How to get a soccer scholarship to a U.S. university

Tottenham summer camps in the UK - Soccer training

Are you interested in learning how to get a soccer scholarship to a US university? Earning a soccer scholarship to compete at a US university is a long and complicated process. But if you attend the right summer soccer camps and tournaments, attain the right information, and get started early, it can be done. 

This step-by-step guide will tell you everything you need to know about earning a soccer scholarship from learning about the US collegiate system, to eligibility requirements, to contacting coaches, to negotiating your scholarship. We also share some important tips to help you increase your chances of getting a US soccer scholarship. 

Want to learn how to increase your chances of earning a US soccer scholarship?

Tip #1 for international students

US college coaches often look abroad for talent which is great news for international students. That being said, international students often need extra help applying to US college, making sure they meet all the requirements, making sure their credits transfer, and most importantly, getting noticed by US college coaches. That’s why international students often hire recruiting agencies or attend full-time international high-performance academies to prepare them to compete at US universities. 

One of the most successful international high-performance academies in terms of earning US scholarships for international students is the Barcelona High-performance Academy located in Barcelona, Spain. Would you like to increase your chances of earning a US soccer scholarship as an international student? Click below to ask us for more information.

Tip #1 for American students

As an American, one of the biggest challenges you face is finding the proper training and formation to prepare you for college competition. Not to mention, the process of earning a soccer scholarship is almost as confusing for American students as international students. 

Many American students who are serious about increasing their chances of earning a soccer scholarship choose to attend high-performance academies both to improve their resumes and to walk them through the college application process.The FC Barcelona High-performance Academy in Arizona, USA has a 100% success record for earning soccer scholarships and professional contracts for their full-time students. It’s also a great idea for American students to gain experience at a world-renowned international academy like the Barcelona High-performance Academy located in Barcelona, Spain. Interested in your options as an American student? Click below to ask us for more information.

1. Why you should play soccer at a US college

Whether you’re from the U.S. or you’re an international student, playing soccer at a US university great way to continue your development as a soccer player while also preparing for your future in the workforce. 

First of all, the MLS (Major League Soccer) still scouts and drafts many of their players from successful college soccer teams. Playing soccer in college is a great way to continue chasing your dream to play professional soccer. 

Secondly, and more importantly, college graduates are still more likely to be employed and more likely to earn more than those without degrees. College graduates actually earn more than twice as much as their peers without Bachelors Degrees. Additionally, many of the best universities in the world are located in the US. In fact, according to the QS World University Rankings®, half of the top 10 best universities in the world are located in the US – MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, and the University of Chicago. Besides these world-renowned schools, the US is home to hundreds of other prestigious universities with strong reputations. Attend one of them and you’ll be transformed into an attractive candidate for future employers.

That being said, American higher education is expensive. Average annual tuition across the country is $40,940 for Americans attending a college in their home state, and $50,900 for Americans attending college out of state. For Americans in state, that’s $163,760 after four years. 

Playing soccer in college can be a great way to cut the costs of tuition. Thousands of colleges across the country offer soccer scholarships to help cover the costs of education and to give young, talented, players an incentive to join their team. In fact, about 50% of college soccer players receive some kind of athletic scholarship

But that doesn’t mean that there’s a 50% chance that you’ll earn a soccer scholarship. 

Tip #2 for international students

For international students, studying at an American university can be a great opportunity to experience a new culture and reap the same educational benefits that American’s experience. 

One of the greatest aspects of American education is its highly personalizable nature. American universities offer the widest range of academic options in the world with majors ranging from Comic Art to Astrobiology. American universities are also known to be flexible. Students are able to choose what classes they’d like to take within their major and at what times they would like to attend class.

Additionally, American collegiate athletes, especially Division I athletes, are treated like professionals, which means they also get to reap the benefits of professional grade, state-of-the-art training facilities. Would you like to experience life as a professional soccer player? Study and train at an American university.

2. Your chances of getting a US soccer scholarship

So 50% of college soccer players receive some kind of athletic scholarship. While 50% is quite high, only 5.5% of high school soccer players end up competing in college. 

Of that 5.5%, 2.7% go on to compete in Division III schools where athletic scholarships are not awarded. That means only about 2.8% of high school athletes go on to compete in Division I or Division II schools and have a chance to earn an athletic scholarship. Of that 2.8%, only half (1.4% of all high school athletes) actually earn a soccer scholarship. 

Only about 1.4% of all high school athletes earn US soccer scholarships. 

Getting recognized by college coaches as good enough to compete in a Division I or Division II school is half the battle. The other half is understanding all of the requirements – making sure you’re eligible, taking the necessary exams, following the rules of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), etc. This process is long and confusing and can be even more confusing for international students who are unfamiliar with the American high school system. 

3. Your chances as an international student

The United States, in general, has a notoriously low level of men’s soccer which means college coaches often look abroad to find the most talented players for their men’s soccer teams. So, as an international student, you might have an advantage over American students looking for a US soccer scholarship, especially if you’re from one of the best soccer playing countries in the world. According to ranker.com, the best soccer playing countries in the world are Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Argentina, and Spain. Click here to see how your country ranks. 

