How to Choose the Right Soccer Club for Your Child

As soccer mom extraordinaire, you outfit your little ones shin guards and soccer cleats, toss a couple of soccer balls in the back of the minivan and go to recreation soccer practices and games. Lo and behold, your little one's showing some skill. You're now participating in the competitive town league and perhaps the advanced regional programs... your little soccer player's kicking some butt. Time to bump it one more soccer. But before diving in and forking over hundreds of dollars, consider the following items to be sure club soccer, and the club if you decide go this route, is right for you.

1. Commitment: 

If your little soccer player gets an invite to a friends house during practice time, will they attend practice? If the answer is no, or if it's yes, but only if you drag them kicking and screaming, stick with town and recreation soccer.

2. Distance: 

Get that minivan warmed up and ...unless the designated practice field is in your town, the drive to practice is probably longer - and some of the games are much further away. For me the longest trek to a club game was ~ 2 hours (the longest for a town team was 40 min - but only because I got lost).

3. Coaching philosophy: 

Although all clubs (at least in theory) are competitive, some stress development and others stress winning. Neither is wrong, but your expectations should align to their goals. Talk to the Club director; ask how this club differs from the others you're considering.

4. Skill level potential team mates: 

If your soccer player's the best on the team, they won't develop as much as they would if they were playing with more skilled players - and after all, that is what you're paying for. If they are the worst on the team, they may feel overwhelmed and get discouraged. You can get a good feel for the skills of the team at try-outs or by attending any summer or preseason clinics given by the club.

5. Contract commitment: 

Do you have to lock in for the entire year - or is the club willing to work with you if there are problems after the first season. From the club's point of view you can understand that they need to hire coaches and get fields for the year. But from your point of view, is it reasonable to lock young kids in for that length of time? (Let's face it, they (kids in general) have the attention span of a gnat) And what if you feel the club is not living up to your expectations? Be sure you feel you can talk with he head coach so they are aware of your concerns and can work with you.

6. Cost: 

I listed this item last because if the commitment and skill are there, you're happy with coaching, and you're comfortable working with the club, there are ways to decrease the total cost. For instance if you manage the team or help the club out, you usually receive some type of discount. There's fundraising. Or you can always go to the club director and plead your case for a scholarship. But anyway you work it, it's a significant factor.

As a soccer mom, you want your little soccer player to go as far as they want to go. If your soccer player's committed and you've gone through the items in the above list, a soccer club is worth the time, money, and gas you spend on it.

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