New this season, all WBSA players can try on uniforms before we finalize the order to get the size they want. We are partnering with Soccer Post in Round Rock on uniforms. They've ordered a set of example sizes of jerseys for players and coaches to try on for size.
All U8 and younger teams will be getting High 5 kits and need to ask for the High 5 samples to try on.
All U9 and older teams will be getting Joma kits and need to ask for the Joma samples to try on. When updating Got Soccer with your preferred size, also update the preferred # you want on the back of your jersey. If two players request the same number, one will need to pick a different number and will be contacted.
And, for our WBSA coaches, this season we will be purchasing nice, white Combi (by Joma) jerseys with the WBSA logo on the front pocket area and "COACH" on the back. You can also try on jersey samples at Soccer Post in Round Rock and pick the size you want. Just ask for the Joma samples to try on. You, too, will then need to update Got Soccer with your preferred jersey size.
If you miss these dates, WBSA will do our best to fulfill the sizes but we can't guarantee you'll get the exact size you want. WBSA must place uniform orders well before the season starts so that we've got uniforms in time for the first game. As such, we'll order the sizes requested via Got Soccer and then make size estimates for the rest of the players and coaches.
So, take a quick trip to Soccer Post in Round Rock at the corner of IH-35 and FM 620 in the shopping center with Sprouts, McDonalds, Starbucks and Kaleidoscope Toys and try on the jerseys! Soccer Post's hours are M – Sat 10AM to 7PM and Sunday from 11AM to 5PM.
If you've already registered this season and just need to update the jersey size, email the preferred size info to firstname.lastname@example.org BEFORE the deadlines noted above.
And, not sure the age bracket of your player (and whether they need to try on the High 5 or Joma jerseys)? More info here: http://wellsbranchsoccer.weebly.com/blog/soccer-age-group-mathematics
Wells Branch is full of summer fun with swimming, tennis, soccer, basketball, camps and just riding and hiking around the trails. This summer you will see a new addition to that summer fun with GaGa ball pits located at the recreation center and in Katherine Fleischer park close to the volley ball courts.
Gaga is a fast paced, high energy sport played in an octagonal pit. Ga-ga (literally 'touch-touch' in Hebrew) is a variant of dodgeball. The game combines dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. The object, of course, is to be the last person standing. The more players the better!
The Wells Branch MUD Parks and Recreation team learned about this game from families returning from summer camps saying GaGa ball was the most fun they had while on vacation! This game became popular among Jewish camps during the 1970's and has seen a huge resurgence recently at camps, schools, and youth activity centers outside of the Jewish community. To some it is known as Israeli Dodgeball, Octo-Ball, or Panda Ball. It is commonly believed that the game was brought to the US Jewish summer camps by Israeli camp counselors.
Gaga Ball is a fun, easy game to learn and play. The basic object of the game is to eliminate your opponents by striking the ball and having it hit them below the knee (or waist) while trying to avoid being hit yourself. The game can be a one on one match up game or simply a larger group of individuals each playing against the group. To increase the fun and action for larger groups, often a second ball can be put into play as well. As with any playground game, the actual details of the GaGa Ball game rules will vary from location to location.
Have a great summer!
WBSA is participating in the annual Wells Branch Fourth Fest Parade and we’re looking for kids to join us on the float. If your kids are interested in joining us, have them wear their practice jersey, game jersey, or other soccer gear and meet us at the parade line-up in front of the Community Center on Klattenhoff Dr. by 9:30 on the 4th. Seating is limited and we will fill the float on a first come, first served basis. We may also need help decorating the float that morning and possibly supervising kids on the float.
Please contact Julie or Chris if you’re interested in helping.
Below is the Parade Route and other activities that will be held throughout the day:
2016 Parade Route (Leaves at 10:00am)
Start: Klattenhoff Dr. (facing west)
West on Klattenhoff
Right on Alpha Collier
Left on Maple Hollow Trail
Left on Gold Fish Pond Ave.
Right on Klattenhoff Dr.
Left on Merrilltown Dr.
Left Taylor Simonetti Ave.
