What You Need to Know Entering College Soccer as a Freshman
Did you know it is common for half of each incoming freshman class to be cut in half by the time they graduate as seniors on a female collegiate soccer team?
A class could go in with 10 players and finish with 5 or less. Why is that transition from club and high school soccer so difficult for so many women, even the strongest club players?
There are many reasons for this, most of which lead to a basic lack of preparation and knowing what to expect. It is my firm belief we can prepare our players better than we have been ESPECIALLY on the mental side of things.
Here are the biggest problems that cause players to quit during their collegiate career, and 3 things you need to know about when entering college soccer as a freshman:
I experienced this in a severe form as a student athlete. I had just moved to a new state as an 18 year old and been thrown into this highly competitive environment. The pressure that was put on me suddenly was way more than I could handle. When the reality hit of what I was going to be enduring, the anxiety kicked in, and it never went away because I didn't know I had a problem. I thought I was just being weak. I was able to work through it but unfortunately not all athletes are.
According to NCAA, nearly one in three adolescents in the United States meet criteria for an anxiety disorder. Research shows that 85% of all athletic trainers believe that anxiety plays a huge problem with athletes on their campus. The biggest part of fixing this problem is to realize that it exists. Some symptoms may show in the form of:
- Lack of sleep
- Feeling tired or fatigued all the time
- Fear of failure
- Excessive worry
- Feelings of sadness
- Withdraw from family and friends
- Frequent use of alcohol, drugs, and smoking
- Late night partying
- Increased sexual activity
- Criminal trouble
- Missing class and practice
- Arguing with professors, coaches, teammates, and roommates
If any of these symptoms occur enough to cause a dip in performance, you need to find a solution. There are treatments and a lot of them are more simple than you may think. Medication may be god's perfect gift to you. A Sports Psychologist would be worth talking to as well.
2. Physical Demand/Overload:
College soccer is hard. It takes on a whole new level of being demanding of your body, like nothing you have yet experienced.
US Soccer is changing in it's teachings quite a bit on the amount of fitness that needs to be done and the amount of recovery time between each high performance day. The problem is coaches that were educated before 2018 are not getting that memo. There is an "old school" way of doing fitness and unfortunately most coaches use it. The "run til' you die" technique. According to the current methodology of periodization in coaching courses there should be a 72 hour rest period after each game or high performance practice (fitness day). That recommendation is rarely acknowledged even by the conferences that schedule games (it is also a reason tournaments are now on debate). What should be being done and what is actually being done are two completely different things. The best way I can say to prepare yourself is to vary your type of workouts. Here is a book of 20 workouts that will help you get "game fit". Hit the times so you can feel what it will feel like when you do these types of workouts with your team, and you will know what to expect.
To expound on my last point, injuries are more frequent due to the lack of recovery time athletes are getting. Our bodies are overworked to put it simply which will cause problems. I remember my coach getting mad at me for a pulled hamstring at the peak of my career, but in reality, whose fault was that? It was a non-contact pull. I had no time to rest and because of that I missed 4 games my senior year which was my best year by far. It was disheartening. Injuries stop players from continuing on in their careers as well as cause problems well after it is over. The best thing you can do is educate yourself and learn how to recover properly. Know your body's limit.
Because of this problem, TLG has created a "Boot Camp" July 15-17, 2019 to help girls know what to expect before heading into college. There will be 3 days of these 3 concepts being addressed:
Girls who attend the camp will get the 20 Workouts to Prepare You For College Soccer for free, and be run through a session. They will also be taught how to train themselves outside of regular soccer training to better their performance.
World Iron Man Qualifier Jessica Perry will be running through a recovery and nutrition session teaching how to best heal to perform your best.
3. Mental Side of the Game
Sports Psychologist Clay Frost will be running a session to prepare the girls how to train themselves mentally and become stronger in the mind.
This is a VALUABLE tool that we hope to expand to multiple locations in the future because it is NEEDED! Preparation breeds success.