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Key Criteria When Choosing a Soccer Club for your Child

The decision process for determining which soccer club is best for your child can be a complicated one. To that end EYSA has created the following checklist set of evaluation criteria for you to think through before making a final decision on a club and/or association.

Our parents know that when enthusiastic young players spend such significant amounts of time over the years learning and mastering the game with their coaches and teams, where they play and the quality of the club behind them really does matter...

Mission, Vision and Values

  • Does the club have a clear mission, vision and values?

  • Do you agree with the club's stated mission, vision and values?

  • Are the stated mission, vision and values put into practice? What do current players and families think? Have they seen them in action?


  • What sort of rules and guidelines are in place to govern the club?

  • Is the club or association responsible and professional? Are there clear bylaws and guidelines in place regarding fiscal responsibility, membership, scholarship awards, acceptance of gifts, … and general club administration?

  • Is the Club only accountable to a single individual (owner) or by an established set of principles, and governed and regulated by our State Youth Soccer Association?
  • Is the club a "true" not-for-profit organization? Are the Club's programs revenue neutral, or does every additional player represent additional income for the Club's ownership?

  • Are there checks and balances or oversight of the club to ensure professionalism in club management and principled development of players?


  • Does the club have sufficient resources to deliver on its mission?

  • Are the resources distributed equitably or are the lion's share of resources focused on the smallest percentage of top players?


  • Does the club require a national background check or Risk Management Assessment (RMA) before parents and coaches are allowed to spend time with your kids?

  • How complete is the club's insurance coverage for players and volunteers?

  • Does the club have a clearly written and applied concussion awareness and enforcement policy?

  • What is the club's general awareness and attention to health and safety? Do they have coach and player training to help avoid injuries, heart screening, nutrition education,...?

Player Development

  • Is the club focused on winning at all cost or on development and cultivation of a fun atmosphere for your child so that he/she will want to keep coming back for more?

  • Is there an overt emphasis on all types of development for your child --- skills, technique, psychology, fitness and tactics?

  • Has the club thought through and offered up a clear diagram to outline how your child might progress through the club and association from kindergarten through high school?

  • Is training age appropriate? Is the club trying to push your child into a program (and charge exorbitant fees) before they are physically and/or psychologically ready?

  • Does the club offer the right level of competition?

  • Does the club participate in leagues that ensure all teams have the opportunity for like-v-like competition?

  • Does the club offer a clear "feeder program" to help easily progress skilled and motivated players have visibility to and move on to other teams within the association "family" where they can play at a higher level?

  • At the more competitive levels:

    • Does the club offer access to the highest competitive soccer league in the state (RCL) and Western US (FWRL)?

    • Does the club provide access to the regional and national Olympic Development Program and state-level Elite Player Development?

    • Does the club or association have an active program to assist the top players with the process of finding great college programs and scholarships?

  • How does the club answer the following questions:

    • What is the correct age for a child to start training year-round with a Premier club?

    • Can my child play other sports while in this program?

  • Does the club focus on team training (ie... the players are clearly broken out into specific teams so that they can build friendships and receive more individualized coaching attention)? OR, does the club focus more exclusively on "Academy-style" training where multiple teams are mixed together? Will my child thrive in this environment?

  • Does the club clearly define its different programming levels (ie Rec, Select, and Premier) so that families can know what to expect when a child decides to play at a given programming level?

  • Does the club carefully evaluates the skill level of the player before they're allowed to play and to ensure that the family checkbook doesn't influence player selection? (i.e. pay to play)


  • How far will you need to travel to get to practices?

  • How far will you need to travel on average to get to your away games and tournaments?

Coaching Style and Training
  • Are the coaches consistent, professional and repectful? Will my kid get along with the coach and feel comfortable?

  • Do the coaches know how to adjust their communications and interactions with the players depending on the age and skill levels of the kids?

  • Is there a formalized annual player review process by coaches to ensure that players are clearly hearing what they need to do in order to keep growing as players?

  • Is there a formalized annual parent feedback process which allows parents to provide comments back to the club about individual coach behavior?

  • Can the club explain to you what and why they teach to the kids?

  • Does the club have a publicized approach for how they coach their coaches?

  • Select and Premier Coaches: What sort of requirements does the club impose on their coaches for licensing before they are allowed to coach, and how strictly are these requirements enforced?

  • All Coaches: What sort of continuing education clinics are offered by the club or association to hand-hold and teach the coaches? NOTE: This is especially important for the volunteer REC coaches.

  • Is the program affordable?

  • Does the club have pricing that makes its programs approachable for all socioeconomic levels in your area OR is it obviously catering only to high-net-worth families?

  • Does the club offer up an aggressive financial aid package to help out families who have difficulty footing the bill of even the affordable programs?