Club Soccer vs. High School Soccer: What You Need to Know
If you've been playing Club soccer most of your life then you're likely a good competitive player that has ambitions to become a varsity letterman your freshman year.
It's important to set the bar high, and don't undervalue your talents, however there are some very real differences between Club and high school soccer.
Let's take a look at some of the differences you'll want to be prepared for.
Four Year Plan
As you enter your Freshman year, it's good to remember that many varsity coaches take the long view of the players the select. Unlike Club soccer, where you may only have one season with a particular coach, you will more often than not be playing for the same coach for all four years of your high school career.
A good varsity coach will have a plan for integrating talented freshman into their program and will create a roadmap for you to follow in order to achieve your goals, so don't get too frustrated or down on yourself if you don't make varsity freshman year. If you do make it, but don't find yourself getting minutes, refrain from hitting the panic button.
Be patient, work hard in training, and keep in mind that your are starting a four-year soccer journey that is being managed and overseen by a coach with your best interests in mind.
In Club soccer, you typically only have games on the weekends, but in high school, you're going to find yourself playing anywhere from three to four matches per week. This is extremely hard on your body when you consider that quality high school soccer is played at a fast tempo and lung-bursting intensity level.
Make sure you are taking care of your body if you want to make an impact all four season of your high school career, it's imperative that you eat well before and after matches, ice and rehabilitate per your athletic trainers and coaches, and ensure that you're getting enough sleep to reach peak performance
Playing Against Matured Players
Club soccer is mandated and organized by birth year, and you do see young athletes whose bodies develop physically at different rates and speeds, but nothing will compare you to the disparity of being a freshman player going up against a seasoned senior who is three or four years older than you are.
Prepare to play against these matured players by putting in preseason technical work, arriving to the start of the high school season with an established fitness level, and above all make sure to play with confidence no matter how low on the totem pole you might feel that first day of training.
Balancing School and Soccer
It goes without saying that when you are younger there is less academic stress and life is a lot more simpler, thus it's easier to find the soccer/school balance when you only train twice a week and have games on the weekends. As you enter high school, the work load increases, as do the practices and games, so it is absolutely critical that you keep up with your studies if you want to be eligible to compete and represent your school.
Training five or six days a week plus games can be a lot to handle, so make sure you are setting aside enough time to complete assignments, study, and feel prepared on testing days by clearly communicating what you have on your plate with your parents, friends, and coaches. Your coaches and parents only want to see you succeed, and your true friends will be the ones that support both your academic and athletic ambitions, so communicate what is happening in your life week-to-week with your inner circle and avoid becoming overwhelmed with stress.
There are a multitude of differences between Club and high school soccer, but if you consider some of the ideas mentioned above, there's no doubt you can make the transition and find success in the classroom and on the pitch.