When is College Soccer Season? Fall and Spring Rules

College soccer is a year-round commitment, whether training with the team during the season or by yourself during the summer months. When is college soccer season, and what does out-of-season training look like?

College soccer season is in the fall, from August to December, concluding with the NCAA championship. There are 15-20 games on average during a season for teams in each division. Teams that qualify for postseason tournaments play an extended season with more games. The spring season starts in February.

Throughout this article, I’ll go into much greater detail regarding the regular fall college soccer season. I’ll also cover the spring season and how it’s different for each division.

When is college soccer season?

College soccer teams are active throughout the fall and spring semesters. The college soccer season is played at the beginning of the school year. When exactly does college soccer start and end?

The college soccer season is in the fall, beginning with preseason in mid-August and ending with the NCAA championship in early December. There are between 15-20 games on average during the regular season. Teams that don’t qualify for their conference or national tournament finish their season in October or November.

College soccer season occurs in the fall, but teams train throughout the year, on and off campus.

Teams train almost every day during the fall college soccer season. On weekdays, when they’re not playing or traveling to an opposition’s university, they generally have a training session instead.

The college soccer season is a long and grueling one.

Being a student-athlete requires a deep level of physical and mental commitment. They must focus on academics just as much as they focus on training, eating healthily, and recovering for their next match.

It can be challenging to balance all this during the fall season, especially if a team makes it far into the conference or NCAA tournament.

For many teams, the college soccer season ends just before November. Although these teams don’t see any postseason play, they get ample time to recover before heading into spring training.

Two college soccer players, one wearing dark blue and the other green, jostling over the ball during a match.

How long is the college soccer season?

The college soccer season is liable to get lengthy. Teams can play a varying number of games depending on their success during the regular season. How long is the college soccer season?

In general, the college soccer season is three months long but can be longer if a team qualifies for postseason tournaments. The season starts in late August and ends in December. Teams that don’t qualify for postseason tournaments have a shorter, two-and-a-half-month season with 15-20 games on average. Some teams play as many as 28 games.

The college soccer season length for a team depends on how well they do in their respective conference and if they qualify for the national (NCAA) tournament.

Related: How Long is College Soccer Season?

Most college teams play 15-20 games during a season. Teams with better season records that make it into the postseason can play 25 or more, depending on how far they progress in a tournament.

The 2022 NCAA Division 1 soccer tournament ended on December 12, making it a four-month-long season for the qualifying teams.

Syracuse, the 2022 NCAA College Cup champions, played a whopping 28 games during the season, including exhibition and playoff matches.

That’s a lot of games, especially when some go into overtime. Thanks to a new rule, though, overtime no longer exists for regular-season contests, ensuring each team plays the same number of minutes during the season.

No more overtime means a fairer schedule and enhanced player safety, as players have a reduced risk of injury from playing no more than 90 minutes per game.

College soccer teams make the most out of each day during the season. If they’re not playing a game, they’re probably training, traveling, or taking time to recover from one or the other.

The maximum length of a college soccer team’s season is 18 weeks.

NCAA Legislative Services Database

When does college soccer preseason start?

College soccer season starts on slightly different days depending on the Division.

College soccer preseason starts in the middle of August, 1-2 weeks before the first scheduled competition. In 2023, Division 1 men’s college soccer teams can play their first game on August 24th, allowing for an August 8 preseason start date.

Preseason start dates depend on the division in which a team plays and its first competition.

Sometimes, college teams will host walk-on tryouts at the beginning of preseason.

Walk-on tryouts held during preseason give potential players a chance to showcase their skills before the season starts in an attempt to secure a roster spot for the upcoming season.

Follow the link below for a detailed guide on each division’s preseason start dates.

Related: When is College Soccer Preseason? Division 1, 2, and 3 Rules

Here are the simplified stipulations for each Division regarding soccer preseason start dates.

When does Division III college soccer preseason start?

Division 3 college soccer preseason starts in August. Teams are allowed 16 training units (practices) total during the preseason. The earliest a team can start preseason training is on a day that would allow those 16 units to be used once per day until September 1st or the Friday before.

Although the start date can be as early as the beginning of August, most Division 3 soccer teams will start their 16-unit preseason 1-2 weeks before their first competition.

When does Division II college soccer preseason start?

Division 2 college soccer preseason starts 17 days before the first competition or five days before the first day of classes. The earliest the first competition can be is the Thursday before September 6. During preseason, teams cannot train longer than six hours per day, and only five hours can be physical activity.

When does Division I college soccer preseason start?

Division 1 college soccer preseason starts 16 calendar days before the first competition, which varies each year. The first date of competition cannot occur prior to the Thursday preceding the 12th weekend before the start of the NCAA Division I Soccer Championship.

The championship dates vary for men’s and women’s teams.

I know that’s a bit confusing, so let’s look at the Division One college soccer first competition dates for recent and upcoming years in a bulleted list and table format.

