What is Recreational Soccer and Why it is Good for Kids
Recreational soccer primarily devotes itself to the enjoyment and development of soccer players
without the emphasis on high-level pressure to win. The purpose of recreational soccer is to
provide an opportunity for the participants to have fun, play with a sense of team and community,
learn the sport, and develop life skills including a life long love of the game.
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The Benefits of Recreation Soccer
o Recreational soccer provides a rich and enjoyable environment where children can be
introduced to the sport in a nurturing and supportive way that allows them to learn the
game, experience the game and grow to love the game.
o Low pressure, fun filled activities are essential to the development of basic skills and
tactical awareness and recreational provides just that model.
o Players get to play with the school and neighborhood friends
o Guaranteed 50% playing time
A starting place for all young players
o Recreational programming for the younger players is the very lifeblood of the sport. The
youngest players in soccer, all enter as recreational players.
o Young people who have constructive and useful activities are less likely to have social
o Young women who participate in sports and much less likely to have to face teenage
pregnancy or abuse.
o Initial development of the future elite players later down the road for those who choose
that level of play.
While recreational soccer serves the needs of the far majority, there are those who may wish to
explore a greater level of commitment. However, there are tradeoffs to moving your child from a
recreational team to a competitive team in the “Classic League”. The following are a few things
that every family should think about before making this move.
Cautions for Moving Your Child to a Competitive Team
A select number of players may stand out during the course of a recreational soccer season, and
their parents may consider moving their child to a competitive team. This is where the dilemma
begins. As a parent it is normal to feel pride when your child may perform at a level above their
teammates, but is it enough talent to compete at the competitive team level? And, if the answer
is “yes,” will your child thrive in that environment?
Here are some pros and cons of joining a competitive team. This is not an all-inclusive list;
however, these are all important points to weigh when considering the move to a competitive
Playing time and starting
One of the potential downsides of joining a competitive team can be that your child experiences
less playing time than on their recreational team, where they may have been a team leader in
many areas. It is the old adage of going from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish
in a big pond. This experience may potentially deter children from continuing the following
season if the experience is perceived as negative.
Additional playing requirements
Competitive teams require a much greater commitment by players and their parents. There will
be both home and away games which can sometimes result in driving an hour each way for a
hour long game (and don’t forget about getting there 30 minutes early for warm-ups). An away
soccer game in the competitive league could take 4-5 hours out of your day, and there are also
typically all-day tournaments in your future towards the end of the season.
In almost all cases, competitive team soccer has significantly higher associated costs than
recreational soccer. These fees include uniform costs, tournament fees, indoor training during
the offseason, seasonal registration, etc., and can quickly become a large financial investment,
depending on the club.
Those are just a few factors to consider before encouraging your child to take the step towards
competitive play. On the plus side, if your child is truly passionate about soccer and eats, sleeps,
and breathes the game, then there are benefits to moving up to a competitive league.
Benefits for Moving Your Child to a Competitive Team
The coaches in competitive soccer generally speaking typically have gone through coaching
education programs at a high level and may give your child an opportunity to learn the game in
ways they may not experience through recreational soccer.
Level of competition
If your child is the best, not just on their team but also in an age group, competitive soccer may
be an environment for your child. In competitive soccer they can give their all, matching skills and
wit, amongst the best players in the area.
Commitment and discipline
Playing for a competitive team requires more discipline than recreational teams. Once a child
moves up to competitive soccer, it requires much more work outside of the normal practices and
games to allow their skill level to increase and improve. There is great value for kids to learn that
hard work, commitment, and discipline are required to excel in anything they do and this
discipline can help them both on and off the field in all areas of their lives.
There are pros and cons to anything and advancing to competitive soccer is no different. The
most important thing is to use your knowledge of your child (no one knows your child like you do)
and determine if this will really benefit them. If you believe that they have gotten all they can out
of recreational soccer, still never tire of practice or games and exceed most of their teammates
and competitors’ talent levels, then it may be time to move to the next level. Whereas if you child
wants to play competitive soccer so that they can continue playing with their more talented
friends, then a move to competitive soccer will most likely not be in the best interest of your child.
If you are still on the fence, take your time to make the right decision for you and your child.
Remember, despite what many people say, there’s always next year. If your child is truly
destined to play at the more competitive levels, their spot will be there for them when they are
ready. Keeping that in mind, it is better to let your child enjoy the game and develop at their own