Since February, I’ve been watching a lot of soccer as a referee, working with people at the state organization for youth soccer to understand where issues in building the game have led us to the current state of affairs. If you are not aware of what is going on in youth soccer that is perfectly fine. I’m posting this little listing to enlighten you on the various levels of play and organization that exist in the Pittsburgh region. We do have players on both our high school and jr. high teams that play on Local Travel Teams through the YMCA, Competitive Teams through Hotspurs and Century, and for their school teams. If you hear that so and so is playing this weekend but you don’t have a game, it may be that they are playing for their competitive team and not for the school or local club.
Normally in the spring I will help out at a club closer to my house in Pittsburgh- often Plum working with under-8 players where we want to build the basic skills of dribbling, passing and understanding how to protect our goal. This is where the joy of coaching begins, because I really need to forget about all the things I know about soccer and focus on the first steps, basic skills and fun. I’ve been making time also to work with the mixture of high school and jr. high players at Armstrong to get their soccer brains back after basketball, volleyball, softball and track.
Where does high school soccer fit among the options for youth soccer in the United States? Does it fit under the grass roots or development academy banner? Why would I even bother writing about this topic when we should be focused on the field?
In-House Local Club – GRASSROOTS– Usually affiliated with a non-profit Soccer Club, YMCA, local Athletic Club, town parks and recs department. This utilizes local fields and could be an extension of the affiliates board with volunteer coaches and administration.
Travel Local Club against Local region teams – GRASSROOTS– Member organization of PA West or other State Soccer under the US Youth Soccer banner. This is normally a non-profit organization that has a volunteer board specifically for the soccer program. Volunteer coaches and administrators. Volunteer coaches are encouraged to obtain coaching licenses and training through US Soccer or United Soccer Coaches. All games are officiated by US Soccer certified officials.
Competitive/Classic Development Club playing against other local Development Clubs – COMPETITIVE– Member organization of PA West or other State Soccer under the US Youth Soccer banner. This is could be a non-profit organization 501.3c that has a volunteer board or a for-profit depending on the club type. All coaches are trained and have licenses under US Soccer or the United Soccer Coaches. Coaches are paid to coach. Player fees are normally higher to pay for fields, coaches and tournamens. All games are officiated by US Soccer certified officials.
Regional/Academy Select Teams within development clubs that choose to play in a more competitive multi-state regional league. – COMPETITIVE — SAME AS ABOVE, BUT WITH REGIONAL TRAVEL AND POSSIBLY NATIONAL TRAVEL.
Jr. High/High School – GRASSROOTS/COMPETITIVE– I like to call this the blender: This is the one place where players from grassroots local clubs and regional select teams all play together on the same field to represent their school and community. This blending together of multiple skill levels and personal friendships is really an extension of the classroom. The state NFHS organization determines the referee requirements.
I hope this explains the soccer options that are out there around the Pittsburgh area and hopefully explain what we are trying to do locally to BLEND the team that we have.
How long should it take to develop a grassroots player into a competitive player?
High School players- Do we need to develop to the next level or just learn how to work with each others skill sets?
Feel free to comment and ponder the above questions.
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