Many factors go into selecting a soccer club. Whether you’re looking for a training environment for your child’s first soccer experience or evaluating soccer clubs that will prepare them for college and beyond, here are some criteria that will provide a solid foundation of soccer – and personal – development.
1. What are the club’s philosophy and values?
Do they prioritize winning, or are they focused on helping young players develop using an age-appropriate training curriculum?
Is the club inclusive of different ages, skills and abilities? Are players encouraged to take risks and supported when they make mistakes? Are new players welcomed into the program?
Are the club’s values consistent throughout the program? Do you recognize similar training styles, rules and expectations being demonstrated by the coaches? Do the players understand what’s expected?
Do the club’s values extend beyond soccer to foster personal growth and help players become better people?
Do the club’s philosophy and values align with those of your family?
2. How does the club approach player development?
Is the environment designed to help players improve or does the club prioritize winning games? When it comes to mastering the beautiful game, being consistently challenged to learn and grow will benefit your child far more than than the momentary thrill of beating an opponent.
Does the club have a development curriculum for each age group? Does the curriculum include exposure to different systems and positions that will allow players to develop broad knowledge of the game?
Does the curriculum teach intangibles like punctuality, teamwork, generosity and respect alongside technical mastery?
Does the club prepare its players for their transition to college? Does the club help players develop technical and tactical mastery as well as the ability to deal with the significant mental and emotional challenges they’ll face as college freshmen?
3. How qualified are the coaches?
How much experience do the club’s coaches have? Do they hold appropriate licenses for the age group/ level they’re coaching? Are the coaches trained in safety procedures such as CPR, injury and concussion prevention, and sexual harassment prevention? Does the club offer and/or require its coaches to participate in continuing education?
Are the coaches’ expectations and evaluation process for tryouts, practices, games and team placement transparent and consistent?
Do the coaches communicate in an appropriate and professional manner with parents and players? Do they make themselves available for meetings and to answer questions?
Are the club’s coaches in contact with players’ school and college coaches to coordinate their ongoing training and development?
Do the coaches understand what college coaches are looking for in recruits? Do they have solid working relationships with a number of college coaches in various conferences and can they convincingly advocate for your child?
4. What resources are available?
Does the club have sufficient resources to deliver a high-quality program?
Is the club’s equipment up-to-date and does it support the club’s development objectives?
Do players take part in supplementary activities such as speed/agility training, strength training, yoga, sports psychology and other important services?
Does the club provide assistance with college recruiting? What recruiting resources do players receive? What is the club’s track record of college placement?
Choosing a soccer club is a big decision that can greatly enhance your child’s love and mastery of the game – and help them grow into happy, successful people on and off the field. Taking the time to objectively evaluate the pros and cons of each club will allow you to choose an environment in which your child has the opportunity to flourish for years to come.
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Chris Bart-Williams is the founder and owner of CBW Soccer Elite. After an extensive career in the English Premier League, Chris now uses his vast soccer knowledge to assist families throughout the college recruiting process and prepare players for the mental and physical challenges of collegiate soccer. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.