According to scholarshipstats.com, international students make up 16% of men’s NCAA Division I soccer rosters, and 20.7% of men’s NCAA Division II soccer rosters. About 74% of Division II college programs recruit players internationally, 70% of Division II, and 33% of Division III college and junior college programs recruit internationally. Furthermore, It seems like college coaches are making the right decision.  According to www.topdrawersoccer.com, about 32% of the top 100 men’s college soccer players in the country are international students. 

So, as an international student, you might have an advantage over American students. That being said, international students usually have a more difficult time understanding the scholarship process. It’s also usually more difficult for American coaches to evaluate the level of international students. Coaches either have to travel overseas to watch international students play in person, or they’ll have to present an impressive, high-quality highlight video to showcase their skills. 

Essentially, as an international student, getting noticed is the hardest part. Once the coach notices you, you might actually have an even better chance of earning a substantial soccer scholarship than American students. 

Tip #3 for international students

Getting noticed by US coaches is one of the most difficult obstacles to obtaining a US soccer scholarship for international students. Without proper connections and extra help, it’s nearly impossible to get on a coach’s radar. That’s why most international students who want to play in the US collegiate system hire recruiting services or attend high-performance academies with connections to US college coaches. 

The Barcelona High-performance Academy is one of the most successful international academies in terms of sending their students to US universities. Not only does the academy have connections to college coaches and will communicate on your behalf, but they also organize trials and invite US college coaches to watch their students train and compete. Do you want to increase your chances of getting noticed by a US college coach? Click below and ask us how.

4. Play internationally as an American student to increase your chances

Likewise, American students can greatly increase their chances of earning a US soccer scholarship by demonstrating international playing experience. Playing abroad, especially in the world’s best soccer playing countries – Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Argentina, and Spain, demonstrates many characteristics that college coaches look for in their players. 

Playing soccer abroad demonstrates: 

  • Your passion for the game
  • Your determination and dedication to improve your skills
  • A higher level of play and a better understanding of the game 
  • Courage and the willingness to step outside of your comfort zone 
  • A greater sense of responsibility and maturity
  • Leadership qualities 

All of the qualities listed above will make you a stand-out candidate amongst other Americans without international playing experience. Fortunately, there are many ways for you can gain international playing experience. 

Some ideas include: 

    • Attend an international summer soccer camp. One of the easiest ways to gain international experience is by attending an international summer camp. It’s an especially good idea to look into high-performance soccer camps. You’ll learn a new style of play which will also make you a more well-rounded player. You’ll also get the opportunity to test your skills alongside other talented players from all around the world. 
    • Attend well-known international soccer tournaments. Attending well-known international soccer tournaments is one of the best ways to impress a US college coach. In fact, many college soccer coaches and scouts travel abroad to these tournaments to scout new players for their teams. That being said, it’s also a bit more difficult to sign up and get accepted to these tournaments. 
  • Attend an internationally recognized high-performance soccer academy. One of the best ways to get a US college coach’s attention is to attend an internationally recognized high-performance soccer academy. High-performance academies are boarding schools for elite athletes who want to dedicate their high-school years to developing as athletes without neglecting their studies. 
Goalkeeper training at the Valencia High performance Soccer goalkeeper camp - How to get a soccer scholarship to a U.S. university

Tip #2 for American students

Studying and training abroad can be one of the best ways to improve your skills and your resume so you stand out as a worthy candidate for a US soccer scholarship. However, it’s not always easy to find a high-performance academy abroad that’s compatible with the American education system. 

That being said, some academies offer their students the option of studying according to the American education system which makes it easier for Americans to transfer credits and continue to prepare for the SAT and/or ACT. 

If you’re thinking about studying and training abroad to improve your skills and your resume, make sure you attend an academy that can offer you the option to study according to the American education system. Click below to ask about your options. 

5. Increase your chances as an American student domestically

Studying and training abroad is a great way to gain experience, improve your soccer skills, and improve your resume, but this option isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone. Fortunately, there are a number of soccer boarding schools in the United States that can offer you similar benefits.

Playing soccer abroad at a soccer boarding school in the US demonstrates: 

  • Your passion, commitment, and dedication to improving your soccer skills
  • Your courage and the willingness to step outside of your comfort zone and live away from home
  • A greater sense of responsibility and maturity (also from living away from home) 

All of the above are qualities that US college coaches look for when selecting viable candidate for US soccer scholarships. 

There are many prestigious boarding schools in the US that offer their students the option of joining the soccer team. While studying at a boarding school, in general, looks good on your soccer resume, it’s an even better idea to attend a boarding school especially known for their soccer program.

The world-famous IMG Academy in Florida, for example, is recognized world-wide for their prestigious sports programs. However, the FC Barcelona High-performance Academy in Arizona, USA might be an even better option to increase your chances of earning a US soccer scholarship. 

The FC Barcelona High-performance Academy is entirely dedicated to developing collegiate soccer players. That is, soccer is the only sport offered at the FC Barcelona High-performance Academy, and all students at the academy are elite soccer players preparing to play soccer in college. Not to mention, the FC Barcelona High-performance Academy has a 100% success rate in earning US soccer scholarships or professional contracts for their students.

