Thinking about joining a soccer club?
The sky is the limit as there’s a soccer club for every player!
First-and-foremost you need to keep in mind that soccer clubs for kids are a business… nothing wrong with that; we sometimes forget this as we get enamored with a coach or club that loves our star soccer player; many times we put on our blinders and forget that the clubs exist to make money and add to their rosters.
You have to look beyond what they are telling you as they try to get you to join the club and ask specific questions until you get the answers you’re looking for.
Don’t decide on a club until you are happy with the answers and, by all means, ask as many people as you can find about their experiences with the club.
Will you be the coach of my daughter’s team?
You’d be surprised to learn that the coach you’re speaking with may not actually be the coach of your kid – ask specifically if that person will be his/her coach; some clubs put the most personable coaches “out there” to be the face of the club but they are not coaches. Do not judge the book by its cover!
How many players will there be on the team?
Great question to ask of a club soccer organization. If it’s 8 v 8 how many substitute layers will there typically be? Is there equal playing time for all kids on the team or will you pull the weaker kids towards the end of the game if you’re losing?
What is the coaching philosophy of the club / team? Is there any written material that states the club’s philosophy or coaching style? Is it all about winning or are you developing my child as they mature and getting them ready each year to advance? Listen, no really listen, to that they tell you as you don’t want a mentality of burning kids out just to win and all along they never really learn the game and never advance.
Spend time with the parents. Find out how often, if at all, the teams turns over. Is the coach a recruiter or a developer?
What position(s) do you see my son playing? Check out the reaction on their face when you ask this question; look for an immediate answer such as “yeah, we saw Becky in the net and we think she would make a great goalie for our team”. If they have just one position in mind for your daughter then run for the hills; you want your kid well-rounded, especially when they are young and getting to know the game.
Will the club be moving players between teams? Be on the lookout for soccer clubs that have a couple of bad apples on the team and, half way through the season, start sending kids down to the next team and then bring on others from other teams.
Ask ahead of time if they move kids around; sometimes this is unavoidable but many times soccer clubs make this a way they operate; look for a club that makes these decisions at the very beginning as they’re putting the teams together.
Can my son be “cut” from the soccer club? Most clubs have a rule of keeping kids on the club once they’ve been accepted. For the better, and more expansive soccer clubs, there are teams for just about every level of player – but don’t take a chance and ask this question upfront.
Tell me about the tournaments that are upcoming and the competition you expect. Tournaments are the best way to get experience playing on a club soccer team as your club plays other clubs either locally or hundreds of miles away; sounds intimidating but the better and more diverse talent the club plays they better it will make your child.
Know upfront what the expectations are, where the tournaments are held, are they mandatory, are the fees included in the soccer dues, etc. The more informed you are before you join a club the fewer surprises there will be later on.
Other questions include: tell me about the winter training program, how many were on the team last year, is this a rebuilding year, who is the team manager and how long has he been helping out, etc. How about youth soccer camps and clinics to help develop?
Sorry, here’s another one and a biggie; go visit some games of prospective clubs and see for yourself.
Is the coach screaming at the kids? Is he coaching them or telling them every single thing to do on the field? What about the soccer parents… do they look like someone you want to spend every weekend with?
Start creating your checklist and compare notes with others; take your time researching the clubs and approach it methodically and you’ll soon be a soccer parent on a great soccer club.