There is a lot of recruitment through rec soccer by club coaches. The difference in what some soccer parents know or think is very wide! Depending on the city/state you live, depends on the program options. Some states you have a choice to choose a rec association or club, while other regions it’s a club takeover. Meaning the clubs have a rec and competitive option.
Most parents don’t know there are so many leagues
Most rec soccer parents with kids as old as 7 – 9 years old don’t know there are other leagues with a higher level of play.
The problem is that too many parents think clubs are the only way…
If 60-70% of the club kids would play rec instead the level would be better for both rec and club.
Instead both levels have been watered down.
Although, since there are so many club kids it makes for dozens of “club leagues”… So many that I stopped trying to keep track:)
Half of the club leagues are rec level, but the kids have a brand logo – making the kids and parents “feel” better.
The reason I give these percentages is because I ask my trainees questions on teammates commitment.
Plus when teams train with me it’s easy to see the numbers match up.
Many kids who play club soccer are wasting their parents money…
IF they don’t work a little on their own or want to get outside training to improve.
Players who don’t put in the extra work to improve, you should just play rec.
If kids are going to do all that traveling for practice, games and tournaments you should be practicing at home in addition to team practice.
The club commitment
Yes, you have some parents who know and decide not to do it because of the time & money commitment.
For me both of those are a key factor, but I think clubs are a waste for 90% of families…
There are those 10% of kids who are naturally dominant at age 6-8…
Rec can be “too easy” for them, so it makes sense to move up a level.
If my daughter was always wanting to practice on her own we would…
For now we are staying close to home and letting her try other sports.
There is definitely the knowing that she is falling behind kids who have private trainers or club coaching.
Some kids only love soccer and then you have others who like 3 or 4 sports… I just don’t think doing them all at once is good.
There needs to be a day or two of resting the legs.
Being a soccer teacher compared to coach
When you have coaches who have never played high level, or taken coaching courses it makes it hard to teach.
Although, there are some who do a fantastic job.
There are natural teachers who understand all the important elements it takes to run a good soccer practice.
I have seen rec coaches (dads) who are great soccer coaches because of their understanding of development…
Meaning they do drills that keep all the kids moving, teach what parts of the foot to use and they keep the session energized.
Mindset wise, the players have to learn to give their all.
“You don’t have to be the best, but you should try your best.”
Big advantage to players who practice at home on their own
2 ways for a coach to improve soccer practice
When you see a team practice with a long line of 6-12 players you know that it’s a bad practice plan.
It doesn’t mean the coach is bad, it just means they are not really good.
So try to find a coach or trainer who knows how to keep things moving with good drills and motivation.
Here’s a good dribbling drill for big or small groups.
- Instead of 1 or 2 long lines to start the drill, make 3 or 4 lines/stations. Start with a free kick or throw in and end up with give and go passing patterns to end on a shot on goal. This way you have starting a play, receiving the pass, another player having to receive and pass and then another who will end up dribbling, shooting or both. Now you don’t have long lines and instead of only improving on 1 thing, the players are improving on 4 different things that help them and the team improve quicker.
- Keep the players motivated and energized either by your energy or motivational teaching before, during or after practice.
Club soccer recruitment building youth academies
The crazy part is watching the club soccer recruitment from the rec soccer associations.
Rec soccer associations are usually pretty protective over the players not getting recruited to play club/travel/academy soccer.
Some players need to go academy, but there are others who need to stay rec.
Academy soccer is growing fast across America and is great for those who want more competitive soccer.
Therefore, what many club coaches are doing is coaching half club and half rec, to recruit players from rec.
Recruitment through rec soccer
It’s supposed to be a league for players who want to play soccer and have fun but not commit more than once a week practices.
What I have found is there are club coaches who put their ‘Academy Club’ team in the rec league…
This means that they have players who pay for extra training but then compete in the rec league.
These academy squads blow rec teams out, which gets other parents to sign up for their club/academy team.
Then there are other kids that get demoralized and stop playing soccer because it just wasn’t fun getting beat 12-0.
Keeping kids involved in soccer
To keep kids playing soccer we need to keep the desired level and commitment the same.
There is no reason to have kids who practice 2-3 times a week playing against kids who practice 1 time a week.
If kids, coaches and parents want to play more competitive soccer than do so.
Don’t sign up in the rec league just to get wins and recruit.
Wasting money playing academy soccer with bad coaches
So there are thousands of kids who play and thousands of coaches who coach soccer across America.
Over 80% of these coaches are not qualified or hold a license…
Even the ones who really like soccer and maybe played soccer in high school or college are not developing.
It takes experience and teaching for this to improve.
Not only do the coaches need coaching licenses to improve they also need to know how to perform the skills to teach them.
Some players are getting better coaches in rec soccer
A buddy I played college soccer with has a 7 year old son who is playing soccer.
His son could play ‘club/academy’ soccer but why would he?
My buddy played college soccer and he has a USSF ‘C’ license which is a really good coaching level.
So this friend coaches his sons rec team and is getting them trained and educated better than so many ‘academy’ teams that are paying big money for nothing but a recognized logo on their chest.
[Club vs recreation] Recruitment through rec soccer
There is a difference in the overall level, but it’s because in club there are a few dominant players who can take over a game by dribbling past 3 defenders and scoring.
When you watch a U10 club match of the top teams it’s really not pretty soccer.
No possession at all!
Very rarely will you see 3 or 4 passes in a row. Instead it’s get the ball and dribble.
If they do try to pass – it’s not accurate – resulting in turnovers.
All the players hustle and are above average in terms of athleticism… Although the fundamental skill is lacking.
In rec soccer it’s a big mix… 95% aren’t super dominant, but about 1/2 easily could play club.
Then you have 1/4 who just aren’t athletic or they don’t have the mindset to be a soccer player – yet anyway.
The key is proper training [can be done from home]
By age 9 continuing to play in the off-season [Summer & Winter] will really help.
Also during season having 2 practices per for 90 mins each per week is vital – compared to 1 practice for 60 mins.
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