Tip #3 for American students

If you really want to make the most of a boarding school education domestically and increase your chances of earning a US soccer scholarship, make sure you attend a boarding school that specializes in developing collegiate soccer players. Better yet, attend a school with a proven track record of success. Are you an American student? Click below to ask us about your best boarding school options as an American student. 

6. Get to know the US collegiate system

Sports play a major role in the US education system from junior high school (11 or 12 years old) through college. Likewise, education plays a major role in developing professional athletes in the US. Many professional sports organizations, not just the MLS (Major League Soccer), scout and draft professional athletes from Division I and Division II schools. 

Organizations governing collegiate sports 

Since sports and education are so connected in the United States, it’s no surprise that many organizations exist to regulate contracts between student-athletes, university coaches, and professional sports teams. The main purpose of such organizations is to make sure that students prioritize their education and that athletes don’t take advantage of students or convince them to give priority to their athletic careers. The NCAA’s mission, for example, is “to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.”

The NCAA isn’t the only major sanctioning organization governing collegiate athletics. Other major organizations include the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The NCAA is by far the biggest, most powerful organization of the three. While the NCAA governs around 1,200 schools and around 126,000 student-athletes, the NAIA only consists of 250 schools and 65,000 athletes. NCAA Divisions I and II schools provide more than $2.9 billion in athletics scholarships. The NAIA provides around $600 million in athletic scholarships

The NCAA, the NAIA, and the NJCAA each have different rules and regulations to establish eligibility of student-athletes to compete in the collegiate sports they govern. Such rules might include core class requirements, rules regarding when coaches can contact players and vice versa, minimum standardized test scores, minimum GPA (Grade Point Average) requirements, etc.

Since the NCAA is by far the largest organization, in this guide, we’ll discuss rules, regulations, and eligibility for the NCAA. For more information about the NAIA click here. Fore more information about the NJCAA click here. For more information about the NCAA’s eligibility requirements, please continue to chapter four. 

7. Check eligibility requirements for the NCAA

When to start: Age 13 – 14 (8th – 9th grade)

First things first, once you get to step four and you’re checking the eligibility requirements for the NCAA, you’re on a timeline. This step, along with all the rest should be done at a specific age/grade so you can be sure that you’ve done your absolute best to earn the best scholarship possible. 

The NCAA has two main types of eligibility requirements: 

  • Academic requirements
  • Amateurism requirements

Academic requirements include minimum SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores (verbal and math only), minimum GPA scores, and completion of a minimum number of NCAA core courses. Academic requirements differ for Division I and Division II schools where Division I schools require better scores and different core courses to be completed. 

Academic requirements for Division I schools in the NCAA

  •  16 core-course credits in the following areas
    • English/native language: 4 credits
    • Math: 3 credits 
    • Natural/physical science: 2 credits
    • Additional (English, Math, or Science): 1 credit 
    • Social Science: 2 credits 
    • Additional Courses (Any listed above, foreign language, comparative religion, or philosophy): 4 credits 
  • GPA Scores: At least 2.3 
  • SAT Scores (verbal and math only): At least 400
    • GPA and SAT requirements are based on a sliding scale meaning if you have a high GPA, you don’t need high SAT scores and vice versa. 

Academic requirements for Division II schools in the NCAA

  •  16 core-course credits in the following areas
    • English/native language: 3 credits
    • Math: 2 credits 
    • Natural/physical science: 2 credits
    • Additional (English, Math, or Science): 3 credits
    • Social Science: 2 credits 
    • Additional Courses (Any listed above, foreign language, comparative religion, or philosophy): 4 credits 
  • GPA Scores: At least 2.2 
  • SAT Scores (verbal and math only): At least 400
    • GPA and SAT requirements are based on a sliding scale meaning if you have a high GPA, you don’t need high SAT scores and vice versa.

Meeting the academic eligibility requirements can be especially difficult for international students. As an international student, you’ll have to make sure your 16 core credits transfer to the American standard, you’ll have to check to see how your GPA in your country converts to the American 4-point system, and you’ll have to take the SAT or the ACT (American College Testing).

The SAT and the ACT

The SAT and the ACT are standardized tests that American universities use as entrance exams. Different colleges require different scores for acceptance. Likewise, the NCAA requires students to earn certain scores to gain eligibility. 

Passing the SAT or ACT is one of the most difficult steps to earning academic eligibility for international students because most international students are unfamiliar with and/or unprepared for the exam. It’s a good idea to attend a course to prepare you for these exams and/or a soccer academy designed to prepare you to pass the SAT and/or ACT

Additional eligibility requirements of the NCAA

As for the rest of the eligibility requirements, the NCAA has created guidelines for international students from each country. The guidelines include accepted proof of high school graduation from your education system as well as a GPA conversion table according to how grades are measured in your country. Click here to read the international guidelines. Select your country on pages 12 through 14 to review the academic eligibility guidelines for your country. 