10 am Parade, starts at the Community Center
11-2 pm Craft at the Homestead
11-3 pm Kiddy Train, Balloon Clowns, Giant Inflatable Slide, Inflatable Obstacle Course, Dunk Tank, Face Painting, Photo Booth, and Carnival games.
12-3 pm Games at KF Pool
Live Entertainment Under the Big Tent
11-11:45 am The Magic of Gus Davis, Magician
12:30-2 pm Live Music: Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers
2:30-3:15 pm Ian Varella, Ventriloquist
3:30-5 pm Live Music: Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers
KF Pool - 11:30am - 8:45pm
WB Pool - 12:00pm - 7:00pm
Fireworks begin at 9:00pm at the soccer field adjacent to the recreation center on Shoreline Dr.
We had tons of great conversations this week during tryouts with families from just about every soccer club in the North Austin, Pflugerville, and Round Rock area. Most had nearly identical questions and almost every family with players being exposed to "Select" soccer for the first time seemed to be confused about how to compare their options.
It's often difficult to differentiate one club from another, especially when external sources are providing extremely biased information. Namely, a club director or coach who is effectively recruiting your child (and making big promises), a family friend that may be trying to convince you to join their team, or another soccer parent that may be misinformed about how it all works.
We wanted to help our families sort through the chaos and make the most informed decision possible to ensure your child ends up in the development environment that is best for them. The following are the 5 things we'd encourage all our advanced families to consider.
Your child will be spending 5+ hours per week with the other players on the team. Can you say that about anyone else in their social circle (outside of classmates)? Speaking of which, the mandated age group changes will make it a near certainty that your team will have a collection of players across different grades, which has both benefits and drawbacks.
You'll want to assess...Is the group a collection of kids that could become best friends? Are they positive influences that will build your child's confidence? Is it a diverse group of unique personalities and perspectives? It sure would stink to just be joining a group of training partners.
We'll discuss later how select soccer requires a substantially larger commitment than recreational soccer. You'll want to be sure you are joining a group of families that have comparable expectations (whatever those may be). They say it takes a village to raise a child, so be sure you choose your village wisely.
If you are a soccer crazy family, you'll be disappointed if you aren't surrounded by other families that share your passion. Likewise, if you are not a soccer crazy family, you'll be in for a very long season if you are surrounded by parents who only want to "talk shop". We aren't necessarily advocating for one or the other, but be aware that you'll be spending 5+ hours at practices and games each week too.
Beyond the Field
The peers and families supporting your child will also influence your child's "off the field" activities. Team events (perhaps celebrating a good game over dinner) are part of it, but so is everything from thousands "micro-interactions" that take place during the season to a full blown get together or sleepover. Even just gossiping about school during water breaks, kicking the ball around after practices or heading to the park with teammates after the game will influence the development of your child's social and emotional intelligence. It can be hard to tell during a short tryout, so be sure to ask other parents on the team about what the culture is like beyond the field.
Any good director and coaching staff should ensure your child ends up playing against the appropriate competition. But you should consider more than the kids wearing another jersey.
As you move to increasingly competitive teams, odds are that you'll be facing increasingly competitive parents. While there are definitely benefits to exposing your child to competitive situations, you'll want to be mindful of where your family draws the line so the environment doesn't become one that you'd consider toxic.
WBSA and most other clubs have a strict "zero tolerance" policy. Yet, it's impossible to control the behavior of opposing parents - or even the parents on your team for that matter. Negative comments directed towards referees, players, coaches and other parents can unfortunately become a regular occurrence if folks lose perspective.
While there are plenty of capable recreational coaches that are quite knowledgable about soccer, the traditional model is a volunteer who has likely never played or coached and is often learning on the fly. On the contrary, most select programs are comprised of paid directors and coaches that lead teams based on a standard curriculum unique to their club.
US Soccer offers certifications that start with a basic "F" license (online training) all the way up to an "A" license, which would years to earn. While this can be an excellent proxy and is experience that coaches rightfully tout, they are not the only indication of someone's soccer knowledge.
