Choosing the Right Club

Make sure your club is a good fit for you and your player.

“The four laws of learning are explanation, demonstration, imitation and repetition. The goal is to create a correct habit that can be produced instinctively under great pressure. To make sure this goal was achieved, I created eight laws of learning – namely explanation, demonstration, imitation, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition and repetition.” John Wooden

How to Choose the Right Club

It’s often difficult to differentiate one club from another, especially when external sources are providing extremely biased information. Namely, a club director or coach who is effectively recruiting your child, a family friend that may be trying to convince you to join their team, or another soccer parent that may be misinformed about how it all works.

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 experience with the club.

What is the Culture?

Teammates

Your child will be spending 5+ hours per week with the other players on the team. You’ll want to assess…Is the group a collection of kids that could become best friends? Are they positive influences that will build your child’s confidence? Is it a diverse group of unique personalities and perspectives?

Families

You want to be sure you are joining a group of families that have comparable expectations. The say it takes a village to raise a child, so be sure you choose your village wisely.

Who will be the coach of my child’s team?

Ask specifically to talk to the coach; some clubs put the most personable coaches “out there” to be the face of the club but they may not be the coach of your child.  Seek out a coach that takes pride in the off-the-field successes of their players as they develop as a soccer player.

Find a coach who can do more than teach players how to win and lose (gracefully), working through differences with teammates, fostering collaboration and creative thinking, responding to adversity, and seeking success through hard work.

Ideally you want a coach who has mastered the most basic fundamentals as well as individual and team concepts. This will ensure that your child “hears” the right things, and “see’s” the right mechanics things through demonstration.

How is the training program set up?

Is the structure for younger players different than the experienced players? It should be. Do they promote tons of touches on the ball every practice session? Is there sufficient playing time in small sided games and scrimmages? How many training sessions per week are there per age level? Beginning level teams usually start out with two per week, with sessions increasing with the higher skill levels.

Can my player be “cut” from the soccer club?

Most clubs have a rule of keeping kids on the club once they have been accepted. For the better more expansive clubs there are multiple teams at each level. What happens when the rosters increase? What happens if many new players tryout next season? What happens if my child starts to excel or falls behind the other players on the team?

How many tournaments do we play?

Tournament are the best way to get experience playing club soccer, the better and more diverse talent the club plays the better your child will become. Know upfront the expectations, where the tournaments are held, are they mandatory, are they included in soccer dues?

Does the club offer winter and off-season training programs?

The winter and summer months, or ‘off-season’, are the most important months for any young soccer player. It is where they can really focus on individual technique and ball-work. It is common knowledge throughout the US Coaching profession that US soccer players need to become better technically, from the US Men’s National team all the way through to youth soccer.

Any club worth choosing will want families to make the most informed decision possible. So think through a club’s guiding principles, the coaches’ philosophy, and the overall mission and vision before making your choice.