The FA had launched a free online Respect Parent Guide to
highlight examples of poor behaviors and, more importantly,
how it can be improved. To see the Guide for Parents
your child is considering trying out for a Spirit United Soccer Club (SUSC) travel
team, or is already on a SUSC travel squad, we are confident that you will be
very pleased with the SUSC travel experience. SUSC seeks to sponsor two or more
travel teams in each age and gender bracket. The first teams to be formed in each
bracket, and sometimes other travel teams in the bracket, are frequently highly
advanced teams that compete for state and regional championships and for other
honors. Although SUSC travel teams are independent and, therefore, have different
personalities and goals, all SUSC travel teams share "a commitment to excellence
in the game of soccer" and several key characteristics:
(1) an emphasis
on player development,
(2) excellent coaching,
(3) access to excellent
(4) exceptional support and
(5) exhibit good sportsmanship
and appreciation for "the laws of the game."
SUSC travel teams
play in fall travel leagues: the
Soccer League (boys) and
(Philadelphia Area Girls Soccer) league (girls). Teams are assigned to particular
divisions based upon their level of play. Teams can get placed in a higher or
lower division at the end of each season, based upon their won/loss record. For
this reason and others, travel play inevitably becomes quite competitive.
objectives of Sprit United Travel Soccer are to:
1) maintain a positive,
but challenging, environment that allows players to develop their soccer potential
physically, physiologically, technically and tactically;
2) field teams that
play quality soccer at a level of competition commensurate with their talent;
3) provide the opportunity for the most talented and dedicated players in
the area to play together and allow teams to play at the highest level of competition
4) promote fairness, equity and good sportsmanship in pursuing
the above objectives.
All SUSC travel teams are competitive and, therefore,
making the roster, and staying on the roster, has to be earned on the basis of
each team member's play and annual tryouts. Parents should keep the following
factors in mind when considering whether trying out for or participating on a
SUSC travel team is right for your child and your family.
Travel Program often involves a full year commitment.
SUSC travel team
play not only requires that your son or daughter be able to play at a high level
relative to the rest of their age group, but also involves a substantial commitment
of time and energy from both players and their families.
travel teams play approximately 15-20 games per season between fall league play
and spring leagues. In addition, there is tournament play.
travel teams operate a 9-11 month per year program, including outdoor league play
in the fall and spring, indoor play in the winter and camp and tournament play
at various times throughout the summer. (High school age travel teams sometimes
do not play in the fall when their high school squads are competing.)
Each team seeks to provide training and competition at the highest level attainable
for its level of skill and dedication.
Most SUSC travel teams train
twice a week in the summer and fall and occasionally three times per week.
Most SUSC travel games are on weekends, either a Saturday or Sunday in
Locations for league games are generally within the Chester,
Delaware and Montgomery Counties area, but can include other locations in eastern
Pennsylvania, as well as locations in Delaware and Maryland.
travel teams play three or more tournaments per season. Most SUSC travel teams
will participate in at least one out of town tournament per season.
Most SUSC travel teams at U-12 and older compete in State Cup events.
While most SUSC travel teams, particularly younger teams, encourage their players
to participate in other sports, travel teams also expect that team members will
give preference to fall travel team games over conflicts with other sports.
SUSC travel team participation can be expensiveleague and club fees,
uniforms and other gear, and travel and lodging costs for out of town tournaments
can range from $200.00 per season to well over $500.00 per family, per season.
For older teams, with paid trainers and/or coaches, the costs can be considerably
higher. SUSC makes every effort; however, to assure that all Spirit United children
who are accepted onto a travel squad are able to participate without regard to
financial considerations. If your son or daughter's participation is jeopardized
because of financial considerations, talk to your coach or team manager or talk
directly to the Travel Commissioner.
New Team Formation
teams have the same fundamental mission for their playersto create a meaningful,
positive experience; to develop soccer skills, and to teach the lessons associated
with team play.
Applications to coach new travel teams must be submitted
to a Director of Travel. These applications are encouraged throughout the year.