Not all "C" license coaches are created equal for example, and you don't necessarily need extensive playing experience to move up the certification scale. Likewise, you may have an exceptional coach that simply has no desire to pursue formal certification for whatever reason. That's why the following factors are also very important to keep in mind.
"Those who can, do; those who can't, teach."
Okay, so that's not entirely fair. Just as a coach could theoretically earn a "B" license without ever playing a minute of soccer, there are plenty of professional soccer players who would be terrible instructors. That said, it's probably better to lean towards someone with extensive playing experience if you want your kid to get proper technical instruction.
"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."
You'd ideally have a coach who has mastered the most basic fundamentals as well as advanced individual and team concepts. Not only will they ensure your child "hears" the right things, but they can demonstrate to help you child "see" the right mechanics. Finally, a coach with playing experience can help your child "do" a given activity the right way.
Not everyone can play Premier League or World Cup soccer. However, a coach with college or high school varsity playing experience is great. Competing in state and regional championships at the club level or participating in the Olympic Development Program (ODP) during their youth playing days is also a good indicator of a successful playing career.
Of course, having a coach that is physically fit, modeling healthy behaviors, and still capable of playing alongside the kids during practice sessions also fosters a fun environment.
A fancy license, tons of playing experience, and strong instructional skills don't mean jack if a coach isn't good with kids. This is arguably the single most important factor when considering someone that is responsible for leading 10-18+ young men and women. Perhaps even more so at the younger ages, but obviously still important for the older age groups too.
I don't pretend to be a child development expert, but kids obviously have different needs at different stages. The social dynamics are also going to be very different between boys and girls teams. You may also have a team that requires more praise and positive reinforcement than a team in need of more discipline and constructive feedback. At that's just at the team-wide level.
Ideally you'd find a coach that is not only an expert at balancing these unique team dynamics, but someone with strong "individualization" skills. The coaching style that will bring out the best in your child is likely very different than the style that brings out the best in a teammate. The best coaches are those who are able to be 10-18 different coaches for the 10-18 different personalities on their team.
A lot of established clubs in the North Austin, Pflugerville and Round Rock areas take pride in the high school or college stars their programs have produced (and rightfully so). Parents understandably expect to see technical growth when you are shelling out that kind of money for an advanced soccer environment. Even if your child isn't the next Messi or Mia Hamm, one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of the game should be mastering new challenges and becoming proficient at the craft. It's the same as learning an instrument or a second language.
That being said, team sports provide a much larger platform for the development of young leaders through valuable life lessons. It's important to find a coach that can do more than teach players to win and lose gracefully (thought that's a great start). Working through differences with teammates, fostering collaboration and creative thinking, responding to adversity, emerging as a role model for peers, and seeking success through hard work are all lessons you hear athletes credit to team sports.
So seek out a coach that takes as much pride in the off-the-field successes of their players as their development as a soccer player. Find the club that takes pride in developing top students, servant leaders, creative thinkers and persistent dreamers. You want someone that coach more than just soccer.
Legendary coach John Wooden made his 4 laws of learning famous:
"The four laws of learning are explanation, demonstration, imitation and repetition. The goal is to create a correct habit that can be produced instinctively under great pressure. To make sure this goal was achieved, I create eight laws of learning — namely explanation, demonstration, imitation, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, and repetition."
In other words, you want to find an environment where your child is getting tons of touches on the ball every practice session. They need sufficient playing time in small-sided games and scrimmages. They don't need to be standing in lines. The can't be neglected of 1v1 instruction because coaches are stretched to thin. They shouldn't be riding the bench for a team that prioritizes winning over player development.
Don't let the allure of being on the "best" team or with the "best" coach reduce repetitions.
As the name implies, Select Soccer means that players are "selected" to their respective teams. Long gone are the days of registrars pursuing balanced rosters to ensure parity. Teams are formed based on skill and what's best for the club. You may have your request to be rostered with family friends approved initially, but that's subject to change. The harsh reality is that your child can be "unselected" just as quickly as they were "selected" to a given team.
In addition to thinking about their immediate needs, parents should find a development environment that allows their child to be excited about soccer for as long as they want to play. You should ask directors and coaches about the development plan for the players at your child's age group.