Men’s Division I soccer first competition dates

Division 1 soccer will always start in August. The first competition dates are as follows:

  • 2022: August 25
  • 2023: August 24
  • 2024: August 29

Women’s Division I soccer first competition dates

Women’s Division 1 soccer’s first competition dates are often earlier than men’s college soccer. Here are some key dates:

  • 2022: August 18
  • 2023: August 17
  • 2024: August 22
YearMen’s start dateWomen’s start date
2022August 25August 18
2023August 24August 17
2024August 29August 22
A table showcasing recent and upcoming start dates for Division 1 Men’s and Women’s regular fall soccer season.

How often do college soccer teams practice?

How often college soccer teams practice depends on what season they’re in. There are less strict rules around when teams can practice in the fall because that’s when they’re in season.

Related: How Hard is College Soccer? Choose the Best Division for You

I’ll break down the general practice schedules for these teams based on what season they’re in.


College soccer training happens more frequently in the regular season.

In the fall, college soccer teams practice 3-4 times a week. During the regular season, teams generally play twice a week, most commonly on Wednesdays and Saturdays, which means they practice Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

College soccer teams almost always have off on Sundays, especially if they have a game on Saturday.

A team might not practice the day before a game if they have to travel overnight to an away match.


The NCAA places limitations on how often college soccer teams can practice in the spring.

In the spring, Division 1 and 2 college soccer teams are allowed to practice together for up to eight hours per week, with four of those being coach-supervised. Division 3 teams can practice together no more than four days per week in the spring, with 24 total training days to be used between February 1 and five weekdays before finals week.

Because there’s a limit on how often a coach can be around during spring training, they usually don’t attend weightlifting sessions and spend their allowed team time on the field during training.

Is college soccer a spring or fall sport?

Student-athletes train year-round with their team and individually. When is the college soccer season, spring or fall?

College soccer is a fall sport. The college soccer season starts in late August and ends with the NCAA championship in December. However, all fall sports teams are permitted to train together in spring. The NCAA allows college soccer teams to train together for a limited amount of time during the spring season.

The time a team can train together during the spring is based on the Division they’re in.

Division 1 and 2 teams are permitted the most training time, whereas Division 3 teams are allowed the least.

Furthermore, Division 1 and 2 teams can play multiple exhibition games during the spring, but Division 3 teams can only play one game no longer than 90 minutes.

I’m going to cover these college soccer spring season rules in greater detail in the following section.

NCAA college soccer spring season rules

Spring season is a time for university teams to train together during the off-season and practice for the upcoming fall. It often consists of a few different types of training, including weightlifting, conditioning, and regular soccer practices.

Spring season starts on February 1 for Division 3 institutions and February 15 for Division 1 and 2. For most college teams, the spring season consists of a few weekly training sessions and a handful of exhibition matches. Division 3 teams are allowed fewer training sessions and only one game during spring training.

All spring season training and matches must be finished no later than seven calendar days before the institution’s designated finals week.

Student-athletes and coaches cannot hold training sessions outside this designated timeframe.

Voluntary, student-athlete-run training sessions can occur at any point during the academic year as long as no coaches or staff members of any kind are present. These activities are not considered CARA or countable athletically related activities.

Related: What is CARA in College Athletics? Hourly Limitations & More

Teams in each Division function in the off-season (and regular season) in compliance with CARA–a set of rules defining what counts as a permitted training session of any kind and when it can occur.

Dive deeper into a full list of countable athletically related activities for college sports.

Spring season training rules for Division III

Spring season looks slightly different for Division 3 teams compared to Division 1 and 2 schools.

NCAA Division 3 soccer teams can start their spring season on February 1. Beginning in 2024, they are allowed 24 total training days. They cannot train more than four days a week. These training days generally include two separate training sessions. Division 3 teams are allowed one exhibition match or 90 minutes of competition time.

Division 1 and Division 2 soccer teams are allowed more training sessions than Division 3 teams. They’re also allowed to play more out-of-season exhibition games.

Spring season training rules for Division II

The spring season rules for Division 2 are not as strict as Division 3.

Division 2 teams are permitted eight hours of training time per week under the direction of a coach or staff member with a minimum requirement of two days off. Of these eight hours, no more than four can be allocated toward team or individual training conducted by a coach. Weight training and team practice can occur on the same day.

Division 2 soccer teams can start their spring season on February 15.

Spring season training rules for Division I

Division 1 out-of-season rules are the same as Division 2.

Division 1 soccer teams are allowed eight total hours of coach-supervised training per week starting February 15, with a minimum of two days off per week. Four of those eight hours can consist of team or individual soccer training. Like Division 2 and 3, weight training and soccer practice can be held on the same day.

Spring training must end at least seven days before finals week.

RuleDivision IDivision IIDivision III
Start dateFebruary 15February 15February 1
End dateSeven calendar days before finals weekSeven calendar days before finals weekFive weekdays before finals week
Total number of days allowed to trainUnlimited (minimum two days off per week)Unlimited (minimum two days off per week)24 days; no more than four training days per week
Hours per week (Coach-supervised soccer practice)Four hoursFour hoursUndefined
Total hours per weekEight hoursEight hoursUndefined
Number of allowed gamesFive gamesFive gamesOne game
General rules for the NCAA Division 1, 2, and 3 spring soccer season.

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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