So you've dominated club soccer and now the soccer scholarships should be rolling in right? Well I wish it were that easy. The reality is there are only so many scholarships to go around and many great players get unseen and end up without one. This doesn't have to be the end of the road though, just because you don't go into your first year at University with a scholarship it doesn't mean you can't earn one.
Read all about advice on how to contact coaches, what kind of scholarships are actually available and the steps to take to get your own while playing at the University level. If you get injured do you still get your scholarship? What if you play poorly can you lose it? All great questions that are answered here but what you need to know first is how you qualify for one and maybe more importantly how you keep it while at school. Depending on which country, conference and team you look to join the amount of soccer scholarships any one school or team may have can vary from place to place. Doing your homework and knowing what to expect is an important step on your path to getting and perhaps even negotiating soccer scholarships from various schools.
Okay less talk and more action, find everything you could ever want to know about soccer scholarships here, read through the steps and checklist and see if you have a realistic shot at being seen and being offered a scholarship. Oh and if you don't get one and can afford to go to school without one, go to the school and earn one with your play, it will be even more satisfying doing it the hard way.
Well typically soccer players play for their local club team, coaches from various colleges and universities come see you play and offer you some amount of scholarship to join their school and come play for their team. Some of the best ways to get scouted and have the chance of getting a scholarship to play soccer is reaching out to coaches and inviting them to watch your games or practice. If this isn't an option then creating a highlight tape of your best moments from games along with a resume and references to send to coaches via email is your best route. Oh and in case I didn't mention it you have to play soccer at quite a high level to catch the interest of these coaches. Good luck!
For a great resource on how much each school can offer and what they have to give in terms of soccer scholarships for this year please read the NCSA Scholarships website and search for your future school.
Yes there are but they are rare. A full scholarship or a "full ride" typically covers your cost of tuition, accommodation, textbooks and even sometimes a meal plan at the campus cafeteria. This types of full soccer scholarships typically only exist at the top of the food chain Division 1 NCAA schools and each team has 9.9 full scholarships they can give up for the entire team. So if 10 players on the team all have full scholarships then you only have a roster of 10 players who are getting some money and the other 15 are getting zero. Typically the way it works is there may be anywhere from 3-5 players who have a full scholarship and the remaining money is divided up to several members of the team each giving them a percentage of their tuition covered.
There are two main types of scholarships you can get when attending college or university are athletic and academic. Typically (and this varies from school to school and conference to conference) an incoming student-athlete will combine their academic scholarship and athletic scholarship to create their overall scholarship package. So the importance of having strong grades is really important to be eligible for more academic money and also to quality for athletic money as some scholarships and certain schools are based on a certain academic threshold that you must have coming out of high school. On top of these two types of scholarships there are also various awards and bursaries offered at schools through the athletic department, your specific academic program or the University as a whole that are worth investigating.
1. Strong Grades - So many soccer scholarships are associated with how strong your grades are. Some schools and conferences have a certain requirement for academics you need from high school just to be eligible to receive an athletic scholarship so make sure they are at a decent level. Coaches get so many emails and requests from players that an easy way to rule someone out is if they have low grades, with so much talent available those with high grades will make life easier for the coach because he/she will know they can handle school and soccer once they start college.
2. Play On A Top Team - Scouts and College coaches have so many games, tournaments and players to see the teams that are constantly in the finals or known as the best teams will always get more attention. Get yourself on a top team if you can, it is better to be among the three or four best players on the best team around than the single best on a team nobody watches that constantly loses. Not only that clubs that have great reputations scouts tend to keep coming back to those winning sides year after year so just because of the success of the older team in your club you will have more of stage to showcase yourself.
3. Online Presence - Being a talented soccer player with solid grades isn't enough, coaches need to see you and know of you for your to have a chance of getting a scholarship. You must have a highlight video, clips of recent games, your bio and resume on hand for any email you may send out but on top of that you should be posting things on Instagram and Facebook in case a coach or someone in their circles sees it and hears about you.