The Director will review coaching credentials and, where appropriate, form a committee
(consisting of the other Director of Travel and other SUSC Board members) to make
recommendations to the Board.
The Directors of the Travel Program coordinate
the new team formation process, including directing the coach reviews process
and conveying the recommendation of the Directors and/or the Evaluation Committee
(when formed) to the Board.
Each spring, SUSC holds tryouts for each of
it travel teams for play the following fall (beginning around September 1).
What Parents Can Expect From Travel Coaches
SUSC's travel team
coaches are expected to meet high standards for technical competence, knowledge
of soccer rules and tactics, ability to work effectively and positively with travel
team players, and consistently demonstrate the ability to interact effectively
and positively with travel team parents, other coaches, referees and club and
league administrators. Travel team coaches are responsible for the selection of
travel team members, for team training and development, for all on-field decisions,
and for the overall conduct of the team on and off the soccer field. The travel
team coach, supported by the Team Manager, is the official representative of SUSC
in dealing with players, parents, league officials and the public. SUSC is very
proud of its travel team coaches. The Directors of the Travel Program select all
travel team coaches after a careful examination of the coach's credentials.
a travel team is a gratifying and wonderful, but also a demanding experience and,
at times, terribly frustrating experience. A successful travel soccer coach must
be: an effective trainer and teacher of fundamental soccer skills; an effective
soccer tactician; able to motivate and relate to young people; an effective communicator
with parents, referees, league officials and SUSC officials; and a good organizer.
The coach has the responsibility of balancing the needs of the team with individual
player's needs and the need for success on the field with the greater need to
Experienced travel coaches try to make sure that
their players are having fun. Even older travel team players want to have fun
at practices, games and other team events. If players are not having fun, the
chances are good that they won't be players for very long.
A travel team coach must also make numerous potentially unpopular
decisions, including playing team members in positions which they, or their parents,
do not enjoy or adjusting playing times in ways that frequently do not provide
for equal playing time
From time to time, coaches may have to drop a player
(although, as a practical matter, this is almost always confined to the spring
as the roster is prepared for the upcoming season.) There are lots of reasons
why it becomes necessary to cut a player and the discretion belongs entirely to
the coach. Experienced travel coaches know, however, that cutting a young person
can be one of the most difficult things a young person has to deal with. Not surprisingly,
parents can become very emotionally involved. The coach should try to give the
child (and if a younger child, the parents) lots of notice that the child is at
risk of not making next year's squad. At the same time, the coach should identify
those aspects of the player's game which need to be improved in order for the
child to stay on the squad. When faced with a cut, the coach will often try to
talk the parents into moving the child to another team. Experience shows that
if the parents and child opt to move the player from the team, the emotional hurt
and impact is minimized. Also, most coaches believe that it is their responsibility
to work with the player and the parents to try to find the player another, more
Experienced travel coaches try to keep their rosters small,
especially when coaching younger aged teams. The players are training hard and
want to play. Their parents certainly want them to play. If a team is carrying
17 or 18 players on its roster (or 12 to 14 on a small-sided roster), there is
simply no way that the team will be able to provide adequate playing time for
every player. Smaller rosters assume that all players will be at the practices,
matches and especially tournaments.
Experienced travel coaches know that
it is important to try to stay calm and mostly quiet during games (of course,
some directing and encouraging is always appropriate, especially with younger
aged teams). If the coach is always yelling instructions at the players they will
be: less apt to learn to make their own decisions, less likely to learn to talk
to one another on the field, and less likely to play with confidence.
travel coaches know that it is important, especially at the younger ages, for
players to be able to shrug off a loss. If players take emotional baggage away
from a loss because the coach has reacted badly to the loss, they are more likely
to play poorly in future games and, more importantly, experience a good deal of
stress and worry.
Coaches and Parents
Experienced travel coaches
know that when dealing with parents, it is important to remember that their principal
concern is for their son or daughter, rather than team considerations. While the
travel team exists as a vehicle for the development of its players, one of the
lessons that should be learned from team sports, like soccer, is that all members
of the team are important. With younger teams, parents and players sometimes have
"star" expectations from their developmental/recreation soccer experience
that cannot be met. This can be a source of conflict. The Director of the Travel
Program represents SUSC in handling disputes of this type, as well as all other
disputes involving travel teams.
