Where is your value in the outcome? This might sound corny but having fun should be the first thing you consider, especially for youth soccer. I ended up playing pro soccer, but all my youth training wasn’t great. You can’t expect to have a good coach or teammates every year. To know which soccer team is best for you, means knowing your desires. Some people want a nice coach, while others don’t care about that and instead want a technical developer or a coach with connections to the higher levels. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
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Looking for good youth soccer coaches
Again this mostly depends on what you want out of soccer. If you only want to enjoy playing soccer and have no interest to play high school or college then get a coach and team that make it fun.
For players who want to play high school or college you need to get a team that challenges you. A coach who is teaching everything from technique to character.
Younger ages the two most important things are does the coach make it fun and are the players learning the right skills.
Older players [teenagers] need to understand that you might get a coach who is not encouraging, but that is all about discipline and hard work.
A term that has become a catch phrase is the word ‘skills’.
There is a difference between proper technique and skills.
- Skills done the way most coaches and trainers instruct are defined as dribbling around cones or performing moves, etc.
- Proper Technique is training done the right way, like how to receive the ball and pass clean.
Then there’s learning [form] mechanics… Teaching what exact part of the foot to use and how to best position your body to control the ball. In this, explaining how it helps, so the players know why we do it.
Top 3 most important things to know
1) Having fun – most of the time… Not every day will be fun, that’s normal. The team environment should mostly be healthy from the coach to teammates.
2) Playing time needs to be more than 5 mins per half. Of course, there can be a season or 2 where this happens. Try to play for teams who will play you half the game at least.
3) Teaching of good character to build healthy habits. This gives players the ability to take discipline and grow in maturity.
Keep up with your skills on your own
Club coaches don’t have the time to teach all the technical and form you need.
It’s your responsibility to practice outside of team training – if you want to reach your full potential.
Soccer is a team sport, but your training shouldn’t always be.
The best way to improve is on your own, doing the right things. 10 minutes a day will take your game to a whole new level!
“I trained 3-4 hours a week at Ajax when I was little, but I played 3-4 hours everyday on the streets. So where do you think I learned football” – Johan Cruyff
The perfect soccer team situation for you
The perfect situation is when you get on a team with a coach and other parents who are all on the same page. Now this could really go many ways… Everyone is different so we need to go over options.
A) Desire for the highest level of competition – (Players goal is to make high school varsity or college) The key is for parents to teach these kids the importance of wanting to always get better. Because many of them get big heads and think they are so good and that there is no need to keep improving. These are the players who turn 15 years old and realize they might not make the HS varsity team because other players kept improving.
B) Desire to compete; not worried if top tier – (Players goals usually vary where some want college and some don’t even think about it) Many of these players end up playing High School Varsity and College because all the kids will hit different growth spurts and some of the top players will not continue with soccer during the HS/College years.
C) Laid back rec / YMCA – (Players goal is to have fun and play on a soccer team, but no strong desire to play competitive) Some of these parents don’t know that there are so many higher level leagues to choose from. Some of the bigger clubs have teams in 6 different leagues/levels. You for sure don’t want to wait past 10 years old to start wanting to get serious with competitive soccer because it’s going to be hard to catch up to the kids who have been playing 2-3 times a week since they were 7 years old.
If you chose A or B then you want to hope and pray that you get on a few teams that have good chemistry.
Especially a team that is age 8-9 because this is the age that if they do lots of skills training for 2 years they will be technically prepared to play select soccer good select soccer.
During these times when the kids are 8-10 years old you have to understand that you might lose games from trying to play soccer the right way.
Research different soccer clubs
Research as many teams & leagues as you can and just know that this is a process but you will get through it just fine. 🙂
Tryout times are busy, stressful for many, but it’s part of the process.
For ages 7–12 you want to try and stay close to home meaning within 20 min drive – if possible.
Many of you live near big cities and have to travel more than 1 hour for practice. Save these travel times for when you have to.
Ages 13+ there is more desire to get a good coach, so sometimes the competition is harder to get the coaching style you want.
Another chapter in your soccer world
The good news is you can always change teams the next season, which about 40% of club players do every season.
During the hard seasons whether it be a coach you don’t like, teammates, no play time you want to teach your kids/players life lessons during these times.
In your soccer career you will most likely have to play for a coach or team you don’t like.
Learn from it and enjoy the good coaches and teams you are on.
Which soccer team is best for you – recap
It all depends on what you are looking for in soccer and what your end goals are.
If you are just wanting to play for fun or if you are wanting to play college soccer one day.
Both paths are not easy…
You have to find not only the coach you like, but the right coach in the right league. It takes time so be patient and know that the older you get the harder it is.
When you are younger, like ages 7–12 and there are many options.
Ages 13+ is when there are only so many high level or lower level teams at this point.
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