You are a skilled young soccer player (or what we call football in the UK) and you dream of playing as a student athlete at a top American university. Sorry to break it to you but, unless you become a viral sensation online, college soccer scouts aren’t going to find you. They don’t even know you exist! This is particularly true of international players because college coaches rarely travel abroad to watch matches and scout for players. This does not mean you need to give up your dream of getting a soccer scholarship in the USA. It just means that you must take the initiate to get recruiters to notice you.
Stop being passive. Here is what you need to do to make sure college soccer recruiters notice you!
1. Start Early
The college sports recruiting process begins early with many players making verbal commitments by their sophomore year. By November of the Junior year, many students have already signed National Letters of Intent committing themselves to playing at a school. By Senior year, most of the spots have already been filled and your chances of winning a spot on the college team are slim. Don’t wait until it is too late. We suggest you familiarize yourself with the NCAA Recruitment Calendar and also visit the National Letter of Intent website to learn about signing and signing dates.
Read our article on how to apply for a sports scholarship in the USA to learn more about the process.
2. Know Where You Stand
You dream of playing soccer at a top Division 1 school, but this might not be a reality for you, or even the best option for your future. The best way to figure out where you stand as a player is to schedule a soccer assessment. You will be given an unbiased assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, and ability to get a scholarship (and what level of scholarship you should aim for – D1, D2, NAIA). This is not something you can get from your high school coach.
3. Get Your PR Pack Ready
Playing college soccer is serious, and you should take the recruitment process very seriously. Start by getting your PR pack ready. You will need:
- A highlight video
- Your CV
- Academic records
- Copy of your athletic assessment
There are professional scholarship recruiting agencies who can help you with this, such as by taking HD videos of your matches and editing them into stunning highlight videos. United Sports USA performs these services for promising athletes which meet their requirements. Find out if you are eligible by applying here.
If your grades aren’t in order, work on them now! College soccer coaches in the USA want to know that you will be able to handle the demands of being a student athlete (emphasis on the word student!). You will also need good grades to get accepted to the university offering you a scholarship.
4. Make a List of Colleges and their Coaches
Your assessment will tell you what level of football scholarship you should aim for (D1, D2, NAIA). Once you know this, start making a list of colleges in this level which you would like to attend. Write down the names and contact info for the Head Coach and Assistant Coach.
5. Contact Coaches
Send out introductory letters to the coaches on your list. Be friendly and courteous while still showing that you are serious. It helps to mention some specific information about the college and athletic program, such as what major you are interested in and why you think you’d be a good fit for that specific team.
Be sure to include this information in letters to college coaches:
- Personalization – always include the coach’s name and not something generic like “to whom it may concern”
- Your basic info like age, grade, and where you live
- Your team name, position, stats, coach, and coach of any clubs or camps you participate in
- Your CV
- Your PR package (school records, assessment, and link to highlight video)
- Your contact info and your coach’s contact info (NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from contacting students until certain times, but they can contact you through your coach or other intermediary)
6. Find Out Where the Coach Will Be
Instead of waiting for soccer coaches to contact you, you can take the initiative of finding out where they will be, such as what soccer camps they will attend. Then make sure to be at the camp. You can even invite the coach to come watch you play (though this is very unlikely if you are an international player). Please note that Division 1 college coaches have higher recruiting budgets, so they are more likely to attend camps and matches. Division 2 and NAIA schools don’t have as high of a recruiting budget, so they aren’t as likely to travel for recruiting.
7. Enlist Professional Help
Even if you follow these steps, you will soon realize that the college soccer recruitment process is fairly complex. Aside from athletic abilities, there are numerous factors to consider like the competitiveness of schools, how to highlight your skills in the best way, academic requirements, travel expenses, negotiating scholarship terms, and more. To make sure you get a scholarship, and that the terms are in your best interest, you may want to enlist the help of a professional soccer scholarship recruiter. These recruiters have a direct line to college coaches and are familiar with the scholarship application process.