Whether you are starting your kids in soccer for the first time, or have just moved to a new area, choosing the right soccer club for your kids is important. All coaches are not the same, and all programs are not run the same. It pays to ask some questions before you decide.
- Parks and Recreation Department. Your local parks and recreation department is a good place to start when looking for information on who to contact regarding soccer programs for kids. They may also give you some tips about the differences between the different clubs available.
- Soccer Parents. The best source for finding the best group for your kids to be a part of can be other soccer parents. They have already had experience and have spent time around several different soccer teams during the previous years. A veteran soccer parent would generally have plenty of advice on the subject.
- Coaching ratio. Ask about the ratio of kids to coaches when checking out soccer clubs. Eight to ten kids per coach would be ideal. You definitely wouldn’t want it to be higher than 14 kids per coach.
- Experienced coaches. How long have the coaches been coaching kid’s soccer, and what are their credentials? The coach is the key to whole program. A new, inexperienced coach could mean a year of chaos for your kids.
- Attend the practices. If you really want to know whether you’ve made the right choice in a soccer club for your kids, you need to attend the practices. That is where you will see the coach and the kids in action. You’ll see how they are being taught and how the players are being treated. You won’t be dependent on your kids to relay accurate information.
- Lesson plans. Ask about how the training program for kids and assistant coaches is set up. Is the structure for younger kids different than those who are more experienced? It should be. Is there a plan in place for training the assistant coaches, or are they expected to pick it up on their own?
- Widen your search. If you aren’t satisfied with what you are finding in your area, take a look at the soccer programs in neighboring towns. It may be worth a little extra drive time to get your kids enrolled in a better program.
- Soccer kids. Check with the kids who have been in the program in previous years. Did they enjoy it? What do they have to say about the coach?
- Soccer league. Check on the web to see if there is a youth soccer league in your area. Find out if they are affiliated with the US Youth Soccer National League. Do some research on the benefits provided by being part of an official league.
- Weekly sessions. Ask about how many weekly sessions there are for the different levels. Introductory clubs should be only once or twice a week, while those practice sessions should increase with the higher skill levels.
Your child’s experience with soccer can be positive or negative. Choosing the right club can make a big difference on which experience they have.