What happens when rosters increase from 4v4 (U6-U8) to 7v7 (U9-U10) to 9v9 (U11-U12) and eventually 11v11 (U13+)? What happens if an influx of new players tryout next season? What happens if your child either excels or falls behind peers on their team?
The initial sales pitch may sound sweet the night after your child rocks a tryout. Dig a little deeper to make sure the long term strategy for all those players (NOT the team) is sound as well. Coaches will make sure their TEAMS are just fine from season to season, but will the PLAYERS (which should be the priority) all be okay too?
Values & Vision
Youth soccer is changing drastically and America's obsession with sports is only growing. Sadly (and illegally) recruiting is also happening at increasingly younger ages. It seems any solid recreational team has an opposing club's director circling games like a buzzard, following families to the parking lot after games to "inform" them about Select options within their club.
We all want our kids to reach their full potential and it's understandable that parents will search far and wide for the best opportunities for their children. It's validation of your child's hard work, dedication and progress when they are presented with advanced playing opportunities. Both players and their families SHOULD feel immense pride when they navigate an intimidating tryout process and earn a spot on the team. What a great feeling and a great way for a young player to experience the rewards of hard work.
Any club worth considering will want (and empower) families to make the most informed decision possible. Timely decisions are certain important out of respect for other players trying out, but being pressured to make a rushed decision should raise some red flags. A truly great club will realize that THEY are trying out for you just as much as YOU are trying out for them. You should be also very cautious with any club that either a) acts like your kid is dispensable because their spot is so sought after, or b) acts desperate to get your child on the team because they need numbers.
You should do your homework and capture feedback from other families. If you are only hearing the good stories, you haven't talked to enough families in that club. Find parents that can tell you all the stuff they love about their club, as well as the areas for improvement. Heck, any strong leadership team will gladly be very candid about their own club's shortcomings and opportunities for growth. If they are only pumping sunshine and rainbows, be worried about all the future (uncomfortable but necessary) interactions regarding your child's development they will also mishandle.
Finally, while most if not all clubs are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, don't let that fool you. If you are paying big time money for Select soccer, there are people making big time paychecks (well, relative to clubs that are entirely volunteer driven). And just like with any job (because it is a job for those coaches and directors), with big time paychecks there comes big time expectations. And what's the most tangible metric families will (mistakenly) use to determine if expectations are being met? You got it - wins and losses. Which brings us back full circle to a something OTHER than total player development being the top priority.
So think through a club's guiding principles, the coaches' philosophy, and the overall mission and vision before making your choice.
Registration Fees, etc.
We have a whole blog post dedicated to the Economics of Soccer in the North Austin, Pflugerville and Round Rock Area. It's a great read for anyone seeking high level data on the typical costs associated with Select soccer. We won't repeat that information here, other than to say you'll be paying for a lot more than just registration fees. Expensive uniform kits, backpacks and warmups, "commitment" fees, volunteer buy-out fees, and tournament travel and entry fees are also typical.
Families should also think through any hidden costs they might incur during the season. Rushing kids to practice after work can be a challenge. Getting creative with homework routines, family dinners and bedtime can be tricky too. Planning for tournaments and offseason training will also likely be an expectation.
We sacrifice for our kids and juggle these things as parents all the time, so it's nothing new. Just be sure the costs of competitive soccer, both financially and otherwise, are not higher than what your family is comfortable spending. We each have a different "budget" based on our family dynamics, so find the right balance (field proximity, offseason expectations, registration fees, etc.) to meet your needs.
Keep in mind that everything mentioned above can, and most likely will, change at some point. Families will come and go, coaches will be asked to change teams, players will be moved "up" or "down" between competition levels, registration fees will be increased, and your child's interests and goals will inevitably evolve with time.
Knowing that things will get shaken up, it's important to understand what would cause the most disruption for your family. Priorities will obviously be different from family to family. Price may be the most important factor for some, while others are most concerned about finding a great coach. Playing time and immediate development opportunities might be what your child wants the most even if that means they are playing on a different team than their best friends.
