That’s a good question that every soccer family needs to give considerable thought to answering.
Club soccer is a significant financial and time commitment – they are not for everyone!
Like many good questions, the best answer is… well, it depends.
It depends on the player. It depends on the parents. It depends on the club. It depends on whether you believe club soccer, overall, is better for your child than town/rec soccer.
If you are looking to jump start your soccer skills and move ahead of other players you’ll want to get the best soccer training available.
The best way to make the right choice is to take these three components one by one. Each has its contribution to make, and understanding how they fit together can lead to a decision that benefits everyone.
The most important trait in a player moving from a town or rec kids soccer league to select soccer teams is passion. If your son or daughter has been identified as a local star player, that’s a great start. But talent will only get them so far.
If your child is bigger, stronger, and faster than the rest of the kids, be aware that this may not last.
Kids have a way of sprouting at different times in their young lives, so the town superstar might not continue to shine unless that talent is backed up by commitment and drive.
Do they look forward to practices as much (or almost as much) as games? Do they look for opportunities to play, practice touches, and juggle the ball in their spare time?
A player’s budding love of the game will grow with club soccer, as they grow in confidence and ability, and start to rack up club level accomplishments.
The level of parental commitment required is right up there with that of the kids. You’ll be driving to and from practice twice a week, and chances are it won’t be as close as what you’re used to.
Some folks drive more than an hour each way just to get to the practice field. In winter, it could be more, depending on the location of the club’s indoor facility.
Club soccer games will have you driving all over your state each weekend during season play, and many tournaments require out of state travel.
All that travel expense adds up quickly, and that’s on top of your select soccer team’s fees and dues, which will run anywhere from $500 to $3,000 a year.
Add in equipment and extras like team warm-ups and sports bags (trust me, they add up), and you’re looking at a lot of money.
Some clubs cost more than others. It depends on a lot of factors, like whether or not they own their own fields and indoor facilities, how much they pay to secure top coaches, and what kind of reputation they have for turning out successful players. Select soccer teams and clubs are businesses, and that’s how they’re run and make money.
On the other hand, in the right club, a player can really flourish. At the U14 level and below, great coaching can, and often does, turn good players into great ones. At the older levels, the challenge of tougher competition can draw out the best attributes in an already skilled soccer player.
On the flip side… there is a thought that belonging to a premier soccer club is not worth the money at all, especially at the lower or entry level.
Many soccer clubs, it is believed, focus on the elite or premier teams and pay little attention to all others in the club; players on the non-elite teams subsidize the premier teams; in many cases these players pay less.
The Bottom Line
There’s no doubt about it: club soccer can be very expensive, and whether or not to play at this level can be a tough decision for many families to make. [And the time commitment to the whole family should be weighed very heavily.]
The best way to ensure that you do get your money’s worth is to make certain the goals of your child, yourself, and the club you choose are all well-aligned.
You know going in that you’ll be making a significant financial investment in your child’s soccer playing career. Maintain realistic expectations regarding how significant it really is.
If your player is committed to their own development, if you support and foster this commitment, and if the club nurtures and leads your child into becoming the best soccer player, athlete, and person they can be, then yes, club soccer is worth the money.