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NCAA Men's Soccer - Comparing Time Commitment Across Divisions

mczchlmczchl 26 replies6 threads Junior Member
I am a rising HS junior beginning the recruiting process for men's soccer and I am trying to determine the best division for me.

What are the differences across D1/D2/D3 in terms of time? Some thoughts...
- practice (# of times a week, # of hours each practice)
- games (amount of travel, amount of time spent each gameday)
- offseason

I know D1 is more rigorous athletically than D2, and D2 than D3, but if anyone has any specific numbers, even for a particular school rather than the Division in general, that would be very helpful.

14 replies
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Replies to: NCAA Men's Soccer - Comparing Time Commitment Across Divisions

  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5883 replies96 threads Senior Member
    edited August 10
    Your HS or club coach should be able to help you understand what talent level you are at, of course there is overlap between NCAA DI/II/III.

    Here is the most recent NCAA GOALS study, it's from 2015....this is a survey asking them to report time they spend on their sport, academics, and a host of other things. NCAA also fielded this research in 2019, but have not published results yet.

    2015/16 results:

    DI Men's Soccer - 29 hours/week in season, DII - 27, DIII - 27.

    Pages 55-57. Access the GOALS Slides from 2016 NCAA Convention on this page: http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/ncaa-goals-study

    Good luck
    edited August 10
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 25280 replies20 threads Senior Member
    There is no one number of hours for each division. A top D2 or D3 school is going to require as much time or more as a medium level D1. It may depend on how good you are. Will a D2 school give you a lot of playing time? Will you make the roster at a really good D1 school?

    I think you should compare travel required by a conference. My daughter played in a D2 school in Florida (not soccer). Her team was new and her coach didn't have the pull in the first year. They traveled OOS three weekends in a row at the end of the season, and they were exhausted. By the second year coach figured out other schools would travel to play them at home (Florida for spring break? Why not!) and from then on they only traveled out of town for one weekend per year. They started playing 11 home games, and played 2 or 3 games at conference foes less than a two hour drive from campus. She rarely missed a class.

    Travel schedule does make a BIG difference. Look at the schedules for the schools you are interested in. See where they play, when they play, and how far away that is from the school.
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 442 replies10 threads Member
    While it is women’s volleyball and not men’s soccer, I personally find the information in the Ted Talk by Victoria Garrick extremely valuable. She does a great job talking about the traveling and scheduling demands as well as the expectations of being on a D1 team.

    You can also find season game schedules from past years on the websites of schools you are interested in. They will give you a great idea of the travel schedules and distances you would likely face. If you have games every week and they are 4 states apart, that gives you an idea of how that would play out.
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  • AmBuddhaAmBuddha 62 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Generally speaking, D1 conferences cover wider distances. There are exceptions, notably the UAA in D3, which spans Boston-Atlanta-Chicago and points in between. A friend noted to me that traveling by plane is sexier than taking a bus, but I think that was before the TSA and such. On other hand, out west, maybe all conferences are huge (my northeast bias showing). Either way, I think you have to be comfortable sleeping and/or studying in a moving object.

    @Mwfan1921 shared great stats. I would concur that in-season, time required probably converges across D1-D3 soccer. Everyone squeezes a lot of (too many) games in a short (too short) a period of time. The NCAA limits practice to 20 hrs/week (4/day) but that distinguishes between all sorts of activities in the administrative accounting hell only the NCAA can create.

    Ask about the off-season commitment. There is a larger disparity between divisions, for both formal and informal activities. Even at D3, I think some schools/teams have a much larger expectation (ie, can you go abroad?). Pretty sure most D1 soccer coaches aren't keen on players going abroad in the spring especially if the year-round trend catches on (I think it was starting to gain formal support before COVID).

    Another way to approach what might best suit you: how would coach feel if you missed a practice because of a lab? How would a professor react if you had to miss an exam? At my son's NESCAC, his coach had a van take a few players with a late lab to a game arriving during the first half. No problem (except for traffic). Professors at his school forced a player in a different sport to miss a tournament game because of conflict with a test (that seemed most uncompromising).
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4264 replies27 threads Senior Member
    D3 Men's Soccer parent here with some thoughts. There is not a bright line in terms of quality and competitiveness between the Divisions. There are about 140 D1 Men's programs and about 400 D3 Men's programs. The bottom D1 programs are not necessarily a different level of soccer than the top 50 or even 100 D3 programs.

    The advice we got from a top 10 D1 program where my kid did camps bc we are in that state, was generally that D1 is close to 40 hours per week commitment in season, including film, travel, meetings etc. In contrast, my D3 son's experience was in season was more like 25-30 hours per week, though that can vary depending on distance for travel for in-conference matches. UAA, a D3 conference which includes Emory, NYU, Brandeis and Univ Chicago, involves longer travel but fewer game weekends.

