An alternate title could be…I hate this time of year!!!!
After State Cup, all the youngers launch into full tryout mode. Granted some girls have been training with other teams for a while, but the craziness goes into full force after State Cup. Even if you love your coach and your club, just remember they are looking out for themselves first. Honesty isn’t always a high priority and rumors fly around unchecked at this time of year.
When I look back to Soccer Girl #1’s post U9 season, I realize just how naive I was! I listened to the lies the coach told and then was burned in the end because I didn’t know to explore other options for my child. Now that I’ve had some experience, here’s some suggestions of what to do at the end of the season if you’re unsure about your child’s place on his/her team:
- Talk to the coach. Ask for an assessment of your child. If you are not happy with the team, or the coach tells you anything other than “I want little Susie on the team for next year and she’s one of my top players” then proceed to the next step
- Be Realistic. Don’t try to get your child on a top team if they are just going to be a bench warmer. At some clubs the “B” teams can be an excellent choice with a great coach that can give your child a chance to play and develop. At other clubs they are just an afterthought and a way to fund the A teams.
- Scope out other teams in your area. Who are the coaches? Does your child have friends on those teams? How is the quality and reputation of the club?
- Contact the coaches of teams that are of interest. Attend the tryouts (if possible) but also arrange for your child to attend a team practice. This is a much better way to see if the team is a possible good fit for your child. Just remember if the coach really wants your child on the team he/she may tell you anything you want to hear (“Yes, little Johnny will only play striker and never play in goal”)
- Be discreet, but honest. The soccer world is very small and word will get out quickly if your child shows up at tryouts for another club. Unless you are trying to create some drama, being upfront with your current coach may help.
- Don’t burn your bridges. Again, the soccer world is small and coaches move clubs frequently. This probably doesn’t apply if your kid is a superstar, but it does to the rest of us.
- Talk to your child. This process can be really confusing for kids. Ask your child where they would like to play and why. They may talk about friends, but they may talk about why they like/don’t like the coach or the way that the team practices. When kids move into the higher levels, the right team and club can be all important, but at the younger years you want kids to enjoy playing and love their coach and teammates.
- Remember that you, the parents, are in charge. You, as the one paying the bills, have the ability to make the choices for your child. Coaches and clubs might pressure you in different ways, but ultimately the power lies with you. If you are trying to get on one team and have an offer from another, you can use that as leverage. Sometimes this works, other times it may not, but at least you’ve kept the options open for your child. Make sure you do what is best for your child.
I’m no expert, but I wish someone had told me all of the above before I had to figure it out for myself. I’m hoping that we’ll stay at the same club, but who knows what’s in store for next year. All I know is that as the parent, I’m going to do what I believe is right for my kids.