All too often I see the misunderstanding from all involved within youth soccer that money is somehow linked to development. This happens in a couple different ways, although the most popular ones are:
1) The more expensive a club costs the better its training must be, and
2) If I spend thousands of dollars a year on soccer, I expect my child to develop according to the amount of money spent. I am buying my child “Superstar Development!”
Let’s look at the first issue and then tackle the second. Remember, the more you know, the more you educate, the better we will be equipped to combating some of these ideas and making this a better environment for all.
“The more expensive a club costs, the better it must be.” Youth sports, and youth soccer especially, in the United States is a business to the tune of over 5 billion dollars annually. It’s important to understand that in any multi-billion dollar industry, there are people who know how to make a profit, regardless of the quality of their product.The pay to play model is also one in which tens of thousands of children are being priced out of simply because costs are skyrocketing for supposed “top development.”
Contrast that with some other clubs I went to watch during the tryout period a month ago. I visited one U16 tryout in the town I live in. For the hour and a half I was there, the 37 boys ended up playing 12v12 full field with 13 resting. The two coaches evaluating? One was on his phone for almost an hour and the other had his back, I kid you not, to the players for the majority of the tryout, speaking with some parents and some administrators. This club, however, is much more expensive than $500 a season, so therefore they must know what they’re doing.
Too often we fall into the trap of assuming that a higher cost equals a better product. One of my favorite stories to tell people revolves around Grey Goose Vodka. When you hear Grey Goose what do you think? Classy? Elegant? High-End? The Best?
When Grey Goose was emerging on the market, the most important thing that the company did was evaluate the pricing of vodka at that time and tack on an extra $10 to the average price to create the cost of Grey Goose. Suddenly, with fantastic luxurious marketing, Grey Goose was hitting stores and for the customer. For many, it was simple to understand that this expensive $35 Grey Goose must be of a higher quality than the one next to it for $25. We have this assumption that price reflects quality in all avenues of life when really, price reflects our need to THINK that we are splurging on something special, on something luxurious.
In many areas, clubs will raise their prices arbitrarily or set them at an arbitrarily high amount and the unsuspecting parent does what they normally do which is compare prices and thus believe that this reflects quality. Money does not buy development, and an expensive club does not necessarily deliver development, but they may deliver a nice looking warmup jacket!
Please understand, there are some clubs that are fantastic and do charge a high price. This in turn allows them to bring in the best coaches and continually offer resources to their players and staff to develop players to the best of their ability. It is of the utmost importance, however, to understand that price does not always equate to quality. Do your homework, look into the coaches, what the club is doing, what their philosophy on development is. Most of all, don’t make the mistake of assuming that a club that is cheaper is somehow lesser. I am glad I get to serve families of all different walks of life, and I am proud that our club is making strides to ensure that players are not left by the wayside in an environment where many clubs are pricing kids out of the game
So, you’ve read through the first point, you’ve cast a discerning eye on your club selection, and now you are ready to pay!
The second problem that arises is assuming that your money guarantees your child’s development. We live in a culture where some people will spend $25,000, $35,000 or more in the hopes that their child gets a partial scholarship to play in college or beyond. At its very foundation, however, we forget that money spent on training is an investment.
When you pay, let’s say $1500 each season (which is cheap in many areas), this affords you training twice or three times a week and games on the weekend. You are investing in your child’s development by placing them in the best possible environment to learn, grow, and improve. What we often fail to realize, however, is that 3 hours of practice a week and orange slices on the weekend are not enough to create a good, let alone great, soccer player.
When you pay money for soccer training, that is a foot in the door into an organization. Because of the money you spend, you are going to receive SOME training from the organization on a regular basis, games (and thus exposure) on a regular basis, and some other benefits including learning concepts that must be developed with a team rather than individually.
But this is not enough. Your money does not buy development. How often do we see players who are juggling three different sports per season. You may have spent $1500 for soccer but if you made it to half of all the practices and one third of the games, your child’s development will be stunted. The process of making someone good at anything is very simple. It requires practice and dedication. Great players have a ball at their feet 24/7. Great players are playing in their backyards the minute they get home from school, or the park with their friends all weekend. You can help your child improve by investing your TIME, not just your money, by bringing them to the park each day, or spending some time with them in the backyard as you motivate them to keep practicing.
A ball against a wall may be the greatest, cheapest, and simplest development tools out there, but too often we shun it because it doesn’t come with fancy packaging and a price of $49.99.
Five hours of soccer a week will not get you past the average mark.
Do you want your child to improve? Do you want them to go from an average to a good player, or from good to great?
I’ll tell you how. Dedication, hard work, passion, a commitment to always improving, and a lot of time spent practicing!
It’s the simplest tip in the world, but then again, it doesn’t come with a $49.99 price tag.
Continue the Discussion!
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