Besides the NCAA’s academic eligibility requirements, you’ll also have to meet the NCAA’s amateurism requirements. The amateurism requirements are a set of rules that student-athletes must follow to be considered amateurs as opposed to professionals and, thus, able to compete in collegiate athletics. For more information about amateurism requirements, click here

The NCAA has created a step-by-step guide to meeting their eligibility requirements that serves both American and international students. Click here to take a look. 

NCAA rules for when coaches can contact players

Besides eligibility requirements, they also have rules for when and how coaches can contact players. As always, these rules are also different across different divisions. 

The general rule is that coaches can begin contacting players starting on June 15 of their sophomore year. However, the type of contact varies according to the NCAA’s recruiting calendar. Click here to learn about dead periods, quiet periods, and evaluation periods. There are rules for each period, and you’ll want to get to know these rules to know when you should expect to hear from coaches. 

While the NCAA limits how and when a coach can initiate contact with a student-athlete, there are no rules prohibiting an athlete from calling or visiting a college coach. If the athlete initiates the contact, coaches and recruits can talk and discuss whatever they want, including scholarships. That’s why it’s a great idea to establish contact with college coaches early on. We’ll talk about that in chapter six, for now, let’s discuss how to research your options for potential universities.

Imagen2 - How to get a soccer scholarship to a U.S. university

Tip #4 for international students

Getting to know all the requirements and making sure you meet them is one of the most difficult steps in the process, especially for international students. The first part of eligibility is academic eligibility. The best way to make sure you’re academically eligible as an international student is to study according to the American system of education. 

How do you study according to the American system of education without moving to America? You attend a high-performance academy that offers multiple options for continuing your secondary education. The Barcelona High-performance Academy offers their students the option of studying according to the American system of education. That way, credits transfer easily, students can prepare for the US university entrance exams, and students are well-prepared to succeed at American universities. 

8. Research your options for potential universities

When to start: Age 13 – 15 (9th – 10th grade)

Once you’ve researched the NCAA’s eligibility requirements, and you have a plan to make sure you meet them all by the time you graduate high school, you can start researching your options for potential universities. 

Factors to consider

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a university. Among them are available majors, size, location, total price, connections, and student life. Luckily there are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the US to choose from, which means you can be quite selective with your preferences and still end up with a long list of options. 

That being said, don’t be too selective. Step two is narrowing down your search to include universities where you might be able to compete. First, you’ll need to learn about the different divisions. 

The NCAA has three divisions – Division I, Division II, and Division III. The biggest difference between the three divisions is the level of competition. Division I is considered the most competitive division, and Division III is considered the least competitive. 

Division I 

Division I schools have the biggest student bodies, the largest athletic budgets, and the most athletic scholarships. More than 350 schools, 6,000 teams, and 170,000 student-athletes make up the NCAA Division I. Division I schools are highly competitive, and the acceptance rate for Division I athletics is extremely low. Only 1.3% of high school soccer players have the skills to compete at Division I schools. Additionally, Division I schools are the most demanding on their athletes. Division I athletes have long practices, travel long distances for their matches, and are treated similarly to professional athletes. If you eventually want to play professionally, you’ll probably want to test your skills and commitment by attending a Division I school. 

Division II 

Division II schools are next on the list. Division II schools are typically smaller, with smaller, and fewer athletic budgets and athletic scholarships. Around 300 schools and 120,000 student-athletes below to the NCAA Division II. Although less competitive than Division I schools, Division II schools are still quite competitive. In fact, the best student-athletes from the best Division II schools do have a chance of playing professionally. Many athletes that could potentially compete at the Division I level, opt to attend a Division II school where they know they’ll get playing time all four years and where they might even get some free time. At Division I schools, free time is basically out of the question. 

Division III

Division III schools are much less competitive. At the Division III level, academics take the lead. Practices are shorter, students travel less for their competitions, and schools focus more on the value of competition for the students than the actual victory. Division III is the largest of the NCAA divisions with 444 schools and more than 190,000 student-athletes. At the Division III level, there are no athletic scholarships, but students often receive other kinds of scholarships or financial aid to help them pay for the cost of school. 

When you research your options for potential universities, don’t limit your options to the division where you think you belong. Choose universities that meet the rest of your requirements from all three divisions. You might find that most of the attention you get from college coaches is from a different division than you were expecting. 

Tip #5 for international students

International students make up a large percentage of American collegiate athletes. According to scholarshipstats.com, international students make up 16% of men’s NCAA Division I soccer rosters, and 20.7% of men’s NCAA Division II soccer rosters, and about 74% of Division II college programs and 70% of Division II recruit players internationally. On the other hand, only 2.8% of Division III student-athletes are international students, and only 33% of Division III college and junior college programs recruit internationally. 

If you’re an international student, you should focus on getting recognized by Division I and Division II colleges.

9. Establish initial contact with coaches from your list of potential universities

When to start: Age 13 – 15 (9th – 10th grade)

Although the NCAA has rules for when coaches can contact players, they have no rules against players emailing coaches as early as possible. That being said, coaches receive countless emails from players and scouts every day with resumes and highlights videos attached. With so much competition, it can be hard to stand out. However, if you start to contact coaches early on and express your interest in their programs, they’ll be more likely to remember you when you send your resume and highlights video. 

