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Three most important things when choosing club and team

In the past month, we’ve seen a surge in emails and calls from soccer parents, all sharing similar concerns about their child’s situation and seeking advice on next steps. While each situation had its nuances, the level of information parents had about future possibilities was generally limited beyond the club name and team level. Our key advice to all dissatisfied parents exploring new options: thorough research is essential.

The paramount factor to consider when seeking a new team is…

Your child’s coach should be the top priority. Even in the most competitive environments, without a coach who challenges and nurtures growth, development may stagnate. Optimal training and player advancement hinge on effective coaching. Hence, when selecting a club, focus primarily on the individual who will directly mentor your child.


As a parent, how can I understand whether a coach is good or not?

Unless the coach is new to the area, the most reliable method is to attend one of the team’s training sessions. While watching a game can provide some insight, it’s often misleading as the outcome may be influenced by the quality of players rather than coaching prowess. Therefore, observing training sessions allows you to gauge the coach’s style and how players respond. Ideally, inquire if your child can participate in a training session or two with the team to get a firsthand experience, although this may not always be feasible. If you’re unfamiliar with soccer, seeking assistance from someone knowledgeable is the best approach, or alternatively, asking your child for their perspective on the training can provide valuable insights.

The second crucial factor to consider is the level of teammates.

Your child will spend considerable time on the field alongside his/her teammates. If teammates aren’t of sufficient quality, your child won’t face the necessary level of challenge during training (please try to be fair and objective in this assessment). Conversely, if they’re too skilled, your child may struggle to find success and their confidence could suffer. Therefore, the quality of teammates is vital for optimal development. Sometimes, particularly at a young age, your child should play on a team that’s not at the top level. This way, they’ll receive ample playing time in their preferred position and feel more comfortable in their environment.

The third factor to consider is the level of competition.

Testing abilities against opponents at an appropriate level is crucial for development, as it exposes players to high pressure and ensures minor mistakes aren’t overlooked. This intense environment fosters maximum growth. Ideally, the win rate should hover around 75%, with victories and losses being closely contested. However, it’s essential to note that this is just the third factor. While players typically engage in one game per week, they spend significantly more time training together, which is equally important, if not more so.

Concluding remarks

When deciding on a future club or team for your child, prioritize these three key factors: the quality of the coach, the level of teammates, and the level of competition. Unless your child is between 16-19 years old, avoid fixating on potential gold medals, future advancement, or exposure to college coaches. These considerations should take a back seat to player development, which is crucial for future opportunities. Remember, focusing on development today is essential, as it lays the foundation for future possibilities on the field.

Join the Conversation!

This blog series is meant to be interactive. We invite you to express your opinions, ask questions, and help us create a lively place for community discussion on soccer training. Please remember, there is no single right way to coach—each method has its advantages depending on the coach’s vision and effectiveness in communication.

We look forward to your participation and to cultivating a rich dialogue about soccer training philosophy. Stay tuned for more insightful discussions on our Blog!


  • Steve

    What are your thoughts on many clubs having 20-25 kids on each team (often MLS and ECNL) and forcing kids to fight it out to make the 18 person weekend roster. What is the appropriate level of playing time in games to develop? I believe it should be 70-80%.

    • admin

      Steve, I believe it’s detrimental to have more than 18 players on the roster until U18/19, as at that point, it shifts from development to performance focus. This isn’t just a concern in the USA; even top academies in Europe face similar challenges with large rosters. While there are benefits to having, say, 22 players available for training, such as being able to run activities involving two full teams, young players should prioritize playing time to foster development.

      In terms of playing time, aiming for 70-80% is ideal. However, if a player finds themselves playing only 30% of the time and starting as a substitute, it can serve as motivation to work harder and compete for a starting position. This not only enhances the level of competition within the team but also elevates the overall quality of training. So, while it’s great for a player to receive 70-80% playing time, if they don’t, it should be viewed as an opportunity to put in extra effort and earn more minutes, rather than a reason to switch teams.

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