From running around freshly cut grass as a young kid to training hard on a competitive club team, for most men’s soccer players, the road to playing in college began many years before their recruitment. And that’s why gathering the necessary information and picking the right college to play soccer for is so important. Fortunately, we’ve compiled this informative guide to help readers find the men’s soccer program that’s just right for them.
From club tournaments to the best college soccer recruiting websites, we’ve outlined the major sections that will help guide student-athletes along the way on their college recruitment journey. For example, the recruitment process for men’s soccer swings into high gear in 10th grade. NCSA’s own survey of college coaches states that 74% of Division 1 men’s soccer coaches begin evaluating talent in 10th grade, and another 22% begin in 11th grade. That’s why student-athletes need to obtain club and tournament experience at an early age and make sure they ace the recruitment process every step of the way. To do that, they’ll need to know exactly what college programs are looking for.
Readers should use this sport-specific information along with our College Recruiting Guide, which outlines the recruiting process from the start to Signing Day.
The NCAA rules prohibit D1 college coaches from actively recruiting a men’s soccer player before their junior year. However, there are many athletes committing to programs before this time. How is that possible? Read up on the written—and unwritten—rules of men’s soccer recruiting. Everything you need to know about playing soccer in college.
It’s important for athletes to accurately gauge their own athletic talent. By having a good idea of what coaches are looking for in their players, recruits can compile a list of target schools that they qualify for and also determine which division level is the best fit for them. Playing against stiff competition in the U.S. Development Academy, Elite Clubs National League, or Olympic Development Program is a great way to match up against other top recruits. Comparing physical attributes and skill sets to college players is another good way to gauge talent. We’ve compiled guidelines that will help athletes find a program where they can be competitive.
Athletic scholarships are available for collegiate men’s soccer players at the Division 1, Division 2, NAIA and junior college levels. However, the number of athletic scholarships varies by division level, and coaches can choose to give out partial or full-ride scholarships. In this section, we explain more about scholarship opportunities, how they are divided up and how Division 3 athletes can find scholarship dollars.
College coaches are looking for athletes who are fast, skilled and have extensive club experience. However, the only way a recruit can make sure college coaches know who they are is if they’re proactively reaching out to coaches. In this section, we go over what staying proactive in the recruiting process looks like, including how to find the right schools, contact men’s soccer coaches, develop relationships with programs that would be a good fit and much more.
About 21% of collegiate men’s soccer players in the U.S. at the Division 1 and Division 2 levels come from overseas. Soccer programs are open to recruiting international student-athletes, but the process is more complex for those living overseas. In this section, we go over important topics for international recruits, including academic requirements and how to communicate with coaches.
While college men’s soccer coaches prefer to see prospects play in person, the vast majority of them use highlight videos as part of their evaluation process. Our former collegiate soccer coaches offer insider tips on how to make athletes’ recruiting videos stand out, including how to begin each video, the right footage to use and how to film during a game.
Club tournaments are the most popular means for coaches to evaluate recruits at the D1 level, followed by ID camps and clinics. Gaining experience on the field against other elite players is valuable, but the real draw to attending tournaments and camps is being seen by college coaches who rely on these events to evaluate a large number of recruits in a single weekend or event. It’s smart to attend, but recruits will want to pick the right event for them.
Support means something different to every student-athlete. While a solid foundation is imperative for success at the next level, having a robust support system can also make all the difference.
Boarding schools, like our partner IMG Academy, offer a built-in support system on top of soccer coaches and academic teachers. Their team of college placement advisors, experienced coaches, academic teachers, Athletic & Personal development trainers, mentors, counselors and other on-campus staff are available to student-athletes to ensure they’re prepared and equipped for the next level. The experience at IMG aligns to that of a collegiate environment, so IMG soccer student-athletes are already familiar with their schedule from the moment they step foot on a college campus.
Within IMG’s college-preparatory environment for 6-12th graders, as well as gap year student-athletes, athletes will:
In addition to taking advantage of NCSA’s wide array of resources, we’ve seen that supplementing your family’s recruiting efforts with IMG Academy’s proven boarding school experience can help student-athletes get recruited for collegiate basketball.
There are more than 1,400 colleges across the U.S. that have men’s soccer teams. The real challenge for student-athletes is to find the one that’s the right fit. In this section, we’ve laid out the differences between divisions.
While this men’s soccer recruiting guide is a thorough resource for student-athletes looking to make their way onto a college roster, there are also several websites that offer pertinent information on the college recruiting process. From club soccer tournament rankings to college recruiting news, websites such as GotSoccer, Top Drawer, Soccer Wire, US Youth Soccer and US Club Soccer can offer helpful tips.
Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.
High school classes of 2023 and 2024: Underclassmen are not directly impacted by the NCAA’s suspension of in-person recruiting, as college soccer coaches are unable to contact athletes until after June 15 of their sophomore year. That being said, during this time it’s important for underclassmen to focus on developing athletically and remain motivated academically. With high schools across the country are switching to e-learning, here are a few online learning tips and strategies to help student-athletes through this change.
High school classes of 2021 and 2022: Starting junior year, college coaches can begin contacting student-athletes, which means upperclassmen need to understand how to initiate contact with coaches and respond to emails, texts, phone calls and DMs. To start a relationship with a college coach, recruits should focus on sending an introductory email that expresses their interest in the program, explains how they can be an asset to the team, share how they are staying in shape and ask questions. Athletes will also need to stay on top of the latest news involving the extra year of eligibility to ensure they are able to compete once they commit to a program.