By Terry Jacoby, FUEL Soccer Contributor
Understand the time commitment. Before parents sign up for club soccer, it’s important to understand the time commitment involved. “Not only for the player but for the whole family,” says Matt Anderson, who has three kids playing club soccer in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Even with just one child it’s a big time commitment. This isn’t rec soccer. There is a high commitment level and expectations are high at this level of soccer. Skipping practices and games is not acceptable because you are letting your teammates down who have made that commitment and expect the same from you.”
Find the right club. Do your homework and learn about the club before making that commitment. Picking the right club that best fits your level of interest and schedule is very important. Talk to the coach and even other parents to find out if it’s the club you want your son or daughter playing with. Also, be aware of the cost involved – playing club soccer is not a cheap endeavor.
Give the kids responsibility. Don’t let your kids off the hook when it comes to knowing their schedule. It is THEIR schedule after all. Playing club soccer requires plenty of organization and it’s a great learning experience for youngsters to get organized. Ask them what time their games are at and where so they help keep track of THEIR schedule.
Plan ahead. When parents fail to plan in advance and wait until the last minute, bad things can happen. “We had a parent who didn’t make a hotel reservation for the weekend of games and by the time they called all the hotels were booked up so the player didn’t come,” said Matt Anderson. And when that happens, the whole team suffers.
Leave yourself plenty of time for travel. Summer months throughout the country are filled with the dreaded “road construction ahead” signs and they can cause lengthy delays. Being late to a team meeting, practice or game while everyone else is on time sends the wrong message. There is a saying that if you are late then that means you feel your time is more valuable than others, which isn’t the case.
Use technology. Everyone has a smart phone these days and the calendar functions are a very helpful tool. You can even share your calendar with the family so everyone has an updated schedule of events. You can also set reminders just in case you forget. Smart phones also can be a time saver when having to try and find where you need to be – like a soccer field out of town.
Carpooling is a big time savior for many families with more than one child playing the great game of soccer. Finding a couple of families you know you can trust and share transportation duties is extremely helpful especially when it comes to practices.
Listen to your kids. Many young soccer players move to different clubs and are even recruited to play at a more advanced club. But your child should have the final say on which club he/she wants to play for. Playing a few seasons with one club and then leaving your friends and teammates behind to play for a different club isn’t always the best decision.