Want To Play Soccer In College? Think About Recruitment Early

If you’re a youth soccer player, when do you start thinking about college recruitment? 

Start too soon and you risk distracting yourself from your current development. Start too late, and you risk lowering your chances of recruitment. Where is the sweet spot?

The answer is different for every player. But, there is one certainty: starting college preparation too late will significantly decrease your recruitment opportunities. If you wait too long, coaches will scout other players for your position and you’ll be forced to either drop down a division or wait on available spaces.

To maximize your recruitment options, you want to start early. Women’s coaches begin evaluating prospects as young as thirteen. To ensure you stay compliant with rules and give yourself the best opportunities, you need to understand when college coaches recruit for your sex at your desired division level.

When Do Coaches Recruit?

Women’s coaches evaluate talent at a younger age than men’s coaches. Of all DI women’s coaches, 7% begin evaluating players before the 9th grade and a further 45% begin in the 9th grade. 

In comparison, no men’s DI coach reported evaluating players in or before the 9th grade.

Men’s coaches usually start evaluating at the 10th grade. A whopping 74% of men’s DI coaches reported evaluating players between the ages of 15-16. The rest begin evaluating in the junior or senior grade levels.

For both sexes, you should think about college recruitment before your sophomore year of high school. By then, 99% of women’s and 74% of men’s coaches have begun evaluating talent. It’s imperative to give them every opportunity to evaluate you before they make selections.

When % of Coaches Begin Recruitment for Men’s and Women’s Collegiate Soccer

When Can Coaches Contact Me?

Early coach contact is restricted by NCAA rules. Breaking the rules can result in heavy penalties for you, the coach, and/or the school’s program. To maximize your chances while removing your risk of penalty, you need to understand the rules thoroughly.

DI and DII coaches cannot contact you directly off-campus until after June 15th of your sophomore year in high school. It’s no coincidence that the majority of DI coaches begin evaluating players in the same year. Off-campus contact includes phone calls, texts, emails, messages, and the direct sending of recruitment materials.

DIII rules are a little more lenient. Coaches can send recruitment materials and can call prospects at any time. Direct off-campus contact can still not occur until after sophomore year in high school.

Related: 3 Ways to Increase Your Chances for D1 College Recruitment

When Can I Contact Coaches? 

You can contact college coaches anytime via email. The NCAA rules means college coaches cannot contact or engage in recruitment talk with you before June 15th of your sophomore year. Email provides a unique opportunity for a coach to see your message without actively engaging in recruitment discussions.

This means that you can email a coach before your sophomore year, but don’t expect a reply… yet.

To maximize your use of email, let coaches know when you are playing near them. Although they cannot email you back, coaches are able to see you perform live at any age as long as they don’t discuss recruitment with you. Give them the opportunity to see you play and perform.

You can also use email to send highlight videos. They are a great way to get your footage in front of coaches without them needing to leave their office. 

On-campus camps are another great way to build relationships with coaches. They get to see you play and you get to talk to them directly. While recruitment talk is still not allowed until June 15th of your sophomore year, coaches will remember faces and conversations when actively recruiting players in later years.

Take Advantage of June 15th!

Set yourself up well for June 15th.

As soon as you become eligible to discuss recruitment directly with coaches, contact them again. Let them know you are available and interested in their program.

Do not get discouraged if you don’t hear back. College coaches are very busy. Keep track of who you contact and when so that you can follow up. Make sure you stay on their radar. 

Remember, only 9.7% of US women’s high school players, and 7.9% of US men’s high school players play in college. Start your college recruitment early and give yourself every opportunity to do so. 

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