- Versatility: Multi-dimensional athletes that can play multiple positions at the college level are more valuable to a college program.
- Field Hockey IQ: Student-athletes need to have good vision and the ability to make quick decisions. The more experience an athlete has and the better they know the games, the more likely they are to evaluate a situation and think on their feet in high-pressure competition.
- Confidence: Strong athletes are not just talented; they are also mentally tough and confident in themselves. College coaches want an athlete who has the confidence to lead a team on the field and the ability to address failure with persistence.
- Athleticism: Field hockey is demanding on the body. Athletes need to be physically fit, athletic in their movements and fast.
- Consistency: The more consistent an athlete is across game performances, the more reliable they are in the eyes of a college coach. College coaches look for student-athletes who bring the same level of strong competition to the field at every game.
What field hockey skills are required to play college field hockey?
All five field hockey positions are unique, and college coaches have different expectations of each position. While all field hockey players need to possess the eight qualities above, college coaches at each division are looking for different experience levels and skills in recruits. Below we breakdown the skills and recruiting guidelines by tier level for goalies, field players, midfielders, sweepers and forwards.
Tier 1 athletes have the skills and experience to play at NCAA Division 1 programs. Tier 2 athletes are slightly less experienced and skilled, making them a better fit for lower-end Division 1 programs and top-end Division 2 programs. Tier 3 athletes are best suited for Division 2 and 3 programs, as they have the least experience and less refined skills.
Field hockey goalie skills and recruiting guidelines
|Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3|
|Description||Division 1||Low Division 1/Top Division 2||Division 2 / Division 3|
|Club Experience||Attended major tournament: Festival, AAU, Junior Olympics, National Futures Program||Attended major tournament: Festival Disney Showcase||Travel team|
|High School Experience||All-State, All-American||All-State, All-Region/-Conference||All-Region, All-Conference|
Tier 1 field hockey goalie expert notes
Tier 1 goalkeepers command control of the defense and coordinate the team to maintain a strong line of defense. They are unfazed in high-pressure situations and can make smart, split-second decisions. Their agility and athleticism allow them to make strong, consistent saves. They have excellent hand-eye coordination and the ability to clear the ball with a strong kick.
Tier 2 field hockey goalie expert notes
Tier 2 goalkeepers are great communicators that can clearly organize and lead the defensive team. During high-pressure situations, they can remain calm and make quick decisions with few errors. They rely on their agility and athleticism to make stops with their hands and clear the ball with a good kick.
Tier 3 field hockey goalie expert notes
Tier 3 goalkeepers have good communication skills but struggle to organize the entire team of defenders to create and maintain a strong line of defense. Their nerves can get the best of them in high-pressure situations, resulting in poor game decisions. They have decent hand-eye coordination and are both agile and athletic, which allows them to make the occasional save. After making a save, they can clear the ball with a good kick.