As players grow and mature in high school playing their sport, it often feels like playing at the college level would be the next step. Many players dream to play at the D1 level where very few of them know about the challenges that come with it. Playing D1 college is no easy task and getting an opportunity to prove yourself is very challenging. In order to dream and aspire to play at the D1 level, a player needs to understand what’s required of them and envision how would they fit in.
As a former NCAA D1 student-athlete myself and current soccer coach, I have been fortunate enough to meet and coach thousands of players through summer camps, clinics, futsal trainings, and seasonal teams. I have absorbed the attitudes, behaviors and habits of those players who have made it under the D1 ranks. There is not many of them but they were willing to work hard and make many sacrifices for what they wanted.
I have also seen talented players at the D2 and D3 level that could have easily play for a D1 school but they didn’t want to deal with that kind of pressure. They wanted to go to a school, play their sport and enjoy their college experience.
I will outline five characteristics of players who dream to play at the D1 level and why they won’t make it. These are the main reasons I have noticed based on my 12 years of coaching experience. As I mentor student-athletes and help them navigate thru the college recruiting process I highly encourage them to con side the D2 and D3 schools as there are many scholarship offers as well.
1. Can’t Handle High Expectations
There are a lot of players who don’t want to put in the extra work and satisfy the expectations of a D1 program. Just because the D1 players get all the fancy gear and all that good stuff, it doesn’t mean they don’t work for it in different ways. They work hard to represent their schools. The responsibilities of the players and expectations are high and they need to be consistent. The minute you can’t perform, the coach no longer plays you as much or at all in some cases. There are very few players who can deliver consistently at the D1 level, especially in key moments.
2. Too Much Pressure
You have been used to play in an environment where you probably beat your competition badly. The reality is that you haven’t compete at a high level against the best of the best. So when that happens, you get a reality check and realize how many great players there are that you didn’t know. You start performing lower than your expectations because you feel the pressure and you can’t longer believe in yourself that you can score, compete or win as easy as you used too in the past. There is too much pressure to perform and not enough time for coaches to give you more chances.
3. You Need Better Work Ethic
You thought you worked hard all along till you played that team out of state and you really felt how much harder your competition outworked you. Some players may be less talented than you but their work ethic is second to none. You may win against those players but not unless you are willing to work hard for it. College coaches take hard working players over talented players who don’t work as hard, any day. Sorry to break it down for you, but try to get out of state and see how you compare with other teams or most importantly other players.
4. Poor Attitude
Your attitude will hold you down because in your mind you think you deserve it. You deserve more playing time, you deserve to play in your favorite position, you deserve the credit and so on. The reality is that your attitude is so poor that you got no time to reflect on your own actions. You should train hard and offer your help to all your teammates unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. As time will go on, you’ll one day realize that the things you said and did, were not the best ones. You may change your attitude and see the reality but for most players that comes too late.
5. Just Not D1 Quality
Not many coaches or people will tell you that your are not D1 material. They will kindly suggest that you should keep your options open and consider D2 or D3 schools. My advise is to go to a D2 or even D3 school where you can play and enjoy your college years. In order to play for a D1 school, you really have to be a quality player. And if you are, you are probably recruited by your Sophomore or Junior year in high school.
The coaches that will give you an honest feedback are the coaches that want the best for you. You should ask them what it takes to play D1 if they have performed at that level during their college careers.
If you want to play D1 and prove everyone that you can do it, make sure that you know what you truly want. Remember that where your focus goes, your energy fallows. Don’t keep your options for D1 only. Consider schools at all levels for your own benefit. You will thank me later.
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