To travel or not to travel? So many questions about travel soccer teams aren't you glad you found this page? Every kid is dying to make the travel team at their club but when parents hear travel club all they see is the same team as before just a lot more expensive. While this is a fair question we need to break down what travel soccer teams actually means versus other levels at the club soccer level. To make it simple a travel team is basically a team that is at the competitive level versus the recreational level.
So the question you really need to ask yourself is, do you think your kid has the chance to use soccer as a platform to play at the professional level or possibly get a scholarship to a University? Or is this more of a fun thing that they like to do on the side combined with all the other things they have going on in their lives. To help figure that part out the best way to know for sure is to ask them and see how they feel about it and what they really want to do.
If you're struggling to make the choice then you can find all the advantages, disadvantages and comparisons between the competitive level (travel soccer teams fit in this category) and the recreational level. Oh by the way, I hope you have some cash to burn because the travel teams cost a pretty penny more than the recreational level.
1. Get To Play More and Better Competition - Travel soccer teams have more games throughout the their season including weekend tournaments that may take some travelling to get to. Not only are there more games but there are also more quality higher level games as you play the best teams from a greater region of the country instead of just the ones in your local area. With this comes higher quality players, coaches and teams that you get to test your skills against each and every week.
2. More Exposure - If your kid is looking to get scouted by University coaches, professional coaches or higher club teams their age than being part of travel soccer teams is a must. This level will help you gain more exposure as this is exactly the type of teams coaches recruit from and of course the better the team does the more attention they will start to attract. You want to give your kid the best chance to use their game to get a scholarship or play pro so a travel team is something they need to be a part of right away.
3. Competing At A Higher Level - We all want to play at the highest level to see how your kids compare against the best of the best. Travel teams provide the opportunity to play against the best players and teams from your region (and other regions) to see how well you compare. Not only is this a great measuring stick it will also raise the level of your game knowing what is waiting for you every weekend from an opposition stand point.
4. More Training and Commitment - If you'er looking to get your kid more training more often than you will definitely get it with a travel team. Travel teams give you training about 3 to 5 times a week with a game on the weekends so the level of commitment and development is significantly increased.
5. High Level Coaching - As you can imagine just like the players are a higher level with travel teams so are the coaches. Part of the increased cost is paying for higher level coaches to train and develop your son or daughter. These coaches will give you a higher level of knowledge, development and attention to develop your kid at a higher rate than playing at the recreational level.
If you want to learn more about travel soccer teams and their connection to the MLS feel free to read more about it here, US and MLS Soccer Travel Teams.
1. Costs More - Travel teams as expected are going to cost you more than playing at a lower level. Some travel teams can cost up to $3000 a year to train, travel and play all year round. I know it sounds like a lot (and it is) but this is the going rate these days for a team with top coaches, training at top facilities and getting the exposure to the next level. Some travel teams can cost in the $1000 range but expect to pay a significant premium if you're looking to play at the next level.
2. Playing Time Isn't Guaranteed - Welcome to the world of competitive sports. When you join travel soccer teams it isn't holding hands everyone gets to play even minutes time. You have to earn your spot on the team and the amount of time you play as winning becomes and important factor at this next stage of competition. You may play every minute, you may play some or you may not play at all in certain games and you need to know that that is what you signed up for.
3. More Time and Commitment Needed - I hope you like soccer 24/7 because that's what you're getting when you commit to playing on travel soccer teams. Less weekends at the cottage and more weekends on the pitch, along with more training, more travelling and higher demands from your coaches to train on your own as well. If playing at the next level is something you want to do then learning the meaning of sacrifice at a young age is something you will get from these travel teams.
4. More Pressure To Perform - Now that there are standings, winners, losers, trophies and scholarships on the line the pressure that kids take with them on the field grows every year. It's no longer okay to play a C+ game, you need to bring your best game every time you play if you want to win and achieve things you and your team have set out to achieve. Not everyone loves to play the game when the stakes start to rise, hopefully it's something they can learn to deal with and adapt to.
5. Kids Can Fall Out Of Love With The Game - It's only normal as the older your kids get and the less they may play that your kid could start to resent the game and stop playing. Not everyone on the team can play the exact minutes and role they want so as competition gets more fierce it's only normal that some players will stop loving the game like they once did. Hopefully those that no longer wish to play at the highest levels can find love for the game at a lower level and keep playing.
1. Everyone gets to play equal minutes
2. Fun, stress free environment where the result doesn't matter
3. Enough time to yourself to do other things like go to the cottage, hang out with friends and travel with the family
4. Not as expensive, you can save some money here
5. High emphasis on social interaction, coaches are volunteering their time
1. Playing time is not guaranteed, you have to fight every work to earn playing time
2. Winning matters and although fun the level of competitiveness is high
3. Training 4-5 times a week plus travelling to tournaments on weekends, not much time to do other extracurricular activities
4. Can be expensive at times, significant difference in price versus recreational
5. Higher level of coaching provided to the players
To be honest the real question you need to ask your kid is if playing the game at the University or professional level is something that THEY really want. Too often parents assume what their kids want to play at the next level or try and live out their own dreams through their kids when the kid just likes messing around with friends and doesn't care to take it as seriously as the parents do.
Now if your kid is really turning into a proper player and wants to one day get a scholarship, play professionally or just want the next challenge at the club level they they definitely need to be playing on the best travel soccer teams they can find. It is certainly worth it because of the opportunity and fun it can bring to your kid along with some of the best memories they will reminisce about as they get older.
Of course it will depend on which travel team you join but typically for year round training it will cost somewhere in the $2500-$4000 range to be a part of these travel soccer teams. Now if you break it down it's about $200-$300 a month which isn't cheap but is the going rate for any player to be a part of these teams. What you are really paying for is better coaching, competition, more games, more training, more exposure to the next level and probably some nice gear that includes a track suit, some training shirts and shorts and a bag.
Compared to the recreational level which will be significantly less then the number above (probably somewhere close to $400 for the year) it can be a significant jump but is certainly worth it if your kid has ambitions to get a scholarship or play professionally. This is not only a financial decision you need to consider but also a time and commitment one. Not only will your kid be training 3-5 times a week and travelling on certain weekends they will also be spending less time doing other extra curricular activities, hanging out with friends and even schoolwork. Their attention will be spread thin so it's important to understand what you're getting yourself into before you start to have all these different conflicts in sport, school and other social activities.
What I would say right off the bat is it's better to find travel soccer teams that your son or daughter will be able to compete for playing time right away versus a top team that they may struggle to get playing time. You can find travel soccer teams that provide the experience of playing at a higher level, with better coaches and players that also gives your kid the best chance to play.
Now that they are on a team where they can compete for playing time they have to earn every minute that they play. I'm sure most coaches will do their best to get everyone some time but in the difficult games where you really need a win some players will be prioritized more than others to get the result. You have to be aware and ready for this as your kid may not get the playing time that you want and this can also serve as a great lesson and motivator for them with regards to having to improve and develop to beat out the person in your position. The older they get and as they move into the University setting one day they need to understand that if they aren't playing they have nobody to blame but themselves, too often parents want to blame the coach but if your son or daughter was clear and away the best player on the team they wouldn't be getting limited playing time. This is one of the toughest lessons players learn as they join travel soccer teams, having to bring their best performance to every practice and game to get more and more time and prove to the coach why they should be starting.