What does it take to play college soccer? What college coaches say

Girls playing soccer in Regis gearWe asked college coaches what are the most important skills soccer players need to be successful in their prospective programs. Their answers might not be exactly what you would think. What collegiate coaches value in their players is not just performance-based skills, however, life and character skills are equally important.

Trevor Wachsman, Associate Head Coach at Utah State University, explains. “Obviously the soccer talent is huge (technical, tactical), but it seems we are dealing more and more with players’ ability to, or lack of ability to, take responsibility and accountability for their own actions. That includes preparation, work ethic, willingness to learn, facing failures and adversity.”

From small college coaches to big time D1 Universities the theme is consistent, life and character skills are the derivatives for performance skills. JB Belzer, Head Women’s Coach at Regis University summarizes how the two link together. “Our preseason psychological fitness assessments are perhaps our most obvious way of promoting accountability within our student-athletes. Recently, our culture of being the highest performing academic team within Regis Athletics and the RMAC has instilled a new accountability off the field for the team to continually aspire towards.”

You only have one chance to make a first good impression.

I once had a college coach discuss, during a College ID Tournament, the importance for him of a great first impression. “ If a player asks me to come watch him play, I make an effort to arrive before his team starts their warm-ups. This will tell me if I will stay and watch him actually go through warm-ups and then observe his match. I watch his body language. Is he preparing himself for the team warms-up or is he messing around with his friends? Is he dressed and ready to go? Does he look at his coach in the eye when he is giving pregame instructions or is he drifting off? Preparation is everything. For me, this separates good players from great players.”

So how can you be ready when the time comes for a coach to come see you play? First, always ask college coaches, as you are considering their perspective schools and programs, “what do you look for and value in your perspective student-athletes?” Keep in mind, coaches consider more than just your ability to play soccer when it comes to making up their team. How can you prove to be an asset to the team, on and off the pitch? Are you mentally strong? Will you be able to handle your academic responsibilities and team responsibilities while fitting in with your prospective team and teammates? How you handle being held accountable for your choices will be just as important to your chances of playing in college as your soccer abilities.

Additional resources