Here are some tips for establishing initial contact with coaches: 

  • Start contacting coaches before the end of your sophomore year (second year of secondary school). At the end of sophomore year, coaches will be able to contact you. You want to make sure coaches know who you are before then.
  • Contact coaches from all divisions. Keep your options open. You might find that most of the attention you get from college coaches is from a different division than you were expecting. 
  • Make your first email as personalized as possible. Find out the recruiter’s or coach’s name and use it in the email. 
  • Make your email about them, their accomplishments, and their program. Congratulate them on some recent accomplishment or a great season. Make it as specific as possible. 
  • Express your enthusiasm and interest in one day playing for them. Talk about why you’d like to play for them, specifically. What do you like about their program or their coaching style? 
  • Let them know you’re working on your resume and on becoming the best player you can be, and tell them you’ll reach out again when the time is right. 
  • Thank them for their time and wish them luck in their next season. By doing so, you’re showing them respect and genuine interest. 
  • Don’t expect to hear back from them until the end of your sophomore year. Coaches can’t contact you until then, so don’t be discouraged when you don’t get an answer right away. 

10. Build your resume

When to start: Age 14 – 15 (10th grade)

Once you decide which universities you’re interested in and have contacted some coaches expressing your interest in their programs, you can start building your resume. In the United States, your resume is very important for acceptance into universities and especially for scholarships. To be accepted into a good college and to increase your chances of earning a US soccer scholarship, you’ll want to develop a complete and balanced resume that demonstrates good academic standing, advanced soccer skills, and good character

You can demonstrate good academic standing by: 

  • Completing certain core courses (as defined by the NCAA) – See chapter 4.
  • Achieving a high GPA (Grade Point Average) – Click here to learn how your GPA converts to the American grading system.
  • Achieving high test scores on the SAT or ACT (the accepted standardized tests for admission to US universities). See chapter 4.
  • High scores on accepted English exams for international students (if you’re from a country where English is not the native language). Read more below. 

English exams for international students

If you’re an international student from a country where the native language is not English, you’ll also have to take an English exam to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is the most common English language exam for acceptance to US universities. The exam is four hours long and consists of four parts – listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 

Different universities require different TOEFL scores for acceptance. Your TOEFL scores are only valid for two years, TOEFL exams should be booked months in advance, and the exams themselves require significant preparation. It’s a good idea to consider signing up for a TOEFL course in 9th or 10th grade (age 14 to 15) so you have enough time to prepare for the exam. 

Demonstrating advanced soccer skills

To earn a soccer scholarship to an american university, your resume also has to demonstrate advanced soccer skills. As far as a resume is concerned, coaches and admissions are looking for evidence that you compete or have competed in top competitive leagues or competitions. They want to see that you have experience competing at an advanced level. They’ll also want to see your individual skills, but you can save them for your highlight video. 

For Americans, Division I universities namely look for experience in the ODP (U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program) on a national team or state team, club experience in the US Development Academy, participation in major tournaments around the country, and recognition for outstanding performance on your high school team (All-American, Varsity Starter, All-State, All Region/Conference/Sectional). Division II universities generally look for participation in ODP camps or tryouts, club experience where the club travels to out of state tournaments, and varsity starters.  

Additional resume builders

Lastly, American universities look for evidence of leadership and good character. They want to see that you’ve participated in extracurricular activities (in addition to soccer) and that you’ve done some type of volunteer work or community service. 

Tip #4 for American students

For American students (and international students alike), it’s really important to demonstrate that you have advanced soccer skills on your resume. The biggest difference between Americans and international students at this stage is that international students, especially from top soccer countries, automatically stand out to US college coaches. Coaches receive a lot less applications and resumes from international students than they do from Americans. 

One of the best ways you can stand out as an American is by attending a well-recognized high-performance soccer academy. Some soccer academies, like the FC Barcelona High-performance Academy in Arizona, have such great reputations for developing collegiate soccer players that college coaches jump at the chance to sign contract players from these academies. Click below to ask us about the academy.

11. Create your highlight video

When to start: Age 14 – 15 (10th grade)

While you’re working on building your resume to demonstrate excellent academics, experience competing at an advanced level, and good character, you should also be working on creating a highlight video to send to coaches. Your highlight video can be one of the most important parts of the recruitment process. Your highlight video is the best tool you have to get a coach’s attention so they come see you live. Use the following tips to help you prepare an effective highlight video. 

