AYSO vs Club Soccer

I am going to compose this the best that I can from a very neutral point of view. There is an assumption that just because parents are paying inflated, higher cost training for a sports program that they are getting better, higher quality training for their kid. Not true!

I have been a youth soccer referee since 2001 and the playing field for AYSO vs club programs such as CalSouth is just as level when it comes to AYSO Extra or Select. Yes, it’s a little more cut-throat but the players are not better. Maybe some of the coaches are a little more passionate but the referees are certainly not better nor make more calls.

There is one difference in the program comparison that is club has all paid personnel. That means everyone is out there for the money and not just for the children or their development. No matter who your child is or what program they are in they will never get better or excel at their soccer skills if they only rely on their two, two-hour practices a week. Father of soccer great, Christian Mate Pulisic once said in an interview that Christian played AYSO and was in two practices a week but spent the remainder of his time training mostly alone in the backyard. Sometimes just kicking a ball over and over against the wall.

I have seen many players that couldn’t even dribble, pass or score goals on their teams properly leave AYSO for the promise of college scholarships that had no business being on a club soccer team only to have their playtime cut. What good is that for a parent or their kid? The odds of a really great player making a college soccer team on scholarship are 14:1 or a mere 7% in ANY college.

Many of these parents shelled-out up to $7000 a year for tournament, travel, and hotels to have nothing less than a dismal season. It’s absolutely insane. I heard a club soccer coach that came over to do some training for an AYSO Extra team exclaim once, “I only train for money, if you want to see me again you will need to pay me next time.” This coach spent more than 60% of the training time on conditioning. Something any volunteer coach could easily do without having to pay for it. Granted, having a decent coach is a key to an awesome experience for any child, especially if they have a losing season but there are numerous fathers that used to play AYSO, high school, and college that make much better coaches than many of these club coaches because they actually care about their players.

I keep faith in the AYSO program because parents seem to always know what is best for their kids. As we know by experience, too much of one thing is ridiculously dangerous. The commitment level of club soccer is too much to ask of a 9 or 10-year-old and makes no sense. I prefer to let my kids just be kids and if they are a stellar athlete, then so be it. Some parents haven’t figured out that greatness is sometimes born and not created.