Can You Play College Soccer Without Playing in High School?

Most college soccer players have high school soccer experience, but not all of them. Can you play college soccer without playing in high school? Sure, but if you weren’t recruited before coming to college, be prepared for a walk-on tryout.

You can play college soccer without playing in high school by participating in a walk-on tryout to earn a roster spot as an “unrecruited walk-on,” a type of walk-on who was not recruited but joined the team via tryout. These individuals are ineligible for athletic scholarships until after completing one year on the team.

Keep reading for more information on how to play college soccer without playing in high school or being recruited.

If you want to try out for your college soccer team or learn more about the walk-on process, read the article below.

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Can you play college soccer without playing in high school?

Playing soccer in college is not reserved for only those who played soccer during high school for their school or club team. Most college soccer players played in high school, but can you play college soccer with no experience in high school soccer?

You can play college soccer without playing in high school, but most college soccer players are recruited from high school, club, or other college soccer teams. To play soccer in college without high school experience is more competitive, and players in this situation typically must walk onto the team via an open tryout.

Those interested in paying college soccer who didn’t play in high school are (not always) at a disadvantage, but let’s make one thing clear: it’s possible and, even more encouraging, not uncommon.

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You can play at any point in college by walking on. Something to note, though, is that not all college soccer teams offer walk-on tryouts. The good news is that the teams that do will welcome most players to the tryout, including those with no high school experience.

High school soccer players that go on to play in college are almost always in talks with college coaches before graduating. They usually have their roster spot secured and are committed to attending and playing at that institution.

On the flip side, people who didn’t play high school or club soccer generally haven’t communicated with a college soccer coach, though that’s not always the case. Some may have planned to play soccer in college but decided not to.

Starting the recruiting process early and communicating with coaches gives you a better chance of getting recruited and earning yourself a roster spot compared to walking onto a team.

At the end of the day, anyone can play college soccer with or without high school soccer experience.

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One option that might better suit those who didn’t play in high school is college club soccer. Many institutions have varsity and club soccer teams.

If you want to play college soccer but aren’t interested in competing at the varsity level or can’t join the varsity team for one reason or another, club soccer might be a good fit for you.

Can you play college soccer without being recruited?

Someone who either didn’t play soccer in high school or did but didn’t get recruited might be wondering, “Can you play college soccer without being recruited?” For either of these situations, the answer is the same.

You can play college soccer without being recruited by walking onto the team via a walk-on tryout. Walk-on tryouts are a type of tryout where players interested in playing for a college team but weren’t recruited or offered a roster spot showcase their skills to the coaching staff in hopes of receiving an offer to join the team.

Whether you played in high school or not, you can play college ball without getting recruited by a coach or the university. This is the “walk-on” you commonly think of when you hear the term; an unrecruited individual who attends a university or institution but does not commit to the team.

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College soccer recruiting certainly benefits high school students looking to play in college, but it isn’t the end-all-be-all of playing at that level.

However, it’s strongly recommended that high school students reach out to college coaches or play in college showcase tournaments with a club team to maximize their odds of playing college soccer by participating in the recruiting process.

Non-recruited individuals can try to join a college team as a walk-on should things not pan out as anticipated.

If the college soccer team hosts walk-on tryouts, you can join the team. To find out if a team holds tryouts, contact the coach or a coaching staff member and ask about the possibility of joining the team.

Walk-ons cannot receive scholarships in their first year with a team but can receive them after their first year.

Can you play college soccer without a scholarship?

Athletic scholarships are awarded to top-performing athletes and are typically reserved for recruited players. That doesn’t mean you’re not eligible, even if you didn’t play in high school.

You can play college soccer without a scholarship in any division. Most college soccer players are not on an athletic scholarship and receive no monetary compensation from the team. The maximum number of athletic scholarships per men’s Division 1, 2, and 3 college soccer teams is 9.9; 9; and 0, respectively.

Women’s Division 1 and 2 college soccer teams are permitted a maximum of 14 and 9.9 scholarships, respectively. Division 3 schools are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships.

All unrecruited walk-on players are ineligible for a scholarship in their first season.

Don’t let this deter you from playing college soccer. Whether you got recruited and signed a letter of intent or if you walked onto the team from a tryout, there’s always a possibility to earn a scholarship.

Scholarships for college sports are extremely competitive, so it’s best to know early what you can do to get one yourself. The best advice I can give is to talk directly to the coach about scholarship possibilities for you going forward.

Can you play club soccer in college without playing in high school?

College club soccer teams come in all shapes and sizes, and the one at your university might be the right fit for you. Consider joining the club team if you want to play soccer in college but didn’t play in high school.

You can play club soccer in college without playing in high school by trying out for the team. College club soccer is generally less competitive than varsity and requires less commitment. However, some club teams are highly competitive and skilled, potentially making tryouts more difficult.

The NCAA or the institution does not govern Club soccer teams. They often are coached and organized by the students themselves. Some teams have a coaching staff, and some don’t.

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These types of things vary widely from school to school, but almost all college club soccer teams are less competitive than their varsity counterparts.

That’s not to say that club college soccer teams aren’t competitive (or talented). There is a national championship every year where the best teams compete against each other in a tournament layout, similar to the NCAA College Cup.

The 2023 NIRSA national soccer championships for club soccer will be held from November 16-18 in Round Rock, Texas.

Sean Tinney

I’m Sean Tinney, a lifetime soccer player and Ball At Your Feet owner. This website is a hub for practical soccer advice, information, and insights from one player to another.

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