Where will you find the most stability for the things your family cares about the most? Where will prices stay affordable if you are on a tight budget? Who will keep teams relatively constant if you've found a great group of friends? Is there a credible volunteer coach that is sure to be around next season because their child's on the team? Which has a clear (non-political) path for moving to more advanced teams if that's your child's goal?
When and where are tryouts?
Tryouts and Observation Days for the Fall 2016 season will be held on Monday June 6th and Tuesday June 7th. The event will be hosted on Sauls Field, which is near Willow Bend park on the corner of Sauls and Bratton. Please let us know you'll be attending and help our coaches plan by using the following link to register for tryouts.
What age groups will have select/Academy teams?
WBSA will offer advanced playing options in the following ages this season. We are likely to add additional age groups depending on internal interest and tryout attendance.
2008 Girls (Academy)
2006 Girls (DII)
2004 Girls (DII)
2003 Girls (DII)
2002 Boys (DII)
2005 Boys (DII)
Please note: Advanced players in younger age groups are welcome to tryout for an older team if they have an interest in competitive playing opportunities. If deemed ready and capable, younger players will be invited to "play up".
What if we are unable to attend tryouts?
Players are strong encouraged to attend at least one (and ideally both) tryout sessions. This is their best opportunity to receive a fair evaluation from a collection of coaches. It also presents the best opportunity for players to showcase their talents and interact with future teammates.
That said, we understand that school has concluded and your family may already have plans for these dates. Even if you can only attend a single night of tryouts, you are encouraged to do so.
If you have to miss both nights, you can contact email@example.com to coordinate another observation date. Advanced teams will train throughout the summer and will likely invite you to attend a practice with your team of interest.
do players need to attend both sessions?
Players are strongly encouraged to attend both tryout sessions. This will provide the best opportunity for players to demonstrate their abilities and for our coaches to provide a detailed and honest assessment. The two sessions will include different drills and game scenarios to benchmark a wide range of soccer skills and techniques.
It is also important to note that Wells Branch Soccer Association is trying out for your child and family just as much as they are trying out for us. Attending both sessions will give your child a better opportunity to see how they get along with potential teammates and coaches.
Why do we need to arrive early?
Players are encouraged to arrive as early as 30 minutes prior to the start of each session if possible. This will allow them plenty of time to get checked in and warm up. It should also help relieve any pressure or anxiety about the tryout process by allowing players to meet one another and form friendships. Arriving early also provides an opportunity for parents to meet the coaching staff for their respective age groups and ask any questions they may have.
What do players need to bring?
Players should arrive in proper soccer attire and will not be able to participate without shinguards. Returning WBSA players are encouraged to wear their blue practice uniform. Players should also bring a ball, plenty of water and a healthy snack for after the session.
when will roster decisions be made?
Coaches will be meeting briefly at the conclusion of each session to compare feedback. We ask parents to be patient and not solicit feedback immediately following sessions. Detailed feedback and final roster decisions will be made during an in-depth recap meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 8th. All families that attended tryouts will be contacted no later than Friday, June 10th.
When contacted, families will be provided feedback regarding the playing environment our coaches determined to be most appropriate for your child. We will walk your family through playing options, set proper expectations, and discuss next steps.
If your child is invited to join a select team, a roster spot will be reserved until Sunday, June 12th at midnight. We absolutely want families to make an informed decision and hope players are excited to be joining WBSA. As such, we are asking families to make a timely decision out of respect for the other players.
we've been selected and want to join, now what?
To reserve the spot your child has been offered, players must register by Sunday, June 12th. Unlike other clubs, our registration fees for select and academy teams is only $135 with no additional expenses.
That's right, there is no additional expenses for "commitment fees", uniforms, etc. We also offer flexible payment options that allow families to spread the $135 over several months. That means ~$30 is all you need to secure your spot and join the team's offseason sessions.
what skills will the coaches be observing?
Our coaches have put together 2 sessions, designed to assess players on the following competencies:
can we invite other players?
Absolutely! Anyone attending tryouts is encouraged to bring a friend. We also appreciated families, who know of other players interested in the most affordable competitive playing options in Central Texas, helping us spread the word. We are proud to have loyal families all across the North Austin, Pflugerville, and Round Rock areas.
