Frequently Asked Travel Soccer Questions
What is Travel Soccer?
Travel Soccer is competitive soccer played against teams from other towns or communities. Games are played in the Western NY area as a member of the Buffalo & Western NY Junior Soccer League. Travel soccer is designed for players and parents who are willing to make a higher level of commitment in time, effort, training and competition. Players who have shown an interest and ability greater than most grassroots players can benefit from moving to travel soccer.
Each player is expected and required to make a commitment to dedicating the time and effort necessary to continually improve his or her individual skills while contributing to their team. Time commitments are normally 2-3 team training sessions per week and additional conditioning and skill development on their own time. Weekly matches are played at home at Newstead Veterans Park and away matches are played against other clubs facilities in the Buffalo/Western New York area. Generally speaking, away games are within a one hour drive time at most. There is also travel to local tournaments depending on the interests of the coaches, parents and players. The commitment is expected to be honored through the entire season. Do not join a team if you are unwilling to honor a commitment to attend and participate from the start of team activities thru the end of July.
How is Travel Soccer different from Grassroots (house league) soccer?
There are three basic levels of soccer: grassroots (house), travel, premier (for-profit clubs). Each level provides an increased level of commitment and cost. Parents and players must decide the level that suits them. Most young children benefit from playing with their friends and classmates in their own community, at least until they are older, have developed their skills in the correct environment or are ready to commit to one sport.
What if my child plays another sport?
Travel soccer is not for everyone. A substantial time commitment is required. That being said, many of our players are able to juggle a schedule that includes baseball, basketball, swimming, dance, etc. Our coaches are expected to offer some consideration during the winter training season for conflicts. No one expects a child that is 8-12 years old to focus on just one sport or activity. Older children often play high school sports and the season starts later in May to accommodate game conflicts. Once the outdoor season begins, soccer must become your first priority. If you are 13 and a travel baseball player, you would not be able to commit to travel soccer. Just because someone wants to play a spring high school sport does not relieve them of their commitment to the soccer team. Spring is our in-season time and playing time will be decreased if attendance is not regular. There will be a pre-season meeting to explain expectations. Every child who plays travel is expected to commit to all team activities during the full year, not just games. Do not expect to receive much playing time if you show up for games and not practices. Commitment is important to teach to children and we expect the parents to be involved in maintaining this character trait.
What Travel Soccer is Not:
- It is not for those who can not dedicate the time each week to the development of their individual skills and also those of the team. Potential players who have multiple other commitments to extracurricular activities and other sports should participate in the Akron Soccer League Grassroots program which does not demand the same level of time commitment
- It is not every player gets the same amount of playing time (except at U10-U12 players do get similar time on the field). Players are expected to earn their playing time.
What are the expectations of a Travel player?
Players are expected to dedicate the time and effort necessary to continually improve his or her individual skills while contributing to the team’s success. In order to thrive in a competitive soccer environment, the player must have a sincere desire to improve. Player expectations include:
· Representing the team and the Akron club in a positive manner at all times.
· Being on time for practice and pre-game warm-ups.
· Notifying a coach in advance, to the greatest extent possible, of an absence or tardiness.
· Attending, to the greatest extent possible, all practices and games. Generally 2-3 practices per week and weekly games. This is necessary for a team to develop into a competitive unit.
· Coming to each game prepared and dressed to play (shin guards, home and away uniforms, ball, socks, cleats, water bottle, etc.).
· Maintaining a positive mental attitude with coaches and teammates as reflected in interpersonal interactions at practices and games.
· Continually developing skills on non-practice days.
· Dedicating time to off-season conditioning and training.
· Representing a ‘committed’ image by doing such things as keeping shirts tucked in at all times during games, hair out of face, laces tied, etc.
· Paying attention and respecting coaches and trainers during club activities, practices and games.
· Displaying good sportsmanship at all times toward the team, opponents and referees.
What are the Parent responsibilities?
Akron Soccer League expects each parent to be supportive of their child and the club by getting your child to practice and games on time, helping them to be regular in attendance at all or most activities, scheduling vacations after the season ends, showing consideration to the coach and team by giving notice of absence as early as possible, paying your fees to the club and team timely, and by volunteering your time to help with the Akron Soccer League Kick-It First Tournament (our only fundraiser) and any other small requests we may have to accomplish our task. Remember, we expect attendance at most of all team activities- practices, games and social events. Once a family and child commits to a travel team, we hope the parent will help to assure that the commitment is honored for the season.
What if my player doesn’t make a Travel team?
The Akron Soccer League encourages your child to continue playing soccer in our Grassroots Soccer program where they can continue to develop their skills and understanding of the game. Every child grows and develops at a different pace. If player development is viewed as a “marathon and not a sprint”, the important point is that a player moves to the Travel Soccer level when they are ready and prepared, not when they simply reach a milestone birthday or school grade. It is not in anyone’s best interest to promote a player past their capabilities and then have them suffer a crisis in confidence which may cause them to lose enjoyment and interest in the sport. It is understood that coaches and the ASL staff constantly assess and evaluate player performance. These ongoing assessments (from current year coaches) will weigh into player placement decisions for the upcoming season.
What is Premier soccer?
Premier Soccer is for children who show exceptional soccer development and passion for the sport. Not everyone will choose this option since they may be a multi-sport athlete or have other interests that they would be required to drop to focus on soccer. For that reason, premier teams have some of the best players but, also accept some who are willing to commit the time and money that may not be elite. Several clubs in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse try to recruit the better players to come to play for them. Most are for-profit enterprises that exist as franchises or specifically to provide an income stream to people trying to make a living from coaching. They will accept anyone from any town. Sometimes, but not always, at certain age groups, they are successful in convincing many of the best players to come to their club. Many children are ready to commit to one sport and understand they will be training and playing soccer four or five days per week. Many clubs do not tolerate absence for school sports. They have various policies on playing time for all ages and are not specifically dedicated to the process of what is best for child development. These teams usually play in a higher level league, travel more and farther, and visit more out of town tournaments. Ask to speak to someone for opinions and talk to other parents of older children who have experienced the premier programs before committing over $3000 and much more time to youth soccer. Ask the premier programs for names and where their kids ended up in college, if that is your goal, and how much scholarship money they got, before assuming that is the end result. Use our resources and speak to us about various recruitments and clubs. We will be honest and encourage and promote the best level for every player. ASL does not try to hold back any player from seeking their highest level of play and encourages moving to premier for some.