Trends in Youth SoccerTrends in youth soccer over the past 20 years, have shown a dramatic increase in participation. In fact, there are over 3 million players registered with The U.S. Youth Soccer Association, and that’s only one league. Not only has the participation in youth soccer rose, but so has the competition. Kids are beginning to compete in more competitive environments, starting at a younger age. This means teams are traveling all over the country to compete against the best competition. So why have these leagues suddenly increased? More players want to play at the college level, and possibly even go pro in the future. These leagues provide opportunities for players to increase their skill set, and also gain exposure from college coaches.
Personal Youth Travel ExperienceAs a current soccer player, I can agree that the youth soccer environment is extremely competitive. I began playing soccer at 4 years old for a recreational team, and quickly switched to a travel team. As the years went on, I started to become more serious about the game. Because of this, I was traveling all over the country with my team due to tournaments, championships, and even regular league games. My travel soccer experience has given me the opportunity to travel to places likes Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Florida, Costa Rica, and so many more areas. At these events, college coaches are lined up around the field, scouting out the best talent. Players are able to be noticed from a variety of colleges all over the country. Because of this soccer atmosphere, players are given avenues to pursue their dream colleges. This atmosphere was what allowed me to be noticed by some of my favorite schools, and eventually was how I earned a spot on a college team.
College Soccer AdviceI have been around the soccer environment my whole life, from watching my older sister play, to lacing up my own first pair of cleats. One thing I have taken away from my soccer experience thus far is passion is everything. At times it can be extremely difficult to balance the lifestyle of a student-athlete. However, passion is what will drive a college soccer player to not only handle the lifestyle of a student-athlete, but excel at the challenges he/she may face.
About the BloggerI am currently a student-athlete at Miami University, where I am majoring in marketing with a minor in management/leadership. The majority of my youth soccer experience was spent with the Michigan Wolves-Hawks Soccer Club. Growing up playing for this club, I realized how much I enjoyed soccer. I loved the hard practices, funny teammates, competitive tournaments, etc. Going into high school was when I finally decided I wanted to pursue a college soccer career. It was this club that guided me through the college recruiting process. After several months, I eventually chose to play soccer at Miami University. I encourage anyone who is looking to pursue a college soccer career to get involved with a competitive travel team. Work hard to improve your skills and soccer IQ, so hopefully one day you can play in college too! -Stephanie Dillon