Could My Child Play College Soccer?
(By Guest Contributor Shari Nomady, Co-Author of “Surviving Club Soccer. A Parent’s Journey“)
People often ask me for advise on how and if their child can make it to the college level. My first response is always, “Is this your dream or their dream?”
Once your child goes off to college you will not be their alarm clock. You won’t be there to ensure they have three meals a day and are sleeping enough to get through grueling practice sessions. Let’s not forget about getting them to their classes so they can graduate! If your child doesn’t have a passion to play, the commitment won’t be there and eventually your child will fail somewhere along the journey.
If you really think your child has what it takes to play in college then I believe you should begin making decisions based on that possibility early on. You can always start with playing in college as the end goal, and along the way if things change, you can adjust accordingly. Here are three things I learned along my daughter’s path to D1 soccer.
- Play in the most competitive division your child can as a youth athlete. This allows your child to be visible to scouts early on and to get on their radar. Note that I said, “play”. If your child is going to sit on the bench for every game, this is not healthy for them. If they are a starter, or a regular sub this is acceptable. The playing time and the regular training sessions with great players will make them a better player and desirable to college coaches. When children are younger, playing for the best teams with the best coaching is valuable. Also, make sure your child’s team is traveling to the best tournaments. This does not mean you have to travel across the country every weekend, but it does mean that you’ll be giving up weekends for tournaments. If your team is not going to the high profile tournaments, then find a team to play for as a guest player and go with them for the visibility.
- If they aren’t training on their own, they probably aren’t cut out for college soccer. I’ve watched many soccer players from age 7 on, and of the kids that went on and played in college, all had a few common traits. They juggle on their own time, practice the ball touch on walls around the house, run on their own (typically older athletes) and ask you to take them to the park to practice shooting. If they’re not doing some of these things, they probably don’t have the mindset or discipline for the demands of college soccer.
- They have healthy lifestyle habits. Most elite or top athletes realize the benefit of sleep, nutrition, and preventative care (strength training/proper warm up/rolling out) which enables them to maintain a high and consistent level of play and potentially have fewer injuries.
There are always outliers as everybody’s path is somewhat unique. But if your child dreams of playing soccer in college, recognizing the importance of these three concepts will help them achieve their goal.
Over the last two decades, Shari Nomady has been a soccer mom, team manager and served as Board President of a Southern California soccer club. During this time she developed a unique perspective on soccer through her business life as well. Her youngest daughter played 4 years of D1 soccer at Eastern Kentucky University. You can read more from Shari and her club soccer experiences in her book, Surviving Club Soccer. A Parent’s Journey.