How to choose the soccer team to join?

What to do with multiple offers?

Soccer tryouts can be a fun, but also frustrating experience. I already talked about how to run it as a coach/club and how to succeed as a player. Assuming you have done well and you have several offers, how do you choose which one to take? Do you join the best soccer team? Do you join the team where you will be the star? Do you join the team with the best coach? Do you join the team with the best facilities? Do you take into account the finances?

I will give advice to the players, as they need to make the decision. However, parents and coaches can benefit greatly from understanding the business of the club and the psychology behind these thoughts. Parents should consider all of these points to help the players make the right decision, while coaches should understand them in order to keep their best players on the team and also not keep players that will drag the team back, often to no fault of their own.

5 things to consider when choosing to join a soccer team

1. Will I get plenty of playing time?

If you are not sure if you will get enough playing time… run as far away as you can! There should be competition within the team and that is healthy. However, if you try your best and you are not sure that you will get playing time unless there is a sickness or an injury, you should not accept the spot on the team unless you are getting paid an extraordinary amount of money to do so. A story from a player – he was a returning player, offered a spot by his coach with the words “the 20th player even though we usually have only 18”. What is the point to take a spot if you know you won’t play? Knowing that you have 10 years to reach college or professional level, from 8 to 18, would you spend a year sitting on the bench?

2. Am I pushed to perform better?

Being a star on any team can be great for your self-confidence. However, no matter how mature you are, there is no way you will develop as well as you could if you are not in a competitive environment. Likely you will become arrogant, and lazy and will not develop the muscle to overcome tough challenges. Furthermore, you will need to find the right soccer position in a competitive team and not just roam freely everywhere because of physical or technical superiority.

3. Is this a supportive environment?

This is usually connected to the culture that the coach has set. You have to be able become the best version of yourself as a soccer player. There are coaches that are technically and tactically excellent, but their ability to create an environment where players support each other instead of bullying each other is missing. I would say that over half of the coaches I have met don’t have this under control and think there is nothing they can do, but that is not true. Be careful when you observe them at tryouts and if possible at games – both boys and girls can cause serious emotional harm to their teammates, as well as parents being obsessed with winning.

4. Can learn from the coaches?

Almost always there is something to learn from the coaches. The first filter is to see if the coaches are interested in giving that knowledge to you and are not scrolling on their phones during practices – I’ve seen that hundreds of times, setting the drill and getting on their phones. Assuming that’s true, you need to understand if those things are relevant in the world of soccer – the best way to find out is to have a chat with them after the tryouts: which position did you play? which position do you think I should play? what is the strength of our team? What is the main focus of the upcoming season?

5. Am I paying the appropriate amount for what I am getting?

This one is hard to determine and it’s not something you can easily address when you choose to join a soccer team. However, the truth is that many clubs that make money on youth soccer only operate in a way where for each age group there are several teams, let’s call them Martians A through Martians F. What usually happens is that each player pays the same. However, the best facilities, the best coaches, and the best opportunities to improve. For example, larger funds for tournaments, frequent practices, traveling, go to the A team. More blatantly, B through F usually funds the A team. Now, are you paying too much if you are offered a spot on the Martians B or Martians F? That’s up to you to decide.