What age is too young to play Competitive Soccer?
For youth soccer players in Southern California, there are several different types of soccer teams. Most kids start off by playing AYSO recreational soccer at about age 5 years old. For the soccer players that are advanced, they are picked to play on the AYSO All-Star team and maybe even a chance to try-out for AYSO Extra team (a club-like team for competitive soccer players that don’t want to play at the club level.) Then there are the club teams: the highest competitive level of soccer for youth soccer players. Club teams come with try-outs, paid coaches, more advanced practices and games, and a mentality focused around being the best soccer team and winning.
Playing club soccer can be very expensive: from paying for the coaches, traveling to all the games, and playing in tournaments (sometimes across the whole nation.) Since club soccer comes with a large financial and personal commitment, most youth soccer players can only afford to play soccer. The club soccer player is most likely placing all their eggs in one basket to play soccer at the highest level.
So is there an age that is appropriate for youth soccer players to commit to competitive club soccer? The answer is: it depends on each youth soccer player’s needs. If playing competitive soccer is a question, then try-outs for a club team are a great non-committal, low cost opportunity for every soccer player to see if they are ready for the next level of soccer. After the try-outs, each soccer player and their parents should assess the try-out: did their child fit in, how did the coach approach the kids, what are the expectations of the club team, and what is the child’s goal moving forward. If the athlete is picked for the team and it seems to be a right fit, then it doesn’t matter the age of the youth soccer player. At the end of each club year, parents should discuss the same questions above with their child and decide if competitive club soccer is still the correct decision for their child.
Discussing the team, the coach, and the level of soccer is a very important discussion to have with youth soccer players. It allows them to state their frustrations and happiness with their current state of play and can help parents identify if their child is feeling the effects of burn out. With all aspects of life, burn out can happen and it doesn’t always mean quitting will help to solve it. Sometimes the athlete needs extra training outside of the team. The age is not the most important factor for playing club soccer, the emphasis should be on: What is the goal for my child moving forward in soccer?
-Have questions about your child trying out for club soccer, email Coach Brittany Gonzales