  • Use a high-quality video camera. These days, most high-end phones have acceptable cameras. If yours doesn’t, you should consider purchasing a camera to create the highlight video. 
  • Use a camera stand. A camera stand can greatly improve the quality of your video. Coaches will be turned off by shaky or choppy footage. 
  • Film from a high altitude like the highest stand on the bleachers. If you’re filmed from a high altitude, it’s easier for the coach to see your tactical skills including your positioning and decision-making skills. 
  • Keep it short and focus on you. Your highlight video should not be a full match. It should be around 5 to 8 minutes of impressive short clips of your performance compiled to present your strengths as a soccer player. Each clip should include 5 seconds of footage before and after you touch the ball. 
  • Use simple editing software to help coaches recognize you on the pitch. The most common practice is to indicate where you are in the video with a simple arrow or circle. Don’t be too flashy or add too many special effects. Keep it professional. 
  • Create an introductory slide at the beginning of your video. Before you show your highlights, present some basic, useful information about yourself. Include your name, your school name, graduation year, jersey number and color, and positions on the field. You could even include your SAT/ACT scores and GPA so coaches are aware that you’re eligible to compete at their university. 
  • Create a final Call to Action slide at the end of your video. At the end of your highlights video add a slide containing your contact information along with the best way to get in touch with you. 

Once you create your video, you’ll want it to be easy to access for coaches. YouTube can be a great resource for publishing your highlight video. When you contact coaches, you can simply copy and paste the link in your email, in your resume, and again in your online profile (more information in the next chapter).  

By the end of your sophomore year (15 to 16 years old), you should already have a highlight video ready to send to coaches. You can start sending your video to coaches before the end of your sophomore year, but you’ll have to wait until the end of your sophomore year for coaches to contact you. 

After the end of your sophomore year, you should contact coaches again and follow up asking if they have had time to see your video. You should also remind them that you have finished your sophomore year so they know they can start to contact you. There are a couple of other things you should include in this email. For more information, see chapter 10

Youth soccer players compete - How to get a soccer scholarship to a U.S. university

TIP FOR ALL STUDENTS

The hardest part of creating an effective highlight video may be collecting enough footage from multiple matches. Coaches want to see footage from multiple matches because they want to be able to trust that you play consistently well, not just that you played well once in that one game. This means, you need a trusted videographer to record you playing in multiple matches. Asking a friend or parent to record you in one match is one thing; asking them to record you for an entire season is another. 

Since your highlight video is so important, you might want to consider hiring a professional videographer to record your matches. Some high-performance academies also offer this service to their students. It’s easy for high-performance academies. They’re available to record your matches all season long, and they know exactly what college coaches are looking for. 

12. Create an online recruiting profile

When to start: Age 14 – 15 (10th grade)

It’s also a great idea to create an online recruiting profile where coaches can access all of your information easily. Most recruiting profile websites are designed to ask you to provide any and all information that college coaches might need. So, in most cases, all you have to do is fill out the information they ask you for. 

The main purpose of creating an online recruiting profile is to make it easier for college coaches to access all of your information in one place. Creating a simple resume is a good idea because you can send college coaches a PDF. A highlight video on YouTube is a good idea because you can send them a link. In an online recruiting profile, you can usually add your resume PDF and your highlight video so coaches can see all of your information in one place. 

Additionally some coaches use these recruitment sites to scout players. Add an online profile to as many online recruitment sites as possible to gain more exposure. Here are some examples of good online recruitment sites: 

13. Contact the coaches from your list a second time

When to start: After June 15th of your sophomore year (right after 10th grade)

After June 15th, college coaches can officially start to contact you via email, text, phone calls or any other communication that’s not face to face. By June 15th, if you’re following this timeline, you should be finished creating your resume, your highlight video, and your online profile. If you are, you’re ready to send another email to college coaches. You should send a follow up email to the coaches you originally contacted and a fresh email to any other colleges you’ve recently become interested in. 

Here are some tips for your follow up email:

  • Reintroduce yourself. Include your name, your position, your school/club team, and your graduating year.
  • Let them know that you just finished your sophomore year. This will just be a reminder to them that they can officially respond to your emails.  
  • Remind them that you’ve contacted them before. Mention when you contacted them, and one interesting thing that has happened in the coach’s program since you last spoke. You could congratulate them on a big win, for example. 
  • Explain what you’ve been doing since you last contacted them. Preparing your highlights video, resume, and online profile. 
  • Add links to your highlights video, resume, and online profile.
  • Add a bulleted list of your best accomplishments.
  • Add your current GPA (if it’s above a 3.0).
  • Explain that you’re still interested in their program and would like to hear back from them. Make sure you include your contact information in the email. A great tip is to ask them what it would take to be accepted into their program. 
  • Ask them for advice about how to improve. Asking for advice is a great way to show the coach that you’ll be a good student. 

Here are some additional helpful tips:

  • Make sure you’re using a professional email. Something simple with just your name and graduation year would be perfect. 
  • Write an informative subject line for your email. This tells coaches your email is worthwhile and makes it easier for coaches to find your information again in the future. A good subject line might be: James Patterson, Highlight Video, From England, Grad year 2020, Forward
  • Don’t forget to use spell check and use proper grammar. Coaches need to see that you take yourself and your education seriously. After all, you will be going to college. 
  • Follow up with a phone call. It’s much easier to pick up the phone from an unknown number than sort through hundreds of emails. If they pick up, introduce yourself and ask if they’ve had a chance to check out your resume and or highlight video from the email you sent. If they don’t answer, leave a voicemail!

