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What College Coaches Look For

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

I recently had the opportunity to interview a college Division 1 coach who recruited a girl I train. The player was offered a scholarship and accepted. I asked the coach what he looked for in a D1 player. Below is a summary of their answer.

Here are some basic foundational things that I think can help any female player trying to be recruited:

  1. As you work up the "food chain" of college soccer from Div. 2/3 to lower to mid-Div. 1, to the Power Five programs, the most significant difference is not always skill and tactical awareness but overall athleticism, speed, and quickness. But I would add from experience training college players that securing playing time comes down to who has the better skill between those who are the most athletic.

  2. Once a player meets that threshold, the next thing we are looking for is their character and coachability. "I am as likely to watch them closely as they interact with their teammates in warm-up or after the game as I am to watch them play. I want to see how they respond to their coaches and particularly how they respond to stress. I like to say that everyone has a great attitude when things are going well."

  3. Then we want to gauge their skill level and ability to handle the skill demands of the game at a higher level. "The higher level of team and competition the player plays for and against helps to simulate what things will look like at the college level. However, even the highest level ECNL games don't wholly correlate to the D1 college game, as the style is very different. Women's D1 Soccer tends to be very high energy, high defensive pressure, fast-paced and physical. Even the highest level club games tend to be played with lower defensive and physical intensity."

If you are a player on the elite pathway, you train 3-4 times weekly. You don't have a very long break between seasons. Finding time to work on speed, strength, and mental toughness is challenging. The coaches' focus in the Academy system in the United States is on team development. It would be best if you had your training plan to keep you on track to the next level. Your potential is at risk if you're not also following a personal training program designed specifically for you and optimizing your performance.

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