This week’s question revolves around leagues which allow players to play on a travel team and a recreational team during the same season. Our league allows it and so far it’s been a good experience for the kids. They get to do this whole new ‘travel’ thing when they hit U10, but can also still play with many of the kids they’ve known since U5 swarm ball. They obviously get more ball touches and they definitely serve as role models for the other kids. As they get older, however, the level of play in Rec levels off so you find the majority of multi-rostering in the younger ages around U10 and U12.
Now for some parents and players, dual rostering can be an overload and obviously each family has to decide if dual rostering is workable. Many state associations place limits on dual rostering to avoid this. In North Carolina, players can play for two teams, but they cannot play for both teams on the same day. However, if it IS workable, should travel players still play Rec?
It’s a hard question to answer once you frame the question in terms of the things players learn and bad habits.
Playing rec ball as a travel player can lead to bad habits being reinforced. You go from being one of many good players on a team to being the only one or one of two or three good players. Now this is where coaching comes in. A good rec coach will work to ensure their travel kids don’t play superstar and instead utilize them in positions that benefit both them and the team. A common practice is to have them play defense or midfield to help ‘control’ the match while feeding up to the learning forwards. Sure, once in a while they’ll see a lane and go for it, but for the most part, you ensure they are part of the team.
The problem is, not all rec coaches will do this and some will abuse their dual rostered players using them just to rack up goals. If you let them play superstar, they learn bad habits (not passing) and the rest of the team just watches. Fortunately in our league we’ve seen coaches properly develop their travel AND reec kids instead of leveraging the travel kids for goals. But it still can be a problem.
So the Question of the Week is:
Should Travel Players Be Allowed To Play On Rec Teams?
I’m curious to hear from parents and coaches who have had dual rostered players and how it went. I have two this season and have found it a challenge to coach, but overall I think it’s a benefit to both the team and the dual rostered players. They really enjoy playing with their old teammates and helping teach them some new things. My son plays on two teams and the thing he really enjoys is the opportunity to play in positions he might not play on his travel team like rear defense or keeper. I move him around just like any of my other kids so everyone gets experience at all positions.
Have you coached travel kids in Rec? What have you encountered? As a parent of a dual rostered player – was it worth it? Is it more common to see rec coaches who take advantage of the travel kids to their detriment or do they integrate them and strengthen the team while ensuring EVERYone continues to improve?