4. Be Pro Active - It is your job to put yourself on the radar and get coaches to notice you. In this day and age so much recruiting is done online so if a coach doesn't know who you are or where you're playing you are invisible. It's not enough just to let a coach know you are playing at such and such showcase event, follow up and ask if you can join practice or an upcoming exhibition game that team may be having, put yourself out there and shake down every tree.
5. Spread a Wide Net - Even if there is a certain conference or school you really want to go to don't avoid contacting multiple schools and pursuing the opportunity of being on their team. Sometimes we get so focused on one school that we get blinded by the other great opportunities that may be coming our way. Be sure to shop around and see what other schools have to offer even if you think you wouldn't want to go there you never know what school you may fall in love with in the end.
There are a couple of levels to this you should be aware of. Typically the Head Coach will make the final decision but that doesn't mean they weren't convinced to make that decision by someone on their staff or their boss (aka Athletic Director). Typically the Athletic Director sets out the amount of scholarship money that can be used for any particular team, an assistant coach on the staff will be in charge of scouting and will present the different players to the Head Coach to consider who gets offered a scholarship and who does not. Although identifying recruits is typically the job of the assistant coach it really is all hands on deck when it comes to the most important part of any sports team, recruiting. So the head coach gets final say on who gets what scholarship they are certainly influenced by their staff on how much and to whom to off them.
At many schools absolutely! There are several cases where players get recruited by a team and either aren't offered a scholarship (just a spot on the team) or don't qualify for one for whatever reason then become eligible for one in their second year and above. Many times a coach will have a conversation with a player about what they need to do to earn a scholarship on the team after their first year. These things may include academic requirements, becoming a starter on the field etc. Other times a coach may really want you but doesn't have scholarship money left for that year and you may have to wait until some of it frees up for you in year two.
This is an important question and it's important to know that there are different types of soccer scholarships with different stipulations in them. Some scholarships are guaranteed for four years and as long as you continue to meet the academic and team requirements you will get that scholarship every year. Other schools offer scholarships on a year to year basis where they can adjust or change the amount (for better or worse) based on your performance and overall impact on the team. If you sign with a school that offer you a scholarship and it is guaranteed over four years then having it removed due to injury is not likely, where if it is a renewable year to year contract a bad injury could lead to you losing your entire scholarship. I want to stress that most schools try not to do anything to student athletes to hinder them from graduating (like taking away their scholarships) although in some cases it does happen for different reasons.
1. Bad Grades - The single worst thing you can do to close doors before they even have a chance of opening is have terrible grades. Not only does it hinder you chances of being eligible for soccer scholarships it puts a bad taste in coaches mouths with regards to your discipline, focus and ability to handle soccer and school at the same time.
2. Waiting for Things to Happen - Waiting for a college coach to call you is wishful thinking, your job is to be actively contacting all the schools you want to attend and find out if they are in need of a player of your qualities. Time will fly when you hit grade 11 and start seriously considering your options so don't sit back and wait for the scholarships to role in, go out and find them.
3. Not On A Team and Playing Regularly - "Ummm I'm not on a team right now but I train a lot alone". Any coach that has ever heard this has immediately scratched this player off of their recruiting list. Serious soccer players are always part of teams while training and playing regularly so if you want to have a chance of being scouted you better find yourself on a team because a coach can't come see someone who isn't playing.
4. Not Being Open To Other Schools - I'm sure you have your dream school, conference or state to play in but go into this process with an open mind, you never know what school might be the right fit for you and offer you those soccer scholarships you've always wanted. There is a decent chance the school or two you really want to go doesn't need your position for a couple of years and have no money to offer you but the school you know nothing about desperately is looking for someone like you to fill a need. Always be open to opportunities, never say no to a coach who reaches out and wants to chat or have you visit campus.
5. Waiting Last Minute - When it comes to contacting coaches and getting your name out there you have to start early, if you are in grade 11 you should have already contacted dozens of coaches from schools you are interested in. If you wait until late in your grade 12 year because you think you're a superstar or that coaches are going to knock down your door you will be out of luck come the beginning of the college season. Reach out early, get your questions out of the way and let coaches know who you are and when you are playing so they can come recruit you, at the very least send your highlight tape, resume and references out to those coaches in grade 11.