If you or your child are looking for a new soccer club to join, especially for the first time, it can be difficult to know what to look for. As a parent, your priority might be finding something close to home, or within the budget, but there are other aspects of a club you want to look for before joining. Here are a few of the factors you want to keep an eye on as you look.

  1. Club Philosophy

Whatever club you join should have a website you can look at with a clear mission or philosophy statement that’s easy to find. The club mission statement can give you important information about the ethics and standards of the club and might give you an idea of how competitive the team is. If you’re looking for a sense of community and just want to be a part of a team, you may want to avoid aggressively competitive clubs that are all about winning. On the other hand, you don’t want an easy-going club if being competitive is important to you. 

  1. The Coach 

Even if the club is full of amazing teammates and has the best facilities in the world, a bad coach can make the experience unpleasant for everyone. Particularly if you’re finding a club for your child, finding a good coach is essential, as the coach will have a direct influence on the players. Ensure that the coach has not only achieved the proper licensing to coach soccer but that they’re also actively pursuing higher levels of education and certification. They may work for the IT department during the day, but they should commit to doing the work if they want to be a good coach. 

Not many parents know that some coaches may not have expertise in training goalkeepers, and if your child is a goalkeeper it’s important to make sure their coach has had that training.  An overly pushy and demanding coach can cause players to play with injuries, or shame them for failures on the field, so properly vet coaches before settling on a club. 

  1. Financial Commitment 

Joining sports clubs can be ridiculously expensive. Everything from equipment to travel costs money, not to mention membership fees, and in private cubs the members are expected to foot the bill. Playing competitively can run you thousands of dollars, while a recreational team can cost next to nothing. It’s important to know whether competing is important to you and how much you can spend if that’s something you want. Whatever you decide, make sure you’re asking lots of questions about costs as you vet the club to ensure you’re being given the bottom line. Some clubs will give you the costs upfront, while others will calculate their budget as they go, and sometimes you can be hit with unexpected costs. 

  1. Time Commitment 

It’s also important to realize that being a part of a team means committing to a certain amount of time in practices, games, and travel. You may want a club that only plays during one season per year, or you may want one that switches to indoor practice during the off-season. Make sure you know before joining how many tournaments you’ll be expected to attend and where they are. Will you have to stay in hotels or take a plane to a tournament? Most clubs will expect teammates or parents to participate in fundraising events, so make sure you’re prepared to participate in them if so. 

  1. Team Size

Lastly, you should consider how big a team you’d like to be a part of, and how prestigious a club you want to join. A large club usually comes with more benefits like broad leadership and extra services, but may not have the tight-knit community or focused leadership the way a smaller team can. A smaller club can give you a more personalized experience and may end up honing your skills more. 

Whatever your preferences are, joining a club gives you an exciting opportunity to be a part of a team and learn new skills. Use these tips to find the right club for you and start playing right away.