Almost every soccer player I work with has the same goal: to obtain a university scholarship. Unfortunately, I do not believe that most of these players realize what playing soccer for a university team really involves. Without getting into too much detail, I do feel that I am qualified to speak on this subject because:
- I played 5 years of varsity soccer in university
- I have coached and been a part of the staff of several different university varsity soccer teams for the past 6 years
- I have trained hundreds of soccer players who have gone on to play university varsity soccer
…so I figured I would use this blog post to clarify things for any young soccer player aspiring to play university varsity soccer.
First off, there is the commitment to training. Most university soccer programs in the United Sates (the country where everyone wants to go to play university soccer) have very demanding training schedules. Typically things start off in mid-August with pre-season, comprising 3-4 weeks of 2-3 practices per day, including strength and conditioning, technical and tactical training. Once the competitive season starts in early-to-mid September, the training schedule may become a little more manageable, with a minimum of 1 and maximum of 2 training sessions per day. All of this also takes place in the midst of the competitive season, which typically comprises 2 games per week, until at least the end of October, if not longer for the teams who make the play-offs and/or get invited to the NCAA tournament. Of course, once the competitive season is finished, a brief off-season period in November/December typically precedes a long winter training schedule, that includes daily strength and conditioning, as well as several training sessions and exhibition games each week. For the typical first year university soccer player, this type of schedule represents an increase of 2-3 times as many training hours per week as they would have been accustomed to during their last year of high school, when even the most competitive players and teams train only 4-5 times per week.
Second, and more important than the training, is the reason any university athlete is there in the first place: school. Even the most rudimentary university academic programs require a minimum commitment of 18-20 hours per week of class, and some higher-level programs are closer to 30 class-hours per week. Add to that at least another 4-6 hours per week of labs and tutorials, and finally students must also contend with several hours per day of homework. Although I cannot say for certain exactly how much homework university students have these days, from speaking to the several dozen varsity athletes presently training with us, it is safe to say that the total amount of homework in university is easily 50-100% more than it is in high school for most students.
Basically, the point I am trying to make is this: if any teenage soccer player is seriously considering obtaining a university soccer scholarship, it is unacceptable for them to ever use homework and/or lack of time as an excuse for missing training in high school. Time management may be the most important skill any aspiring university soccer player can develop before they graduate high school. If you can’t cope with the demands of high school homework, assignments, and exams, while still attending all of your club rep or academy team’s training sessions and games, you will NEVER be able to cope with the aforementioned 2-3x increase in training and 1-2x increase in school workload that awaits you in university. Stop making excuses. Manage your time. And show up to practice. Every day.