It’s important to keep in mind that college coaches can’t make official or unofficial visits to watch you play or have any other contact with you in person until August 1st before your junior year. Don’t ask them to come watch you play any time over the summer. You can, however, let them know you’ll be sending them a schedule soon in case they’d like to arrange a visit. 

You might also start to get emails from coaches who found your highlight video or online recruiting profile. Even if these emails are not from schools at the top of your list, it’s a good idea to respond and get informed about their program and their interest. What might seem like a bad offer to you at the beginning of your search, could turn out to seem like a good offer by the end of your search.

14. Arranging visits so they can watch you play

When to start: After August 1st of your junior year (right before 11th grade)

If coaches are interested in your resume, online profile, and/or highlight video, they’ll probably want to evaluate you in person. This is great news! Now it’s time to send the coach a schedule of when and where you’ll be playing in the next few months. 

The best idea is to attend showcases, clinics, ID camps, and nationally recognized tournaments and ask coaches to evaluate your performance there. College coaches will want to see how you compete against the top talent in the country. Unless your high school is recognized as one of the best in the country, high school soccer is usually a waste of time for college coaches. 

It’s also a good idea to ask the coach if there are any showcases or tournaments that they’d like you to attend. There’s a good chance that the coach or their scouts or recruiters attend the same few showcases each year to evaluate new talent. Make it easy for them by playing in the showcases that they’re already going to. 

Lastly, before they watch you play, make sure you send them an email indicating what you’ll be wearing and/or what you look like. It’s also a good idea to try to stand out physically from other players. Bright socks or bright shoes could help coaches spot you on the field. 

Once you’ve arranged for them to watch you play, all that’s left to do is to impress them. Here are some tips for impressing college coaches when they come to watch you play: 

  1. Attitude is just as important, if not more important, than your skills. 
  2. Coaches are looking for work ethic and hustle
  3. They’re also paying attention to how well you handle adversity, how you react if you make a mistake or if there’s a bad call. 
  4. Coaches want to see that you’re a team player and that you’re working just as hard when you don’t have the ball as when you do. 
  5. Be pleasant and respectful to everyone. College coaches want to know that coaching you and being around you everyday will be a pleasant experience. 

Finally, make sure you make a follow up phone call or send a follow up email. Ask the coach what they thought of your performance. Once again, ask them what you can do to improve. This shows that you’re a highly coachable player, coachability goes a long way in increasing your chances of recruitment. 

Tip #6 for international students

Arranging for US college coaches to watch you play can be one of the most difficult steps in the process for international students. If a college coach is going to travel abroad to watch you play, they need to know the trip will be worth their time and money. That’s why US college coaches typically make visits to only the best internationally recognized soccer tournaments and academies to scout top international talent. 

Due to their success, the Barcelona High-performance Academy has a lot of contacts and connections to American college coaches. US coaches know that the Barcelona High-performance Academy has a proven track record for developing professional soccer players. That’s why many US college coaches actually visit the Barcelona High-performance Academy during the school year to scout new talent. Ask about the academy by clicking below. 

Tip #5 for American students

It’s easier for American students to arrange for US college coaches to watch them play, especially if they tend to play in the same area as the college they’d like to attend. If you want a college coach to travel a far distance to watch you play, you’re going to have to play in a well-known tournament or for a highly reputable soccer academy like the FC Barcelona High-performance Academy in Arizona. Ask us about the academy by clicking below. 

15. Final interviews (unofficial and official visits)

When to start: After coaches have watched you play and determined you have the skills to play for their team.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Making it all the way to step twelve requires a lot of talent and, more than anything, a lot of perseverance. Step twelve is visiting the college on an official or unofficial visit, and it’s usually the last step in the process before a coach offers you a position on the team and, hopefully, a soccer scholarship. 

If a coach likes the way you play, they’ll probably invite you to visit the college campus on an unofficial or official visit. On unofficial visits, you pay for your own trip. On official visits, the school will pay you to visit. Unofficial visits are a lot more popular than official visits. It’s quite rare for a college to organize official visits. 

Advice for unofficial and official visits

It’s important to recognize that just because you were invited to visit the college doesn’t mean that you’ve sealed the deal. Many coaches like to use official and unofficial visits as your final evaluation. It’s a chance for the coach to get to know you personally to determine whether you’d be a good fit for the team. Likewise, it’s a chance for you to get to know the coach and the campus to decide for yourself whether the college would be a good fit for you. 

Typically, for both official and unofficial visits, the coach will invite you to the campus to give you a tour and talk to you a little bit about what to expect as a soccer player at the school. It’ll be up to you to plan the rest of your visit. 

