What is it going to take to play a sport in college? It is going to take an understanding of how you, personally measure up to fellow student athletes. Is there a sports program out there for you? Yes. Can you walk into any program and compete immediately. More than likely, no.
Speed is the primary component that distinguishes a player. Technical speed of a player with the ability to take control of the ball and do it in as few touches as possible is what separates the top players from all the others. Tactical speed is the ability of a player to read and anticipate the flow of the game rather than just reacting to events as they happen. Physical speed of a player is the most obvious. This is the ability of the player to get from one area on the field to another faster than his/her opponent. Depending on your relative speed in all three of these areas, you should look for an appropriate level of play/program where you can compete with success.
There are four basic areas to any sport. To be a successful college player you need to understand these areas and be able to perform at the highest levels in each area. Listed below are the four areas of any sport.
- Technical Skills – how well can you perform the basic and advance techniques of the sport, and how quickly. For a soccer player, this would be dribbling, passing, first touch on a ball, etc.
- Tactical Skills – how well do understand the game and the tactics required to win. For a soccer player, how well do you “see the field” and the developing play. What movements are you going to make on the field without the ball to better the teams position. Do you have the decision making abilities to help your team.
- Physical Aspects – how fit are you as a player. Do you take your fitness seriously and work at it continuously. Do you come into camp/practice/games fit and ready to play at the highest levels at all times.
- Psychological Aspects – your love/passion for the game – your mental hardness. Are you always willing to give 110%. For a soccer player this is best summarized by your attitude. Do you play a ball to win, or defend. College players, play to win.
After you have assessed yourself in each one of these areas, then consider what level of college play best suites your abilities and what you want to get out of your college sports experience. It is often said, NCAA Division I athletics is a full-time job. So perhaps Division II or III is more in line with your athletic skills and personal goals. Ultimately it is your choice and your aspirations that will make the experience a success.
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