How Good Do You Have to Be to Play College Soccer? Exploring the Skill Level Required for Collegiate Athletics

Vince Massara

College soccer is a highly competitive environment that demands a high level of skill and dedication. With over 1,400 men’s and women’s soccer programs in the United States, the competition for a spot on a college team is fierce. However, the question remains: how good do you have to be to play college soccer?

The answer is not straightforward. The level of skill required to play college soccer varies depending on the division level, the program, and the position. Division I programs, for example, tend to recruit the top players in the country, while Division II and III programs may be more open to players with a wider range of skills. Additionally, certain positions may require specific skills, such as speed or endurance, while others may require technical ability or tactical awareness.

Ultimately, the level of skill required to play college soccer depends on a variety of factors. While being a skilled player is important, coaches also look for qualities such as work ethic, coachability, and character. In this article, we will explore what it takes to play college soccer and what coaches look for in prospective players.

NCAA Division Levels

If you’re interested in playing college soccer, it’s important to understand the different NCAA division levels. NCAA soccer is divided into three divisions: Division I, Division II, and Division III. Each division has its own set of rules, requirements, and opportunities for student-athletes.

Division I

Division I soccer is the highest level of competition in NCAA soccer. Division I schools are typically larger universities with more resources and higher athletic budgets. To compete at the Division I level, you’ll need to be an elite player with exceptional skills and athleticism. Division I schools can offer full scholarships to student-athletes, although not all programs are fully funded. Division I soccer programs can have up to 14 scholarships for men’s soccer and 14 scholarships for women’s soccer.

Division II

Division II soccer is a slightly lower level of competition than Division I, but still highly competitive. Division II schools are typically smaller universities with fewer resources and lower athletic budgets. To compete at the Division II level, you’ll still need to be a highly skilled player with strong athletic abilities. Division II schools can offer partial scholarships to student-athletes, but not all programs are fully funded. Division II soccer programs can have up to 9.9 scholarships for men’s soccer and 9.9 scholarships for women’s soccer.

Division III

Division III soccer is the lowest level of competition in NCAA soccer, but still provides opportunities for student-athletes to compete at a high level. Division III schools are typically smaller liberal arts colleges with a focus on academics. To compete at the Division III level, you’ll need to be a skilled player with a passion for the sport. Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships, but student-athletes can still receive academic scholarships and financial aid. Division III soccer programs do not have scholarship limits.

Overall, the NCAA division level you choose to play at will depend on your individual goals, abilities, and preferences. It’s important to do your research and consider all of your options before making a decision about where to play college soccer.

Athletic Requirements

Physical Attributes

Playing college soccer requires a high level of physical fitness. Players must have excellent endurance, speed, and agility to keep up with the fast-paced game. Additionally, they should have good balance, coordination, and strength to help them perform well on the field.

According to NCSA, college coaches look for players who can run a mile in less than six minutes and 30 seconds, and who can complete a 40-yard dash in under five seconds. Players who can jump higher than their height and who have a vertical leap of at least 24 inches have an advantage.

Technical Skills

Technical skills are essential for college soccer players. Players must have a good first touch, ball control, passing accuracy, and shooting ability. They should be able to dribble the ball with both feet and execute various moves to evade defenders.

Players who can perform well under pressure and make quick decisions on the field have an advantage. Coaches also look for players who can play multiple positions and adapt to different game situations.

Tactical Understanding

College soccer players must have a good understanding of the game’s tactics and strategies. They should be able to read the game well and anticipate their opponents’ moves. Players who can create scoring opportunities and defend well have an advantage.

According to Soccer Blade, college coaches look for players who can understand and execute various formations and game plans. Players who can communicate well with their teammates and follow the coach’s instructions have an advantage.

Academic Requirements

GPA and Test Scores

To play college soccer, student-athletes must meet academic eligibility requirements set by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). This includes a minimum GPA of 2.3 in core academic courses and a minimum SAT or ACT score. These requirements are in place to ensure that student-athletes are academically prepared for the rigors of college-level coursework. It’s important to note that these are minimum requirements, and many colleges and universities have higher standards for their student-athletes. In fact, some Division I schools require a GPA of 3.0 or higher for incoming freshman student-athletes.

High School Curriculum

In addition to GPA and test scores, student-athletes must also complete a rigorous high school curriculum to be eligible to play college soccer. This includes a minimum of 16 core courses, such as English, math, science, and social studies. It’s important for student-athletes to plan their high school coursework carefully to ensure that they meet these requirements. Working closely with their high school guidance counselor and college coaches can help student-athletes stay on track and meet the necessary academic requirements. Overall, academic eligibility is a crucial component of playing college soccer. Student-athletes must be prepared to balance their athletic and academic commitments in order to succeed both on and off the field.

Recruitment Process

Identifying Potential Schools

Before you can start the recruitment process, you need to identify the schools that you are interested in. Start by researching the schools that have soccer programs that match your interests and abilities. Consider factors such as location, size, academic programs, and team culture. You can also use online resources, such as NCSA, to help you identify potential schools.

Once you have identified the schools that you are interested in, start researching the soccer programs at those schools. Look at the team’s record, the style of play, and the coaching staff. You can also reach out to current players or alumni to get a better understanding of the program.

Contacting Coaches

Once you have identified potential schools, it’s time to start contacting coaches. Start by sending an introductory email that includes your soccer resume, highlight video, and academic information. Be sure to customize your email for each school and coach.

Initiate communication with college coaches, and don’t give up if they don’t respond to your first message. Think of yourself as a salesman. You’re product: your soccer skills and academic achievements. Be persistent, but also respectful and professional.

Attending Camps and Showcases

Attending camps and showcases is an excellent way to get noticed by college coaches. Look for events that are hosted by the schools that you are interested in, as well as other events that are attended by college coaches.

When attending camps and showcases, be sure to come prepared. Bring your soccer gear, a water bottle, and any other necessary equipment. Be ready to showcase your skills and work hard during the event.

Remember that attending camps and showcases is just one part of the recruitment process. You should also continue to reach out to coaches and update them on your progress.


Playing college soccer is a dream for many young athletes, but it takes more than just talent to make it to the next level. College coaches look for athletes who possess both physical and mental skills, such as speed, endurance, teamwork, and discipline. It is important to understand that the competition at the college level is intense, and not everyone who wants to play will be able to make the team.

One of the best ways to increase your chances of playing college soccer is to start preparing early. This includes practicing regularly, attending camps and clinics, and working with a personal trainer or coach to improve your skills. You should also focus on maintaining good grades and staying in shape to demonstrate your commitment and dedication to the sport.

Remember, college soccer is not just about playing the game, but also about balancing academics and athletics. It requires discipline, time management, and hard work. If you are willing to put in the effort and stay focused, you can increase your chances of playing at the college level.

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that playing college soccer is not the only path to success. There are many other opportunities to pursue your passion for the sport, such as playing in local leagues or joining a club team. Whatever path you choose, remember to stay committed, work hard, and enjoy the game!