Fall & Spring Ball

Please remember these series of blogs are entirely my own experience, I only hope such insight aid’s you as an individual and professional as you embark on an unbelievable experience in the United States (US). And at no point I’m I stating that the current US structure is right or wrong, only providing an insight.

For soccer coaches considering embarking on a life-changing opportunity coaching in the US, it’s important to understand and recognise that depending on the location, competitive soccer is structured slightly different in comparison to the UK (United Kingdom). Unknown

As previously mentioned, I was based in Connecticut, (CT) within a very successful town program that provided hundreds of children the opportunity to firstly participate and progressively competes in soccer. As we know it in the UK, soccer season typically begins in September runs through until late April (Depending on age, location and of course weather).  In the US, typically children participate in soccer during Fall (April – June) and Spring (Sept – Nov). You may ask, what do they do during the other months? We’ll discuss the answer further on in the blog. Firstly, it’s important to distinguish the different categorizes within the US structure:

Recreation:

  • Age range of participation U6 – U18
  • Made up of players assigned to a team in a random manner without regard to the ability of the players – as opposed to “travel” soccer where the players are selected to be on a team through some sort of tryout or selection process.
  • Devoted towards enjoyment, fun and participation
  • Learn the sport and develop life skills including a life-long love of the game
  • Less competitive” than “travel” soccer.
  • “Lower intensity” for practices.
  • “Less travel”, fewer games (Typically participating against other teams from the same club/organization = In-House)
  • Often parent coaches and/or volunteers.
  • Less cost in comparison to “Travel and Premier” in many locations.

Travel:

  • Age of participation u9 – u18
  • Try-out or selection process every year
  • Learn the sport and develop life skills including a life-long love of the game
  • More competitive
  • Licensed, often experienced soccer coaches
  • High Intensity of games and practices
  • More Travel – (Participating against team within the same region)
  • Playing Time not guaranteed
  • Often team based upon ability (Even at younger ages:)
  • Increased level of costs in comparison to Recreational.
  • Players’ development is of the utmost importance (Not always the case with specifically younger ages 9-11)
  • Only 3 out-of-town players per roster
  • Financial support provided for low-income families

Premier:

  • Age of participation U9 – U18
  • Recognizable by having full-time professional coaches
  • Recruitment & Selection of players
  • Draws players from several communities
  • Based upon ability
  • High level of intensity of games and practices
  • Further, travel distances
  • Elite tournaments and showcases
  • Often known for high costs towards tuition fee (Fee to participate)
  • Financial support provided for low-income families

How does it work?

U9 and U10 teams play 7 v 7; therefore, a roster will have not more than 12 players. At U11 and U12, the teams play 8 v 8 and rosters can not exceed 14 players. At U13, the teams play 11 v 11 and roster sizes can be increased to 18.

It’s important to recognize that, participation within any of the following cost money and the fee is more or less dependent on a club, location and level. It’s not cheap and accessible to all within the current structure of paying to play.

Fall & Spring ball:

These months are congested with game schedules, with teams typically playing two games per weekend, alongside two sometimes three practices a week. In addition, many teams participate within two tournaments (3 or 4 games per tournament) every Fall & Spring.

Real Example:

During Fall 2015 our U10 soccer team participated within the following:

  • 18 Games
  • 30+ Practice Sessions
  • 2 Tournaments (3 or 4 games per tournament)

** Never mind the other sporting activities many children participate within.

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Other months of the year:

Summer season (depending on location and club)

  • Vacation season
  • Attend specialised sporting camps
  • Summer soccer leagues or soccer tournaments.

Winter in CT – (depending on location and club)

  • No outdoor soccer season
  • Indoor winter soccer
  • Futsal league
  • Practice is normally once a week.
  • Attend specialised sporting camps

Remember: Children in the US typically participate in a vast amount of sporting activities, for example, American football, lacrosse, ice hockey, basketball, baseball only to name a few. Often or not many players and their families will participate in as many of the listed sports throughout the calendar year.

I leave you with one note; being a soccer coach in the US, I most certainly learned and adapted to children participating in several sports across the year. No coaching courses will teach you, what you will learn from the experiences abroad.

Thank you

The Sporting Influencer