If your child is interested in playing soccer at a more competitive level, you may have heard about travel soccer.
Travel soccer is a step up from recreational soccer and is designed for players who want to take their skills to the next level.
Is travel soccer worth it? Is it a good fit for your kid, or should they play rec instead? In this article, we’ll explore what travel soccer is, how it differs from recreational soccer, and what you can expect if your child decides to join a travel soccer team.
Understanding Travel Soccer
If you are looking for a more competitive level of youth soccer, then travel might be the right choice for your child! Teams are made up of players who have tried out and been selected based on their skills and abilities. With this said, there may be instances where a child could not make the team.
Travel soccer is different from recreational soccer in that it requires a bigger time commitment and costs more. Players are expected to attend practices and games regularly and may need to travel to games and tournaments that are more regional than local. So, instead of playing in your town every Saturday morning, you may have to travel 45 min. to compete against another town in your state.
Teams are typically more competitive than recreational teams and may participate in higher-level leagues or tournaments. This can be a great way for players to challenge themselves and improve their game.
It is important to note that travel soccer is not for everyone. It requires a significant time, energy, and financial commitment from both the player and their family. Before deciding to join a travel soccer team, it is important to consider your goals, abilities, and personal circumstances to determine if it is the right choice for you.
Benefits of Travel Soccer
If you’re considering travel soccer for your child, you may be wondering what benefits it can offer. Here are some of the advantages of playing travel:
One of the main benefits of competitive soccer is that it provides players with the opportunity to develop their skills more often.
Not always but many travel teams have more experienced coaches who can help players improve their technique, tactics, and physical fitness. Coaches are still volunteers (not paid) but take it more seriously than a rec program.
Players are also exposed to a higher level of competition, which can help them develop their skills more quickly.
Exposure and Opportunities
Travel soccer can provide players with exposure to club soccer coaches and directors.
Players who perform well in these situations may be invited to participate in elite camps or tournaments, which can further enhance their skills and increase their chances of playing at the next tier in U.S. soccer which is playing for a local club team.
Teamwork and Social Skills
Sports, in general, can help players develop valuable social and teamwork skills. Players must work together to achieve their goals and learn to communicate effectively with their teammates. This can help them develop leadership skills, build confidence, and learn how to work well with others.
In addition, travel soccer often involves traveling to different cities for games and tournaments. This can provide players with the opportunity to meet new people, hang out with their buddies outside of soccer, and develop a sense of independence and responsibility.
Requirements for Travel Soccer
There are certain requirements for travel soccer and we’ll explore them in this section.
Age and Skill Level
Most teams are organized by age group, with teams ranging from U9 to U19. The age group that you will play in will depend on your birth year. Please note that travel soccer tends to be more popular in the younger age groups where there are more opportunities. When you get to U14 and older, there are school teams (middle school and high school) thrown into the mix.
Commitment and Dedication
Travel requires more commitment of time and effort than a rec program. Players are usually expected to attend multiple practices per week, as well as weekend games and tournaments.
Additionally, players are expected to maintain a certain level of fitness and conditioning outside of practice. If you are considering joining a team, it is important to be prepared to make this level of commitment.
Travel soccer can also be more expensive than recreational soccer. In addition to the cost of equipment and uniforms, players may be required to pay for tournament fees, travel expenses, and other expenses related to the team. It is important to consider these costs before trying out for atravel soccer team.
In our town, the rec program is $65 whereas the travel program is $250. This is still much lower than a soccer club which could be more than $5,000 when all is said and done.
How to Get Started in Travel Soccer
If you’re interested in joining a team, there are a few key steps you need to take to get started. Here are some things to consider:
Finding a Local Team
Most towns will have a rec and travel program that are associated with each other. Go to your local youth sports website and dig into the information provided.
For the upcoming season, tryouts usually happen in the spring. If you want to play in the fall of 2024, tryouts is probably spring or early summer of 2024. You should not wait until the summer to start figuring it out.
If your local town does not have a travel team, check neighboring towns to join. In most cases, you don’t need to be from that town to play on their team.
Tryouts and Selection Process
Most teams hold tryouts to select players for their teams. As I mentioned, these tryouts are typically held months before, and they give coaches a chance to evaluate players’ skills and abilities.
They’ll be evaluating your technical skills, tactical abilities, physical fitness, and mental toughness. If you’re selected for a travel team, congratulations! You’ll have the opportunity to play against some of the best local teams in your area, and to develop your skills as a player.
Potential Challenges of Travel Soccer
Here are some potential challenges that you should consider before signing up for a travel soccer team.
Travel soccer requires a significant time commitment. You will likely have to attend several practices a week, as well as games on weekends.
If you play flag football, tackle football, or any other fall sport, it could be tough juggling it all. I would reach out to the soccer director and figure out if it’s doable to play another sport. If not, travel soccer should keep you busy!
As the name suggests, travel soccer involves a lot of travel. You may have to travel to other cities or even other states for games and tournaments.
This can be expensive and time-consuming, especially for larger families or families who are already strapped for time.
But, since it’s a local team, carpooling is always recommended for practices and games.
Balancing School and Soccer
If a child hasn’t played a competitive sport before, it could be challenging to balance soccer and school. Most practices are in the evening so it’s important they do any homework in the small window they have after school. This will make your and their life so much easier.
To Conclude – JUST HAVE FUN
For players (and parents), it’s important to remember that soccer is a game and supposed to be fun. Try your best and have fun. It’s easy to do both!
It’s also essential to prioritize development over wins and losses. Have a long-term mindset when it comes to getting better. Very little happens in a week but a lot can happen in six months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Travel soccer is usually more expensive than recreational soccer due to additional expenses such as travel, leagues, and tournament fees. However, the benefits of playing travel soccer include a higher level of competition and more opportunities for skill development. Ultimately, whether travel soccer is worth the extra cost depends on the player’s goals and priorities.
Travel soccer is a type of club soccer that emphasizes competitive play and requires travel to games and tournaments usually within state borders. On the other hand, club soccer is the next tier up and usually has paid coaches and more travel requirements. For this reason, club soccer costs much more than travel soccer.
The travel soccer season typically starts in the fall and spring. However, some clubs may have different schedules or offer year-round play. It’s important to check with your local club for specific season dates.
You can find travel soccer teams near you by searching for your local youth sports organization. Typically, they will have important dates and a registration form for tryouts. You can also get recommendations from other parents and coaches in the community.