What Does it Take to Play College Soccer?
Excerpts by G. Guerrier
Head Soccer Coach, Texas A&M University
"The question of "what it takes for a player to compete as a college soccer student-athlete is constantly
brought before me in my travels across the nation. The answer may be as broad and vague as the question.
NCAA Division I is the most recognized level of college soccer. Players and coaches put in long hours all
year to insure success and development. These hours (12 to 20 per week, depending on the team) are in addition to college
classes, individual study and social activities. The time commitment of a Division I player is likened to be a full-time job
which thousands of players line up for every year.
Speed is the primary component that distinguishes a Division I player from Divison II, Division III and NAIA.
The technical speed of a player to take control of the ball and do it in as few touches as possible separates the top Division
I player from all others. The tactical speed to read and anticipate two to three passes ahead of play rather than just reaching
to the current pass, run or clearance determines the speed of the game and, thus, the level of play from Division I (tactically
fastest) down. The physical speed of a player is the most obvious. If players are always getting away from you, maybe you
should look for a lower level of play where you can compete with success.
A quality Division I player typically has a clear repertoire of attributes to bring to a college team. Here
are examples of the capabilities of a typical Division I player:
- Possess the physical speed necessary to break away from strong tenacious markers
- Able to hold and shield the ball with the head up while teammates move into support roles
- Show confidence and talent to take on 1, 2, 3 players en route to goal
- Comfortable and successful with both feet while under pressure
- Have superior physical fitness
- Have a superior physical fitness level
- Are physically strong and quick to avoid injury due to collision and physical play
- Possess the tactical ability to read and play within the tempo of the game
- Show the technical ability to play a controlled 1 and 2 touch game
- Able to play the ball from side to side as well as back to front of the team
- Can and will defend anytime the ball is lost
- Have the personality to play under pressure
- Possess the physical speed and strength to keep up with the nation's top strikers
- Have the gift and determination to play within a team's defensive system
- Show the technical ability to accurately play 40 yard passes to teammates and to control long passes from opponents
- Have the composure to play and create (not just destroy)
- Have the stature and physique that brings confidence to their teammates
- Have the strength and ability to win 50/50 balls and avoid injury
- Display the technical ability to make 100% of the saves in the middle two-thirds of goal and many of the bigger saves
in the corners
- Possess the leadership and social skills to get along with players and lead his defense
- Ability to distribute the ball safely in their own half of the field and penetrate the other team's half with long punts,
throws or drop kicks
- Willingness to work as hard in training as he does in games
- Display the tactical ability to play within the flow of the game
What does it take to play college soccer? The answer is "What do you want from your college experience?" If you
have the technical, tactical and physical tools to play at the Division I level, do you have the time and dedication? If you
would like sit the bench for a Division I team, wouldn't you be happier playing for a Division II, III or NAIA program?"
The above excerpts were taken from the The Sport Source, Soccer 2000 edition. Amazon.com sells the 2002 edition
and it is an excellent resource and well worth the $30 purchase price. Click on the "HS Student Checklist" link to see their
suggested checklist for what student athletes should be doing for each year.