WHO DO I CONTACT WITH ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS?
First and foremost, it’s about teaching the love of the sport not the love of winning. Sure, who doesn’t like to win, but what message do we send players if that’s the only time they’re praised for playing a sport, or conversely, we constantly tell them what they are doing wrong on the field?
As parents and coaches, we need to remember that kids play sports because it’s fun and the #1 reason they quit is because it’s no longer fun. The following is a good reminder from Proactive Coaching about the 12 simple rules of sport parents conduct that will help keep the experience fun for you, your player, the team and the coach. We’ve also shared a few ideas about what to do instead.
Rule #4 – Do not coach your child in games or training.
It’s confusing for the player to hear from both sides of the field during a game and often disrupts his/her focus. Instead watch what the players are learning in practice or ask the coach about what specific skills the team is focusing on and praise players for accomplishing these skills on the field. And of course if you want to help coach during training, be sure to ask your coach if he’d like help, he/she is likely to welcome the additional support.
Rule #7 – Avoid criticizing any player on the pitch or at training.
Positive reinforcement is a much greater motivator for anyone and teaching kids to embrace failure and risk taking is an important skill in athletes. Instead, praise players for what they do immediately after a mistake. Maybe he/she hustled back or didn’t give up. It’s important praise the reaction to failure, and create a safe to fail environment.
#9 – Do not force your child to participate in a sport.
It is certainly one thing to want your child to finish a commitment if he/she asked to play soccer and then mid-season decides it’s not the sport for him/her, but you don’t want to force the issue. If they aren’t interested in playing any longer let him/her watch and cheer teammates on from the sidelines. And if they aren’t interested in playing to begin with, give them time and accept their goals as you help them find their own passion for playing sports.
#12 Applaud the opposition as well as your own team.
As spectators you have a great influence over the enjoyment and success of any game and developing a love of the sport for your own children as well as others. Positive encouragement across both sides will have a lasting effect on helping instill a sense of achievement and self-esteem. As role models, it’s our job to help lift up every kid to feel he/she has done the best they could.
Cheering for both teams is also a great way to teach sportsmanship and reflects the club’s mission to create a safe, fun and competitive sports environment for everyone, which is a reputation we want to maintain at Wells Branch Soccer Association. Thanks for helping us set the standard for the North Austin, Pflugerville, and Round Rock areas.
With the introduction of the club's first Tryout and Observation Days for new advanced playing options, we were eager to study the landscape of soccer in Central Texas to see what families are traditionally paying for competitive soccer. Here is what we learned after researching neighboring clubs and compiling the data.
The Big Guys
Admittedly, there is good reason for the 3 most recognizable clubs in the area having the reputations they do. The largest 2 boast memberships in the thousands and all have strong track records of building quality players and teams thanks to sound technical programs led by credible directors of coaching. While it can be a bit frustrating to see players - developed under the guidance of our strongest WBSA coaches - get recruited to these clubs, the appeal is irrefutable.
Our research showed the average TOTAL price of these clubs to be $2,676 for one playing year (spring and fall season). This included registration fees, uniform kits (ordered separately) "commitment" fees, and volunteer buyouts that could be earned back. Not surprisingly, financial aid is available on a limited basis.
To contrast the big club model with what WBSA is now offering, we also did a comparison of organizations that are more aligned with regards to having a large recreational membership. One of the clubs chosen has a nearly identical membership population while the other is roughly 3x our size as of last season.
As you can see, the total annual costs were only about a quarter of the larger clubs, with an average of $705 across the 2 clubs. Uniform costs are typically substantially lower and the additional fees appear to be absent in these models.
Our board has decided to keep the Academy and Select fees consistent with our recreational prices for the upcoming fall and spring season. Combining a $135 registration fee in the fall with a discounted $110 rate in the spring (reduced for returning players not needing a new uniform), you arrive at a total annual cost of $245 for players on our advanced soccer teams.
As an entirely volunteer driven organization, we do not require buyout fees. Instead, we are moving to implement a "volunteer credit" that would put money back into the pockets of our families that volunteer (in the form of a team party / tournament fund). Further, our uniform expenses are rolled into the total price of registration and we are thrilled to be rolling out an awesome new Joma kit.