Here are some tips to impress your coach on both unofficial and official visits: 

  • Don’t let your parents steal the show. Parents often become overactive in the process of contacting coaches and even communicating with coaches during visits. It’s important for parents to get involved but behind the scenes. During unofficial visits, the student-athletes should be the ones doing the talking. When parents steal the show, it seems like the parents are the ones who are passionate about the school rather than the athletes. 
  • Be respectful and engaging. If you make the team, you and the coach will be spending a lot of time together. It’s important to get along and communicate well together. Listen when the coach is speaking and ask questions. 
  • Ask a lot of questions. Asking a lot of questions is one of the best ways to appear interested and passionate about the program.  Some good questions to ask are when, where, and how often the team trains; why the coach became interested in your specifically; what the typical day-to-day life of a player is like; if the team has any specific philosophy or mantra they live by. 
  • Dress properly. You don’t have to impress the coach with your fashion sense, but you should look like you want to be there and not like you just rolled out of bed. Avoid ripped jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts, flip flops, and caps. Also, it’s not a bad idea to bring some workout clothes and shoes in case you’re invited to train with the team. 

Here are some tips to help you picture your life as a soccer player at the college: 

  • Visit the rest of the facilities including the library, the dining hall, and the classrooms and lecture halls.
  • Have a meal in the dining hall. You’ll be eating this food for the next four years… 
  • Get to know the housing options. Would you be living on-campus or off-campus? What is resident life like? 
  • Meet your teammates and consider staying overnight with one of them. Ask the coach is this is an option for you. 
  • Speak to your future academic advisor or one of the professors in the department of your major. 

The NCAA has some rules for unofficial and official visits. 

Unofficial visits:

  • You can take as many unofficial visits as you want. 
  • Coaches are allowed to provide you with three tickets to home sports events in the form of passes (not hard tickets). 

Official visits: 

  • For Division I and Division II schools, you can only attend five official visits and only one per school. 
  • During official visits, colleges can pay for transportation to and from campus, accommodation, three meals a day for you and your parents, and entertainment expenses including three tickets to a home sports event. Make sure they don’t try to cover any additional expenses. In the eyes of the NCAA, this would be considered bribery and is not allowed. 
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16. Receive and negotiate your offer

When to start: After your visit or, for international students, after reviewing your highlight video and profile. 

If you’ve impressed the coach with your visit, and they think you’d be a good fit for the team, you’ll receive either a verbal or a formal/written offer. You’ll either receive the scholarship directly, through your high school coach, or through your club team coach. The offer might just be acceptance onto the team, but, hopefully, the offer also includes a scholarship.

First things first, if you do receive a scholarship offer, express your gratitude! The first thing you should do is thank the coach. 

Secondly, you should review the offer carefully. Chances are high that the offer comes with specific conditions like maintaining a specific GPA or enrolling in a minimum number of credits each semester. The offer might even contain a clause stating that the team would like to “redshirt you” for a year. Redshirting you would mean delaying or suspending your participation in competition for a year to lengthen your period of eligibility. Once you start competing, you’re only eligible for four years. So if the university redshirts you, it means they want to train you for a year to improve your skills before you start your four years of competition. Click here to learn more about other types of scholarship offers. 

Now, before you jump to accept the offer, you might want to consider negotiating for a better offer. BE CAREFUL negotiating. The reality of the situation is that scholarship offers are rare and great scholarship offers where the school pays for at least half of your tuition is even more rare. That being said, if you’ve received multiple scholarship offers, you might be able to use them to your advantage when you negotiate. 

If one school offered to pay for 40% of your tuition, but you’re more interested in playing for a school that only offered to pay for 30% of your tuition, you could let your preferred school know. Tell them that you’ve received an offer for 40% from another school, and although you would prefer to play for their school, you’ll need some time to consider your options. Hopefully, your preferred school will step up and raise their offer to 40% or maybe even more knowing that you might walk away.

That being said, be careful not to come off as disrespectful or threatening. Don’t threaten to walk away if you don’t get the scholarship offer you want. Negotiating a scholarship offer is a delicate situation. You should always show respect and gratitude toward your coach and the school. 

17. Accepting the offer

Once you’ve reviewed and negotiated the offer and feel like the school and the team is the best option for you, it’s time to accept the offer! 

First, you’ll need to email or call your coach to inform them of your decision to accept the offer. Make sure you thank them for the opportunity. 

The next step is signing the NLI (National Letter of Intent). An NLI is a legal, binding contract which means three things: 

  1. You’ve committed to one year at the university. You CANNOT change your mind. The university is promising to provide you with an athletic scholarship for THAT year. 
  2. Your search and your recruiting journey is over. No other schools can continue to recruit you. 
  3. You won’t need to sign an NLI after your first year. Your school will let you know if your scholarship is being renewed after your first year. 

Many student-athletes sign their NLIs on National Signing Day which is in early November of their senior year. 

Keep in mind that you’ll still have to pass the college’s admission requirements. The majority of students apply to college in January or February of their senior year to meet regular decision deadlines. You could also apply for early admissions for a better chance of acceptance. 

Finally, CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS! Once you’ve signed your scholarship offer, you’re official part of the 1.4% of high school soccer players that have earned a soccer scholarship. 

How Ertheo can help

It’s our mission to support young athletes AND their parents as you strive for greatness in sports, education, and in life. At Ertheo, you’ll find more than just the best sports programs in the world; you’ll also find a team of caring Sports Program Consultants dedicated to helping you choose the right programs to ensure your success. Would you like to explore our soccer programs? Click See all programs below. Would you like more information about Ertheo? Click Ask Ertheo.

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