Your young soccer player shows increased signs of interest in the game as she plays on a recreation or town team. You want to give her every opportunity to succeed and you start looking into club soccer teams. You may get confused and/or frustrated with all the different options since there are hundreds of club soccer teams in Massachusetts, with more formed all the time. Deciding which one to join can be quite a process to say the least.
Here are a few guidelines to help make it go a little more smoothly and make sure you get a result you and your player are happy with!
1. Narrow Down Your Options by Location
Decide how far you’re willing to travel to the standard twice (?) weekly practices. You’ll be traveling all over the state and beyond for games and tournaments; most tournaments are over holiday weekends!! Make sure practices are held somewhere close enough for you to get to each week.
It might be helpful to consider a league with other players from your town so you can share the driving. With so many club soccer teams in Massachusetts, chances are this will not limit your options too much.
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2. Verify the Club’s Mission Statement
I say verify here because all clubs will declare in their mission statement that they put player development ahead of winning games. But only the best youth soccer teams actually adhere to this philosophy.
Go to a game. Notice what’s being emphasized by the coach. How do they react when something goes right? Or when something goes wrong? If your child’s goal is to go as far as possible as a player, make sure the club shares that same goal for each of its players.
3. Check Out the Coach
At the club level, coaches are [mostly] paid professionals. They should have experience as players and/or coaches for college or professional level teams. They should have proper certification and participate in continuing education to hone their skills. But credentials aren’t all that matters. A successful coach needs to engage the players, bring out their best.
Sit in on a practice! Watch the interaction between the coach and the kids. Soccer teams need to be challenging as well as positive for the players to get all they can out of it. Does the coach have a style that would work well with your budding athlete? This can be as important as anything else to the development of your child as a player.
4. Check Out the Facilities
There are kids’ soccer teams of all sizes and at all levels of play. Club soccer teams tend to have more in the way of resources because they’re run as professional organizations. But even at the club level, you’ll find a wide range of resources and facilities.
Does the club have its own fields? If not, does it have a history of being able to secure fields to play on? Does it have a state-of-the-art indoor training facility complete with meeting and media rooms? Know what you’re looking for, and match it to what’s provided by the club.
5. Consider the Cost
Playing for a club soccer team can be expensive. Fees can run anywhere from $500 to $3,000 or more per year. Travel expenses can be significant when you consider you’ll have games all over the state as well as tournaments up and down the East Coast.
Try to choose a club that aligns best with both your child’s goals and your financial circumstances. Some clubs offer financial assistance. Check into that option if you need to. Don’t be afraid to ask as you never know. There are club soccer teams that will do whatever it takes to get a player if they want them badly enough.
As your child progresses through his or her young soccer career, you may find their goals and needs change. Your criteria for club soccer teams that meet their needs may need to be adjusted.
At that point, factors like exposure to college recruiters may come into play. Focus on these guidelines and you’ll ensure that you end up playing with one of the best youth soccer teams matched to the needs of your child.