What is Travel Soccer?
If your child is currently playing on a recreational soccer team and stands out among his or her peers and seems to not be challenged enough, it may be a sign that he or she is ready to play on a travel soccer team. Travel soccer is a more competitive form of recreational soccer, and as the name suggests, calls for traveling to different locations on game day. Oftentimes the players on a travel team are more even in terms of skill, and they have a more ambitious and strong mindset to really improve every time they step foot on the field. Another major difference is that in travel soccer, players need to not only EARN their place on their team roster, but also earn their playing time.
What age do you need to be to play travel soccer?
There is no nationally agreed upon minimum age restriction, you would need to find out with your nearest youth soccer club, however, generally the youngest age is 8 years old, or the u9 age group. It is important to note that in the younger age groups, the rules can be different than the normal rules of soccer. Oftentimes the oldest age group for travel soccer is the u19 group, or 18 years old.
How much does travel Soccer Cost?
Admittedly there is A LOT of debate and controversy related with the cost of travel soccer programs and leagues. The simplest answer for this question is: it varies. There was one article where two parents from California spent around $17k per year for both of their boys to play for their club. However, this is an extreme case and only the vast minority pay $8k per year per child. According to USA Today, the average is much more closer to $2,000 – $5,000 per year along with traveling costs such as hotels, transportation, food etc, but it really depends on your location and the club. Some clubs offer membership dues that come out to even less than $2,000.
Is Travel Soccer Worth It?
Like anything in life there are pros and cons. Heres a top 3 for the pros and cons of travel soccer.
There’s no doubt that competition creates a strong character and helps you become a better, stronger version of yourself. Just as the only way a bodybuilder gains muscle is by pushing his limits during his exercise, is the same way any athlete grows and gets better. As any athlete meets an opponent of equal skill, they are forced to dig deep within themself to overcome the obstacle so that they can win. These achievements are amazing moments and allow these athletes to gain some awesome levels of self confidence, which will help them throughout their life.
2. Physical and Mental Health
What better way to stay fit than to join a team sport. The best part is that you are doing this while having fun! This is becoming especially more important as kids nowadays are more prone to sit around the house and be entertained by millions of distractions on the internet.
3. Social Impact
Being surrounded by teammates who love the sports just as much as your child has the potential of offering lifetime friendships, which lead to a better quality of life and feeling of accomplishment. Other social benefits include better communication, teamwork skills, and time management, as well a huge impact on self confidence.
Like we talked about earlier, cost could be one of the most prohibitive factors for youth travel soccer. Again, location and club is a huge factor in the affordability of travel soccer.
2. Time commitment
Like our previous comparison to recreation soccer, travel soccer calls for more practices and away games that result in multi hour road trips. Some may see this as a pro, as it allows you to spend quality time with the family, but this could easily be a major problem for many families.
One of the most alarming problems with travel soccer is burnout due to the many hours per week spent on training, games, and infrequent breaks. Having said that, Soccer Wire just released a great article on tips of how to avoid youth soccer burnout.
Where can You Sign up for Travel Soccer
The good news is that travel soccer clubs can be found in almost every American city throughout the country. Consider making a quick google search, check out the clubs website and determine if their values seem like a good fit. If you are reading this, then chances are that your child already plays recreational soccer. If that is the case then consider asking the coach or some other parents about some local travel teams.
Hopefully the information we provided to you helps in your decision to help your child on their journey within travel soccer. If you are still unsure, keep your child in the rec league and take your time in making the decision and allow them and your family to continue to enjoy the beautiful game! If you happen to be located in the NYC area, consider taking a look at the programs we offer as well as our club philosophy.