    Other considerations include what are the spring season and off season commitments. D1s have a "real" spring season, with a specific number of weeks of training and a fuller schedule of friendly matches. D3s may have a shorter spring season or, depending on the conference, such as NESCAC, no official spring season at all.. Even if there is not any, or much, of a spring season, there is pretty much always off-season lifting and training. My D3 kid had mandatory weight, speed and agility training whenever they weren't in season, officially maybe 5 hours but dedicated athletes are going to spend more time in the weight room and the gym. Plus there are "captains' practices" which are technically optional but pretty much mandatory for any one who wants to see playing time. And "suggested" futsal training during lunch or other free time in the off season etc. So he estimated that off-season was 10-15 hours per week and spring season was 15-20 hours per week.

    Tolerance for schedule variations -- from afternoon labs to spring semester study abroad -- will differ by school. My kid's D3 school did not have any classes in the late afternoon, but students still had to hustle to get from a class which gets out at 4, to get on the field for practice at 4:30. When his team travelled overnight midweek, he had to make arrangements with his professor to make up the work -- not much different than D1, from what we know from friends.

    In identifying a list of target schools for recruiting -- look at finances and academic goals. There is no giant pot of money for D1 soccer players -- the maximum scholarships allowed is the equivalent of 9.9 (I think that's the right number) scholarships, spread over a roster of usually 30 players. Few programs offer full scholarships to an incoming 1st year, unless that kid is the national Gatorade Player of the Year etc. So soccer is not a magic bullet to pay for college. Then, think about academic programs -- pre med? engineering? Check rosters to see current players' majors -- are they in the academic programs you are interested in?

    Lastly, the advice we heard over and over was, imagine you have a career ending injury on the 1st day of pre-season, are you still happy to be at THAT school, even if your playing days are over? If not, give some serious thought to why you are pursuing that option.
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  • 2kidcollege2kidcollege 17 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Coach Renee Lopez has a book titled, Looking for a Full Ride. She also has a web site and runs several Facebook pages - one is for college soccer. She will be a wealth of information for you. The NCAA also has a students page and they have some pdf charts with very clear outlines of how to expect to allocate your time based on the divisions you land in. Good luck!
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  • mczchlmczchl 26 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @Mwfan1921 - Thanks for sharing the GOALS study - it was very helpful!
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  • mczchlmczchl 26 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @2kidcollege - Thanks for recommending those resources. I will check the out!
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  • mczchlmczchl 26 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @Midwestmomofboys - Thanks so much for all the detailed info!! Do you mind telling me which conference or school your son attended? So that the numbers mean even more to me...
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  • mczchlmczchl 26 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @AmBuddha @helpingmom40 @twoinanddone - Thanks all for all the info!
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  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys 4264 replies27 threads Senior Member
    @mczchl NCAC -- Oberlin, Kenyon, Denison etc. NESCAC has more limited spring season, so NCAC would involve more spring work, I understand, than NESCAC. My advice is to talk to specific coaches at your preferred schools to find out their schedule, commitments etc.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 1333 replies11 threads Senior Member
    I think the intensity of the soccer program can vary between schools within d3 as well. This probably correlates with their national ranking -- schools that are in the top 15 nationally for soccer are likely to be more intense.
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  • MrsJayBirdMrsJayBird 44 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Out of curiosity, what is the difference in time commitment across sports and across divisions? For instance, do they train more hours in T&F in D1 vs D3? Also, do gymnasts train more hours than sprinters?
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  • recruitparentrecruitparent 105 replies2 threads Junior Member
    That can vary quite a bit by sport as well as the particular school/program and league rules.
    For example, I believe it is a fair statement to say that a typical D1 Football program will be a much bigger commitment year round than a typical D3 football program. Some leagues such as the NESCAC and the Ivy League do not play in NCAA playoffs so the actual football season can be shorter. The NESCAC have even further limits for football.
    I had a kid that ran D1 track. Depending on the program, the commitment may be more intense or serious at D1 than D3 but my sense is that time wise for T&F, D1 and D3 may not be all that different, though the travel to meets could be very different.

    I am not sure about hours trained between gymnasts and sprinters. Both are a lot but I would think gymnasts typically train longer hours.

    Some sports also inherently take more time than others. Such as a T&F Meet or Softball & Baseball which are often double headers are much longer than a basketball game. I know someone that played college basketball and baseball. They did find baseball took a lot more time due primarily to the games, often double headers, taking up a complete day, plus travel if an away game vs basketball games which are usually shorter.
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