You can can play 2 full years of advanced soccer in WBSA for the price of just a single year within the clubs that are most like us.
You can play a staggering 11 YEARS ($2,646 divided by $245 = 10.9) for the price of a single year of training in one of the "Big 3" organizations offering services in our area.
To put that into perspective...assuming your child started playing competitive soccer at the earliest permissible age (U8 "playing up" in Academy), you would barely just be hitting the $2,646 mark by the time you paid their last WBSA registration fees (as a U18) before they left for college.
Every season we field tons of great questions regarding your child's age group. Likewise, we always get requests to explain the tables created by US Soccer and shared on our registration page. Here is an infographic we produced to provide some clarity.
It's often helpful to compare soccer to school. Since soccer is a 2 season sport, you can compare the Fall and Spring seasons to the Fall and Spring school semesters. Likewise, just as a student progresses to a new grade after each summer, a soccer player "ages up" to an older division after the summer. It's worth noting that ALL players make this transition together, at the same time.
In the example above, you see how a player born in 2006 will progress. Consider the following (which are common sources of confusion):
We hope this helps clarify how age groups are determined. Please let us know if you have questions by leaving a note in the comments section below.
As our members are hopefully already aware, US Soccer has started implementing Player Development Initiatives that will change the landscape of youth soccer starting with the Fall 2016 season. The spirit of these changes is to help coaches and families focus more on individual skill development less on the outcomes of games.
"Despite the increased popularity of soccer and the success of our national teams, the youth soccer landscape at the entry level needs to be improved. Our soccer culture at the youth level focuses on winning and results rather than focusing on developing the skills of individual players. The concept of a team outweighs the importance of players having fun and developing to the best of their abilities. As a country, we need coaches and parents to spend less time caring about wins and loses, and more time devoted to teaching individual skills. Part of this initiative is to educate and empower coaches and parents to change the way we look at the sport."
This post is intended to inform our membership about the 2 biggest changes that will go live at the start of the Fall 2016 season: Birth Year Registration and Small Sided Standards. While WBSA is supportive and excited about these changes, they are being driven by US Soccer and adopted by our governing bodies (such as CAYSA and STYSA) as requirements for continued participation from clubs such as ours.
WBSA has been planning for these changes over the past few seasons and is arguably better prepared than any surrounding club. That said, we do anticipate some disruption and potential discomfort for our members, which is why we are attempting to be as collaborative and transparent as possible.
As with every decision, the guiding focus will be on the well-being and safety of ALL our players. We would like to empower our families with the relevant information so they can help us make the best possible decisions regarding their children as they pertain to these changes.
Birth Year Registration
Before the Change
Age groups were determined by birthdays but were somewhat aligned with school grades. For example a child born after August 1st could be "held back" (or in this case "play down") with players in a later birth year.
After the Change
Age groups will be determined by a player's birth year. A child born after August 1st can no longer "play down" with players in a later birth year. All players born in a given year are in the same age group.
US Soccer Rationale
"Not only will this change align our players with the international standard, but it will allow us to be better informed to combat relative age effect when making teams for youth players."
Detailed Standards by Age Groups
As always, we will empower our membership to make the most informed decision for their respective children That said, we want our membership to be mindful of how their decisions will impact both their child, and all others in the club. When considering what age group is best for your child, please consider the following.
Potential Pros of "Aging Up" to Maintain Team:
Potential Cons of "Aging Up" to Maintain Team:
Questions to Consider:
Regarding health...would you push your kid to join an advanced swim team before they were ready? Larger kids, increased velocity of the soccer ball, and larger fields do present serious risks.
Regarding development...would you want a piano teacher skipping musical notes and scales in hopes that your kid can play Motzart? There is a lot to master (both individual and team concepts) before moving to an more advanced playing format in soccer.
All that said, if you child is "swimming every stroke" and "reading sheet music" at a level consistent with older players, following their peers and "aging up" would make sense. Especially given the social benefits and considerations mentioned above.
