Patch Blog: AYSO or Club Soccer?

AYSO or Club Soccer?

I’ve watched a lot of kids play recreational sports, and I’ve coached in several local leagues the past 15 years: YMCA basketball, Santa Anita Little League and AYSO Region 2. As a family, we have also been fortunate to see our two oldest sons play varsity sports at , so you can say we are a seasoned youth sports family — a.k.a. old!!!

To be quite honest, as a native Californian, I never really expected my oldest son to stay in soccer. At the time, we thought, "He’ll play a couple of years and then he’ll move on to the real sports."

Fast forward 15 years later and we have never left AYSO Region 2 soccer!

The reason I’m writing this article is to give my personal perspective on AYSO versus club soccer. I believe club soccer is without question a good option, but can also be a bad option. Like most things in life, there are pros and cons.

If your goal is to have your child play college soccer, then club soccer is an absolute must. Every year at Arcadia High and Monrovia High, we have seen several kids fortunate enough to move on and play at the college level.

The key question is, “When do I transition to club?”

I see too many kids go club too early and parents get caught up in the hype that “my kid is a club player." Truth be told, there’s a lot of kids in club soccer that are no better than our AYSO Regional All-Star players.

If you’re going to choose club soccer, do your homework. As I mentioned, some club teams are equivalent to AYSO teams, only you’re paying a lot more money. Is the club team bronze, silver, silver elite, gold, etc? Also, interview the club coach and trainers — there are too many stories of emotional and verbal abuse that takes all the fun out of the game.

The very earliest I would recommend a player going club is U12, while U14 is the best. Why do clubs recruit U8-U10 AYSO players? Answer: Club soccer is a BUSINESS and they want your MONEY. It’s been interesting to see the many kids who go club and a year later return to AYSO.

Last, I have seen a lot of very gifted kids suffer burn out before they even reach high school. Playing year round sports year after year takes an emotional toll on kids. I personally enjoy a season of no sports, so we can go to the beach or sleep in on a weekend. My oldest son, his eighth-grade year played fall AYSO, winter All-Stars, spring soccer, then summer tournaments. His freshman year at Arcadia High, he told us that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to try out for the soccer team!

For $150 bucks versus $2,000, AYSO Region 2 has a pretty good soccer program. I’ll be the first to tell you that we’re not always as good as club teams. However, both of my older sons played Varsity soccer at Arcadia High School WITHOUT club soccer, and for that, I’m grateful to AYSO Region 2.

AYSO Fall Registration is April 21 and May 5 at in Arcadia. Check ayso2.org for details.

We have 2,000 kids in our fall program, rated a Platinum Region and operate one of the best youth soccer leagues in Southern California. As an all-volunteer league, AYSO Region 2 is all about the kids!

Reach Ken Joe at commissioner@ayso2.org.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paul April 02, 2012 at 09:23 PM
I agree with this article. Kids do much better when they are having fun. But, sometimes some kids are only having fun to the detriment of the team. This is why I think that AYSO offers the best balance.
Tony MacIsaac April 02, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Mr. Joe wrote a very balanced article at a very interesting time for youth sports - club soccer teams regard AYSO as a "feeder" for them, and of late, the local clubs seem to be on a feeding frenzy. Parents are reporting being lured by club employees with temporary fee concessions for AYSO players to try to get their club numbers up, all while playing up the elitism of their culture (club is better- its for the better players, etc.). Yes, they play to parents' egos and kids' need "to belong" to an exclusive group, but note the irony here - the local club teams engage in this elitism while feeding off the recruitment efforts of AYSO which is in some ways the antithesis of club teams. AYSO is an all-volunteer organization (including coaches and referees) that is run on Six Philosophies (which they enforce): "Everyone Plays", "Balanced Teams", and "Open Registration", as well as "Good Sportsmanship", "Positive Coaching" and "Player Development". "Everyone Plays" means every player on every team plays at least 50% of every game. Just Google "AYSO" and you can read all about it. "Everyone Plays" is not only good for the player, it makes for a stronger, more effective team. Weaker players get to play more, become more developed because of increased play, and therefore help their team to be stronger. Contrast that to club. And there has never been any question of which systems get's the family (particularly the kids) more "bang for the buck".
Natalie Ragus (Editor) April 03, 2012 at 03:56 AM
I loved AYSO. It's a great program! Not everyone is meant to be the next David Beckham, but AYSO teaches kids sportsmanship. Also, soccer is great exercise and something that can be enjoyed as an adult in a non-competitive league.
sonya keith September 15, 2012 at 10:44 PM
I love it, but i don't understand when this commisioner is at a game and refusing to call the game in 114 degree heat, 110 in the shade, like he did today at Foothills middle school
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Ken Joe January 29, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Hi Sonya, AYSO Region 2 has a heat policy which can be found on our ayso2.org website. The heat for this day was actually at or below 104 degrees. The game was safely played with shortened quarters and extended water breaks without any incident.
Mike May 03, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Let's not leave out the politics that exist within AYSO. Some children don't have a chance in making All Stars or Tournament regardless of their skills if you don't know the right people. I've seen this many times and hear it directly from coaches. It is not all that fair and balanced as you are led to believe.


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