Finding The Right Fit - Questions To Ask When Choosing A Local Soccer Program

We asked our community what questions they have about starting their kids in soccer programs and there's a lot that came up! Specifically:  

  • What's the overall Cost?
  • What should I look for in a program?
  • Is my kid ready?
  • How do I find the right program? 

... and so much more. 

Considering these conversations, we put together a list of questions and topics you should be considering when looking at programs local to you to help you find the right fit. 


We can all agree that sitting in a car isn't fun for kids or parents! Before choosing a program, consider where they practice and where they have matches. Playing soccer for young kids is mostly about promoting a healthy lifestyle. If you're adding a 45-minute car ride on a school night to go to what everyone says is the "best program", it kind of defeats the purpose and may be unnecessary. Stay local and keep it easy! 


Often there are hidden costs with programs that you didn't know about. 
Questions to consider: 
- What is the actual overall cost of what I am signing up for? 
- What does it include? Some teams include uniforms.
- What does it not include? Uniforms, cleats, equipment, etc.? 
- Are there any unexpected fees that could come up? 
- Are goalkeeper gloves, jersey, training included or is it to be paid out of pocket by the keeper’s parents?
- Can the fees be paid over time? 
- Is there any scholarship money available for players?

Who Are the Coaches?

A coach can really make or break a child's experience! For many local programs, coaches are amazing parents who volunteer their time to coach. While their heart may be in the right place, many parents don't always understand the developmental needs of kids in terms of sports. If you're turning to a coach as an "expert" while the coach is really just winging it, that can really affect your child's experience. We see it over and over again -- kids don't want to play because they think they are not good at it, when really the coach never helped teach them properly. 
Questions to consider: 
- What kind of support the program offers coaches-- do they give them training videos, help them with planning, creating rosters, etc. 
- What qualifications and experience do coaches have? Does it include experience with your age group?
- Who is my coach going to be? Is that a guarantee? I have a firm belief that the coach should be one of those most important factors when choosing a team. If the coach is a "coach to be assigned later" you may want to look for added assurances.
- How does the coach decide who plays what and when? 
- What's the ratio of Coaches to players? 


With young kids, culture is everything! When kids are making friends, they are more likely to WANT to play. Find out how the programs foster a culture that you will all enjoy. 
Questions to consider: 
- Do they create a positive environment? 
- Do they promote kids getting to know each other? (through parties, outside play, etc)
- Do they emphasize making it fun? (vs. boring drills where kids lose interest)

Winning vs. Development

So many programs say that development is their priority, but when you look closer, they're actually chasing trophies. Don't get lured in by programs that say they've won state championships or have developed all kinds of college players. At young ages, development is key!
Questions to consider: 
- Do all kids get equal playing time and get to try to play different positions? 
- Is there a plan to develop fundamental skills or is the coach just trying different drills? (I saw one program where kids played bubbles the entire time! Sure it was fun for them ... but there was no soccer fun)
- How much individual feedback do you get? 

- How many of the kids that played last year are still playing this year? (this tells you if they had a good experience!)


When considering your program options, there are a number of ways to find the information you're looking for.  
  1. Speak to parents who have gone through the program before.
  2. Speak to the management staff and ask if they have a coaching director. 
  3. Look through their website, yelp and google reviews. Look at their philosophy on their website and you can get a sense of how competitive (or not competitive) they are. 
Ultimately, there's always a degree of trial and error when it comes to local soccer programs. Doing a little bit of research can go a long way with ensuring your child has a positive experience. When kids come with the confidence that they can play, they are more likely to want to stick with it! We've said it before and we'll say it again now - the only goal you should have is for them to ask to play again! 

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