Small Sided Standards
Before the Change
Field sizes, game length, and even the game ball varied wildly from league to league across the US. Roster sizes were also inconsistent and too many clubs were placing players in the 11v11 format at a far too early age. Playing on larger fields and giving players substantially fewer touches is hindering long term development and engagement.
After the Change
Playing standards and a focus on small-sided games will create a better development environment (and more touches) for players. Fundamental principles will begin at the youngest ages and will be reinforced via an additive process as players progress from 3v3 to 4v4 to 7v7 to 9v9 and ultimately 11v11 soccer.
US Soccer Rationale
"We want to develop players with more: individual skill, intelligence, creativity and confidence. Players should be having fun, and feel free to make their own decisions. These standards were created based on the needs of the players and they also provide for a consistent approach across the country."
Detailed Standards by Age Group
Our club is proud to have already been operating in a manner that is aligned with the Small Sided initiatives. Our U4-U6 teams have always utilized a 3v3 format and older age groups were slowly building, holding off on 11v11 soccer until it was appropriate. Likewise, our field sizes are already near these recommendations and will be tweaked for next season (and at the new complex).
There will be minor changes to the number of field players at each age group (i.e. 7v7 as opposed to 6v6 at U9/U10 and 9v9 as opposed to 8v8 at U11/U12), which will also mean that maximum roster sizes will increase slightly at these age groups as well. Our leadership team is very excited about these changes, as they will lead to much better team fundamentals that are rooted in / build towards key principles in the 11v11 game. The 6v6 and 8v8 formats were more restrictive and less aligned in our opinion.
The only deviation from the table above that WBSA may choose to implement is keeping the 3v3 format for our U6 divisions. We will rely heavily on feedback from our coaches and families, but are considering that course of action for 2 main reasons. First and foremost, as a highly recreational club, we think more touches will greatly benefit our younger players and is more appropriate for our typical member at this age.
Secondly, the smaller team sizes will allow us to maintain a healthy U4-U6 division by ensuring strong team counts. Moving to the 4v4 format for U6 would seriously hinder our ability to offer a great development environment for our youngest players given the size of our club. However, we are confident that continued growth will allow us to implement a 4v4 U6 format eventually.
Finally, we are considering some evolutions to the U6-U9 divisions to create a better development environment for these players. We are exploring the best practices from US Soccer as well as our highly successful "Hybrid" models. These creative solutions for blending age groups has allowed us to introduce unprecedented parity amongst our teams (i.e. creating evenly matched games) and better group players with similar skill level.
Earning an introductory coaching license from US Soccer is now easier than ever. More importantly, heading into the season with confidence and a basic coaching philosophy is feasible with a commitment of just a few hours. The (entirely online) "F" license training is a a great resource for both brand new and the most experienced coaches in our club.
Here is a quick abstract from the US Soccer website:
The “F” license is a 2-hour course, conducted entirely online, intended for all parents and coaches of youth players. The focus of this grassroots course is to share U.S. Soccer’s best practices in creating a fun, activity-centered and age-appropriate environment for 5-8 year old players. The “F” license course is open to all applicants at least 16 years of age.
Top 5 Takeaways
Here are the top 5 things that our coaches will find most beneficial:
Digital Coaching Center
Coaches also gain access to a digital coaching center after earning their license, which happens immediately after completing the last webinar and accompanying assessment. The U6 and U8 practice scripts are arguably some of the best resources produced by US Soccer in recent memory. Each PDF has 6-8 weeks of exhaustive practice sessions that could literally get a new coach through an entire season.
Get Licensed (and Reimbursed)
Completing the training is incredibly easy thanks to 18 webinars. The modules include a refreshing mix of videos and actual training footage, so it's not your typical "death by PowerPoint". You can power through them in no time since each module is generally 5-10 minutes in length. A few are as short as 90 seconds, only 1 or 2 are longer than 15 minutes, and most run roughly 3-5 minutes. You'll take a quick 4-6 question, multiple-choice assessment following every webinar.
After that, you are officially licensed and can print the following certificate. If you send the WBSA treasurer the PDF file and digital receipt, we'll gladly reimburse the entire $25 expense.