The question comes up frequently, What is travel soccer? At first glance the meaning of travel soccer is simply that your child is in a soccer league that travels to other towns or states.
However, you should understand that there's a lot more to it than just how far you drive to get your child to the game. There are additionally several things than come along with participating in a travel league for soccer. First look at these 10 descriptions taken directly from youth soccer league websites in a variety of states, all over the country.
If you take just a few seconds to read the descriptions of travel soccer below, you'll see it a totally different level of competitiveness and commitment by players, parents, and coaches.
Clearly, the term travel soccer is interpreted as a level above rec (recreational) soccer, but there are no specific rules or universal guidelines that define exactly what constitutes travel soccer.
Not all travel soccer is super competitive. It really varies by location. This was the situation for my kids when they played "travel soccer" in southern New Jersey. Many soccer "clubs" are really just made up of residents who lived in a town.
In my own small town of about 9,000 people all the kids over the age of 7 travel to other towns for their youth soccer matches. My area in South Jersey is full of similar small towns that have their own soccer organization. Most of them offer the recreational style of kids soccer for only the youngest age groups.
Kids over 7 years old travel for their soccer games because there aren't enough kids in each town to have an in-house recreational league in the older age groups.
When to start travel soccer depends on several factors. It's not just about the ability and soccer machurity of your child. It's also about the added time commitment (and sometimes money) that comes along when you sign your kid up in a soccer league that travels.
Most travel teams start with 9 year olds, but some leagues provide an opportunity for 7 years olds to play travel soccer.
Both travel soccer and recreational soccer give benefits to children. Participation in youth soccer builds a foundation for success in many aspects of our kids' futures.
A more appropriate way to describe this higher level of soccer is to call it "Competitive Soccer." Competitive soccer is known as club soccer in some states and know as travel soccer in others. These more competitive teams are for kids to aspire to play for an extended number of years, perhaps at the college and above levels.
Yes, most definitely if you and your child know what's involved. Soccer is the number 1 sport in the world for a reason. Just do your due diligence and find out the competitive level of the travel soccer league you're researching. Talk to a few parents who have kids participate in the travel league already. There you'll get a realistic idea of the time and money involved.
The most important thing is to find out if your child really wants to play soccer in a league where the intensity is a bit higher than the average "in-house" recreational soccer league. Some kids naturally gravitate toward enjoy a highly competitive environment. Other kids really just enjoy the social aspect and are more interested in just having a good time playing.
Not surprisingly, it can vary quite a bit. Travel soccer leagues that use high level coaches and that participate in a lot of tournaments will cost quite a bit more more than the basic small town type of travel league. Again, it varies by area of the country as well as the age of the players and the level of play.
I've seen registrations as low as $170 an as high as $900 for a season of travel soccer. You also may have uniform costs. A big part of the expense with youth travel soccer can be your accommodations if you're traveling a significant distance from home and staying in a hotel.
We all want what's best for our kids, no doubt, and we can too easily assume that means playing competitive soccer for a travel team. A true barometer of their passion to play the sport is to watch the expressions they make with their faces and their body language.
If you see passion, excitement, and self-directed effort at a high level of effort, your child will likely love to participate in travel soccer.
Keep it safe. Keep it fun!
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