D3 Mens Soccer

I’m a current high school sophomore interested in playing D3 men’s soccer in college. I’m wondering about the level of commitment overall for D3 such as…

  • practice times
  • travel for games
  • offseason
  • missing practice due to academics
  • ability to participate in clubs and other activities


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My son played D3 soccer for 4 years, it was a highlight of his college experience, and he formed close friendships with his team and loved continuing to play and compete. For context – practice was M-F, for 90 minutes in the afternoon, but there was “early practice” where the most dedicated players came out 30 min early so practice was more like 2 hours. It took almost 30 min before and 30 min after practice to change, see trainer for any nagging injuries, get wrapped before practice, then shower, etc. after practice, so figure something close to 3 hours per day, M-F, plus matches. His conference did not have “bad” travel, the furthest was about 3-4 hours, and the furthest away games were weekends, with the closer matches mid-week. All told, we estimated that, in season, he spent 25-30 hours on soccer, including watching film, team meetings, travel etc.

His school did not schedule class after 4pm, so he never had to worry about direct practice/class conflicts. On occasion, there were times when the team would leave for a travel weekend on a Friday and he would have to miss class. Professors were fine with that, as long as he explained it up front and was diligent about making up the missed work.

In season, that was his biggest commitment outside of classes – everything else was secondary. He was involved in various campus leadership roles but they all took a back seat when he was in season. Off season, the time commitment with his team was much less, though there was still weight lifting, speed and agility training, unofficial practices, then official practices – it added up, but he figured it was in the 5-15 hour a week range in the off season. He wouldn’t have traded any of it for the world, but if someone wasn’t really into it, I can imagine it would feel like a burden.

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@Midwestmomofboys Those details are outstanding. My son is a current D3 player and your post gives more insights that he ever will :smile:

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@AmBuddha – Mine’s not particularly chatty either, but this is what I picked up in listening around the edges! I did talk through interview prep with him for his post-grad job search and, as part of that process, he broke down what he did, what he learned etc. from being a college athlete – a lot of fun to listen to him work through that!

@Midwestmomofboys - Thanks so much for all the info!

Does anyone else have any other experiences? I just want to have a good idea of what playing D3 soccer is like for a student from various schools/regions of the country.

Anything would help me decide whether or not I would want to be recruited for D3! Thanks!

@mczchl do you play club soccer now? If so, I suspect it is not all that different, just club soccer x 10 – i.e. more intense. Are you (precovid) practicing 4x a week now, and balancing school with demanding soccer? Do you LOVE playing soccer and is it incredibly important to you? If the answer is yes, then it makes sense to pursue recruiting. If no, then don’t.

Not sure I understand your question. Midwestmom answered your question with great detail. Things won’t be any different at Brandeis, Gettysburg, Sewanee, or Colorado College than they are at Denison.

There will be some differences among conferences, but in terms of overall time commitment and experience, those will be slight. Conferences set when athletes can move in and begin training and the extent of coach contact in the off-season. Some conferences will have different travel schedules – UAA is different than Centennial Conference. Some schools have classes that conflict with afternoon practice times or only offer labs in the afternoon, others don’t. Those are questions to explore when researching specific schools.

Bottom line, playing a D3 sport is a big time commitment. The kids who play all 4 years and don’t drop (barring an injury which makes them drop) are the ones who couldn’t imagine doing anything else as the central part of their college experience. Certainly recruited athletes decide that, all things considered, they’d rather put their energy elsewhere than into their sport, and they leave the team. It’s just too much work to keep doing it if you don’t love it.

Other things that can vary by school: whether 1st years have mandatory study tables or mandatory academic meetings with coaches; whether 1st years can pledge a fraternity; whether a team takes an international training trip every 4 years (NCAA permits it, but it is up to the conference/school whether to take advantage of the opportunity). Some schools don’t take the whole roster to away matches and have a smaller “travel” roster. Those are all questions to ask a specific coaching program.

@eb23282 - I was looking at some schedules and found out that for many West Coast schools, their schedules are a lot more demanding than schools in the Northeast, for example. I imagine that there are similar inconsistencies with practice schedules, offseason, etc. across schools, as well as even specific coaches. Maybe I’m wrong though… :slight_smile: I just wanted to get a better understanding of D3 across the country, more than at just one school.

@Midwestmomofboys - Thank you sooo much for all the information!! Really appreciate it. I think I’ll start asking colleges specific questions then.

Curious what you mean by “a lot more demanding”. Schedule-wise, west coast schools play the same number of games as east coast schools, and usually on the same cadence (i.e. Wed/Sat for the most part). In between there are practices. That doesn’t vary from school to school. But what will vary are the things midwestmom mentioned - practice times, travel rosters, etc. And as she said “in terms of overall time commitment and experience, those will be slight.”

@cinnamon1212 - Thanks for the advice! Yes, I do play club, and I do typically train most days in some form, but HS season was pretty challenging in terms of staying on top of school work. I guess a lot of it will have to depend on what school I become interested in and what I end up studying.

@eb23282 - For example, Claremont (SoCal) had games @ Emory (Georgia), and @ Trinity-TX and Texas-Dallas. Whitman (Washington state) had a game all the way down the coast @ UC Santa Cruz. On the other hand, Tufts, for example, had games all around the New England area, nothing far at all. Also, some schools ended in early November, while others had seasons that went into December, which I assume had to do with playoffs.

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Research the individual conferences. UAA, which includes Univ Chicago, Emory, Brandeis, NYU, Wash U, involves a lot more travel. California, Texas and PNW schools are generally known to have longer travel because there isn’t the same density of schools as found in, for ex., Centennial, Liberty or NCAC.

End of regular season is typically late Oct/1st week Nov, followed by conference tournament and then the national tournament. If a team doesn’t make it to the conference tournament, its season ends with the last regular match.

You might read up on D3 mens soccer over on the d3soccer boards – which has message boards on each conference, on recruiting etc.

@Midwestmomofboys - Thanks again! I’ll go check out the board.

Can you point me to the D3 soccer boards? I am having trouble navigating and finding that in particular! Thank you!

I think I’m not allowed to link to other boards, so if I shared the link here, I think my post wouldn’t show up.

I PM’d you with the link, and for other folks interested, if you google “D3 Mens Soccer Message boards” you should find the site. The board is slow in the off-season, especially with fall '2020 season not happening because of covid, but very active in season, and there are separate threads for different D3 conferences. Lots of very knowledgeable former players and well-informed, (mostly) judicious parents of players. There are definitely conversations about specific coaches at specific schools, and conversations about specific styles of play, individual players etc.