Pros and Cons of Travel Youth Soccer

There is an interesting thread going on over at Talk On The Pitch about the pros and cons of travel soccer for U10 age players. I see a number of search referrals for ‘Pros and Cons of Travel Soccer‘ both here and at TOTP. Even locally I know a number of long time Rec parents who have kids who have played since they were U4 or U5 are unsure what travel soccer is all about. So it would be interesting to hear from some of you who have kids in travel soccer what some of the less obvious pros and cons are, either for younger players (ie U10), or overall.

So share some of your thoughts on travel soccer, be it ‘entry level’ like our regional Challenge program, state-wide (Select), or regional (Premiere). I’ll put some of the best ones together in a future post and maybe we can help parents unfamiliar with travel soccer with what to expect if their child makes a team.

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  1. Years ago for a player to be on a travel soccer team you had to be the best of the best. Now it seems that youth soccer clubs will have 3-4 travel teams in one age group just to generate revenue $$.

    If you do decide to send your child to a soccer travel team, ask yourself the following:

    1. Is your child ready to make the commitment to attend 2-3 day practice sessions @ 1.5 hours each, rain or shine, all year round and play regular season and tournament games and at times travel long distances to a game?
    Some players DO NOT enjoy tournament games because they play
    2 full games in one day! It is tiring for some players, even the best youth players go through this. Playing 2 games in one day is not for everyone. Do you see a professional team play 2 full games in one day? I don’t think so, and yet we encourage our children to play 2 games! Players who are tired will make mistakes and possibly get injured.

    2. Is your child willing to sacrifice and drop activities such as Girl Scouts, attend birthday parties on weekdays and/or weekends, family outings, bible studies for children (Sundays or weekdays) etc. For example, my wife planned for my daughter a camping trip with the Girl Scouts (Saturday & Sunday) before the season began. One of her regular season Saturday games was cancelled due to rain and was scheduled during that camping weekend. My daughter had a dilemma, she had a Saturday and Sunday game. She decided to play the Sunday game. I could not convince her play both games that weekend. Why?, because she wanted to spend time with her friends camping. It meant a lot to my daughter.

    3. As a parent, have you done your homework to determine if your coach is a good teacher who stresses the fundamentals? Look at the WIN/LOSE record of the coach. Some travel coaches only care about winning at all costs. Beware of coaches who try to charm you as a parent about how good your daughter is to try to recruit your child into the club team. Remember some coaches have no loyalty to you or your child. One year your daughter is the greatest thing since Mia Hamm. But the next season, your daughter may be dropped from the A-team to the B-team because the coach recruited a better player. Just because a coach has played professional soccer doesn’t mean that they are a great coach. Ask the opinion of parents and players and evaluate other coaches from nearby clubs during their practice sessions. Look out for coaches that coach several teams! Are they looking in the best interest of your child and team? You know the coach has their hands full when they cannot attend a game or pre game warm up due to a schedule conflict. If you are paying for a coach to teach your child/team, that coach should be teaching your child and team only during that allocated training period! Not teaching several teams at one practice session. I find it hard to believe that a coach can teach two or three teams at one practice session! Some players are not receiving the individualized attention that is needed to correct or teach technique.

    4. Is your daughter requesting this change from house to travel? Or is the parent being caught up the “Frenzy” that you may be missing out on something since the other parents are sending their daughters to Travel?

    Remember teaching sports to children is all about the fundamentals and it should be fun and challenging at the same time. When practice becomes boring the coach is not doing their job. At a certain age for the youth player, a light turns “On” and you will notice that when the child starts focusing on becoming a better player without you as a parent having to tell them what they should do. Think of each child like a young green plant, each plant flowers at their own pace. Let them grow at their own pace, don’t need to rush the process of learning. A child should enjoy their youth, otherwise they will burn out.

    Coach