At SUSC, our most desired option is for
each team to have an experienced, qualified coach. However, from time to time,
the Club does utilize qualified parent coaches who have experience and expertise
in the game. Many parent coaches "retire" and turn over the coaching
reins to a professional/paid coach at the U-13 or U-14 level. It is about this
time that many players can actually play at a higher level than many parent coaches.
In the eyes of these coaches, it seems inconsistent to try to provide training
to someone who can play better than they can play. There is not necessarily anything
wrong with a parent coach retiring after two or three years. On the other hand,
some parent coaches retire prematurely. No one expects Bruce Arena to be able
to play at the level of his professional players, yet he is undeniably an effective
coach. Particularly when aided by professional trainers and/or experienced coaches,
many parent coaches with expertise and experience in the game can continue to
be effective coaches all the way through high school. Experienced coaches assess
their performance after each season and, if appropriate, may decide to use trainers
to supplement the program.
Most trainers are "known quantities"
who have trained other club teams, ODP, local high schools, etc. Check their credentials
and reputation with the Director of Travel and other soccer coaches and administrators.
Many trainers are also coaches and/or have special relationships with
particular clubs or coaching organizations. Some are over committed. You may or
may not like the baggage which they carry.
Trainers, like coaches,
have areas of strength and experience. Some trainers are better with younger teams;
some trainers have more experience and a better record with a particular gender;
and some trainers are strong teachers of particular skill sets (such as fast footwork)
but weaker in teaching other skill sets.
The fees which trainers charge
vary widely and, therefore, it is a good idea to check out the market before agreeing
on a particular fee schedule.
If your team uses a trainer, make clear
what the trainer's role and responsibilities are. The trainer is an assistant
to the coach, who should continue to make decisions as to what skills are worked
on in practice; how the practice is run; how the games are run; and, perhaps most
important, what are the team's priorities and tone and tenor.
EXPERIENCED TRAVEL SOCCER PARENTS APPRECIATE AND UNDERSTAND
THE FOLLOWING DO'S AND DON'TS:
Do attend games and cheer for the
team, not only your child. This helps reinforce the team values soccer teaches.
If all parents on a team become "fans" of their player's teammates,
this strongly contributes to a positive environment.
in the operation of the team. In a very real sense, it's not just SUSC's team,
or the coach's team, or even your son or daughter's teamit's your team,
too. There are lots of critical parent jobs, including Team Manager; Team Treasurer;
Travel Coordinator for out-of-town tournaments; and Fundraising Coordinator.
Do expect the travel coach to recognize that your son or daughter is responsible
for his/her participation on the team. The travel coach will communicate areas
needing improvement first with your son or daughter.
Do make your
player available on time (including the designated warm-up period) for all regular
season practices, games, scheduled tournaments and scrimmages. If at all possible,
don't schedule family vacations or trips that conflict with your child's team
responsibilities. If there is a problem in this regard, be sure to talk with the
travel coach in advance.
Do expect that the travel coach will be honest
and candid with you about your child's status and, on older teams, that the travel
coach will provide your child with periodic verbal evaluations of their play and
an identification of areas that need improvement.
Do expect openness
and honesty from the travel coach. Do expect to get advance notice from the travel
coach if your child is at risk of being dropped from the team and an opportunity
to work on areas that need improvement.
Do expect, particularly on
younger teams, that the travel coach will be receptive to your child's participation
in other sports -- but do not expect that the travel coach will acquiesce if your
child misses practices, games or tournaments because your child is participating
in another sport.
On older teams, do expect the travel coach to facilitate
your child's participation on high school soccer squads and on ODP squads.
For high school age teams, do expect the team coach to help your child
with college admissions, including the preparation of letters of recommendation.
Do expect competence in teaching fundamental soccer skills.
