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Parent Education Series: Recreational Soccer vs Competitive Soccer

Parent Education Series

In our second edition of our Parent Education series, we are going to be looking into the process of tryouts. For many families the tryout process can be stressful and difficult to handle correctly. We will take a look at the pros and cons of recreational and competitive soccer to help you determine what program would be best for you and your child. We will then look into some ways that you as a parent can help support your player through the entire tryout process.

Recreational Soccer vs Competitive Soccer

Skyline begins to offer tryout teams moving into the U11 age group. For most clubs across the country this age will be somewhat similar, but can vary to both older and younger teams by a few years. Some clubs may offer something similar to Skyline’s Jr. Select program, a pre-competitive program that is designed to help players, parents and coaches be ready for the tryout process and preparing teams to compete. These programs are usually a huge help for all parties by pushing player development, helping players and parents understand the commitment of a competitive program, and helping players create new friendships so they can be more comfortable on day one of their new tryout team.

For all players who end up going into competitive soccer, there is a transition from the world of recreational soccer into the driven culture of a competitive team.

Some of the major differences are:

  • Price – While recreational soccer usually remains very affordable, most competitive programs do require higher fees. The additional fees are usually to cover coaching fees, fees that the league may charge to enter into higher levels of competition, higher referee costs, higher administrative costs, and other costs associated with playing at a higher level.
  • Time Commitment – Many recreational teams have lower expectations for player attendance and have fewer or shorter practices. Most competitive players will run into major issues if they miss practice or games and will be expected to put more time into practicing.
  • Travel – Very few rec teams will venture to out of state tournaments and games and typically will stay close to home. Many competitive teams are expected to attend multiple tournaments, some of which may be out of state.
  • Developmental Approach – For the most part rec teams focus on players having fun and playing with friends before looking to develop players. Competitive programs will either have goals related to development of players and/or related to winning games and tournaments.

In the end, both recreational and competitive programs can be an amazing experience for many players. Knowing the expectations, developmental approach, and general atmosphere of your club is vital to having a good experience in both the recreational and competitive program. Parents should contact your club’s program director with specific questions in order to understand what the differences are before deciding to pursue a competitive or recreational team for their child.

As mentioned previously, Skyline begins tryouts and competitive teams at the U11 level. We also offer a pre-competitive program called Jr. Select at the U9 and U10 age groups for players who want to experience a small part of what the competitive program. Any parents looking for more information on what may be best for their child should contact the program director for their specific age group with questions and for further information.

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U9-U10 Director
Asst. Director of Coaching
Liz Grier

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U11-U18 Director
Director of Coaching
Neal Didonna

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Please check out the other articles in our Parent Education Series here:

The Need For Soccer Parent Education
Sideline Behavior and How It Affects Your Player

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