How to Know What Division Level is Right for You

Choosing a school is one of the most impactful decions a person will make in a lifetime. It is helpful to understand the ramifications of your choice. Forming a clear, informed, plan is the key to reaching your goals and ultimate happiness. Let's first understand what makes a school DI versus DIII.

There are a variety of factors that place a school in the category of DI or DIII. We will discuss the primary factors. A DI school is larger and has a documented volume of attendence at games. Additionally, there are requirements for the number of teams and team gender. With this DI designation comes several rules that are designed to protect the athlete from exploitation - for example - recruiting guidelines.

A school in the DIII category has not certified a crowd size or student body size. These schools have implied a commitment to academics first, sometimes at the expense of ultimate team success. NCAA recruiting rules are less stringent, however, no athletic scholarships are allowed. Any financial assistance a player gets can not be related to their athletics. DIII schools also advertise that the entire college experience is important. Athletics is no more important than academics or social experiences.

On the surface, this may tell you nothing about which division level is right for you. So let's go a little deeper into the unwritten factors.

Factor 1:
A DI player (and family) has to place a players athletic career above all else. It takes an enormous amount of commitment to develop into an elite player and then even more of a commitment to market yourself. This often involves a lot of time and money. To decide how this factor fits with you, and your image of you, ask yourself a few questions. Am I willing to miss my prom to get a DI commitment? Am I willing to miss family vacations to do a college visit? Am I willing to miss a travel abroad experience one in college? These are a sample of decisions that may or may not occur. Lacrosse is your whole life for the DI player. If you like this idea, DI might be right for you

Factor 2:
To play at the DI level a player must have a broad set of skills with few or no holes in their skillset. DI players spend thousands of hours learning the skills that coaches have deamed important for a player to possess. When the time comes to utilize that skill, it must be there and easily executed.

For the DIII player, there may be skill gaps. However these players can often execute the skills and talents that they do have as effectively as DI players.

Factor 3:
All coaches charish the good athlete. By athleticism I mean speed, quickness, strength, and/or power. This is a critical factor in getting recruited at any level. The game of women's lacrosse has become loaded with extremely athletic players over the past 10 years. While you may find some players with limited athletic abilities at the DI level, it is unlikely that you will be recruited unless you have some outside influencer (like a club, coach, or parent) getting you noticed. There are some well-respected, well-known, clubs that are perfect for that situation.

For those less athletically endowed, focus your energies on something you can improve. If you want to play at the college level and you have limited athleticism, the best remedy is to develop exceptional skills and knowledge of the game. Skill is still an equalizer that can keep doors open and help you reach that goal.

It is important to remember that playing at the college level as an achievement that you should be proud of, whatever the division level. There is usually a school that matches your abilities and priorities perfectly. Do not be influenced by what your friends or teammates have decided is right for them. This is an important decision that will impact your life in ways we cannot understand or predict.

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