Do expect fair treatment of players and parents by the travel coach and never
tolerate any type of abusive behavior, physical or otherwise, by a SUSC travel
coach. Discuss such behavior with the travel coach and contact the SUSC Director
Do expect the travel coach to make player safety a priority
and to insist that your child not play if the child has not warmed up and stretched,
or is injured or sick.
Do expect that the travel coach will enjoy
working with young people; create a fun environment for the players; and be enthusiastic
about the squad.
ON THE OTHER HAND, AS A TRAVEL SOCCER PARENT:
Do not expect that your child will necessarily have equal playing time.
It is, however, highly unusual for a healthy player to receive no playing time
or very minimal playing time. If this happens, talk to the travel coach.
Do not expect the coach to honor requests for playing time in a particular
Do not expect your child to be guaranteed a permanent position
on a travel team. Players must make the squad each spring and, in exceptional
circumstances (set out in the league rules in which the team plays), a child may
also be cut between the fall and spring seasons.
Do not position players
or yell out coaching-type instructions from the sidelines. During practice and
matches the coach(es)/trainer(s) are there to give direction. Parental input is
not appropriate, helpful to the player or appreciated by coaches. ·
Do not yell at referees. You will be expelled from the sidelines and the
travel coach will receive a yellow or red card if your behavior is sufficiently
Do not argue or fight with parents from opposing teams;
remember your are a role model for your child and other team members.
Do not talk to the coach about player issues during or immediately after a game
or practice. At SUSC we like to follow a "48 hour rule." That is, wait
48 hours before discussing the issue with the coach. This provides time to evaluate
Do not make negative comments about other children
on the team.
Do not permit your child to try out for other soccer
teams without letting the coach know that you are considering moving your child.
Trying out for other teams is often part of the "travel soccer process."
As such, this should not be a consideration on the part of the travel team of
whether your child remains on or is selected for the team.
wait until just before the start of a season to move your child to a new team.
If you are going to move your child, notify the coach in June or December. It
is very frustrating to a coach, and unfair to other team members, when a player
leaves the team without giving sufficient notice to permit the team to accept
or recruit a replacement.
A Word About Winning.
do not judge our travel team coaches by their won/loss record. SUSC travel teams
participate in extraordinarily competitive leagues. Moreover, the level of playing
talent among SUSC travel teams varies substantially. A team may win frequently
one season and lose frequently the very next season after promotion to a higher
division. Does this mean that the coach was a success one season and a failure
the next? Of course not. Teams and travel team coaches that provide their players
with opportunities for fun; stress good sportsmanship; help players to improve
their self confidence, teach the skills associated with soccer and teach the lessons
associated with team membership, and provide camaraderie and a positive social
outlet are successful teams, regardless of their won/loss record. Judge
our SUSC travel coaches by these enduring and important achievements and not by
the won/loss record.
Another Word About Winning.
to win. Winning can make a coach seem successful, even if the coach is not teaching
fundamentals, promoting sportsmanship, building self-esteem, or doing the other
things that have lasting value. And, for the coach that is doing these things,
winning is the icing on the cake. The problem, of course, is that your team can't
always win. It may have just been promoted into a division that's too tough. The
team simply may not have enough talent. It may have run into a season where there
were a disproportionate number of injuries or just bad luck.
is the only measure of a team's success, then the chances are high that sooner
or later it will be judged a failure. Of course, if the team has several talented
players (and especially if it is beyond its early, developmental seasons), it
may be appropriate for the players and team parents to expect that the team will
consistently win its share of games. For most SUSC travel teams, however, experienced
coaches know that the more important measures of success are whether the team
has played hard and has played well, not necessarily whether the team has won.
Moreover, the true measure of the success of a coach's program is what the players
will take with themtheir soccer skills, a love of the game, an understanding
of what teamwork and team participation means, and lifelong memories and friendships.
We hope that you are proud of your son or daughter for having the ability,
the work ethic and the dedication to participate on a SUSC travel team. All of
us at SUSC hope that you, your player and your entire family will enjoy your SUSC
travel team experience.