Q & A about Travel Soccer

Open assessments are conducted each summer and are open to ages U9-19 and players are placed based upon past experience on teams and tryout performance. Teams will be formed based upon the final decision of the Director of Coaching and Board of Directors.

Q & A about Travel Soccer 

                                                           

1. What is travel soccer?

Answer: Travel soccer is competitive soccer played against teams from other towns or communities. Games are played in the Western NY area as a member of the Buffalo and Western NY Junior Soccer League and/or the Thruway League. Travel soccer is designed for players and parents who are willing to make a higher level of commitment in time, effort, training and competition. Players who have shown an interest and ability greater than most recreational players can benefit from moving to travel soccer. Most high school teams are made up of travel soccer players or most starters are the products of travel programs. If an ability or desire to play beyond high school exists, the player certainly must play travel and should explore ODP participation. Some of our teams that wish to play at the highest local level will compete in the Thruway League.

  2. How is travel soccer different from recreational (house league) soccer?

  Answer: There are three basic levels of soccer: recreational (house), travel, premier (for-profit clubs). Each level provides an increased level of commitment and cost. Amherst Soccer recommends parents let their child decide the level that suits them. Most young children benefit from playing with their friends and classmates in their own community, at least until they are older, have developed their skills in the correct environment or are ready to commit to one sport. Amherst strives to form as many teams as possible at the younger ages to give children a chance to experience travel soccer. Many premier teams are formed with players from throughout the region.  Some of our teams, due to retention of Amherst players and strength of the group, play at a premier (Thruway League) level.   Our club coaches can advise if your child is ready for travel or premier soccer.

  3. How much time will my child be expected to devote to soccer?

  Answer: Open to anyone from any town, teams are formed in August. Indoor practice will begin in November. Each Amherst team is scheduled 2 sessions per week in the North Amherst Rec Center or Village Glen for practice.  Some older groups are scheduled 1 session per week until April.  Most teams also participate in indoor soccer leagues that play once per week from January to April. Outdoor practices start in the spring, weather permitting. Coaches at different levels have varying numbers of practice per week. Early in the season 2 per week is the minimum. Outdoor league games run once per week May to August on weeknights. Sometimes an overnight trip to play a tournament is included.  The commitment is expected to be honored through the entire season.  Do not join a team if you are unwilling to honor a committment to attend and participate from November thru July.

  4. Where do we “travel” to?

  Answer: Games are played around Western New York on weeknights. Most towns have clubs. Divisions of seven or eight teams are formed and home and away games are played. Examples of towns include, Clarence, Tonawanda, Hamburg, Orchard Park, Lancaster, Lockport, Lewiston, Wilson, Kenmore, West Seneca, etc. Tournaments are played on Saturdays AND Sundays around the area and in the Rochester area. Sometimes overnight trips are made to Erie, Cleveland or Binghamton. Should your child join a team that is entering the Thruway League, you will play league games against teams from Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Binghamton, instead of local town teams (although the travel distance is farther for games, the number of games is fewer and season shorter).

  5. What if my child plays another sport?

 Answer: Travel soccer is not for everyone. A substantial time commitment is required. That being said, many of our players are able to juggle a schedule that includes baseball, basketball, swimming, dance, etc. Our coaches are expected to offer some consideration during the winter training season for conflicts.  No one expects a child that is 8-12 years old to focus on just one sport or activity.  Older children often play high school sports and the season starts later in May to accommodate game conflicts.   Once the outdoor season begins, soccer must become your first priority. If you are 13 and a travel baseball player, you would not be able to commit to travel soccer. Just because someone wants to play a spring high school sport does not relieve them of their commitment to the soccer team.  Spring is our in-season time and playing time will be decreased if attendance is not regular.  There will be a pre-season meeting to explain expectations. Every child who plays travel is expected to commit to a minimum of 75% of all team activities during the full year, not just games.  Do not expect to receive much playing time if you show up for games and not practices.  Commitment is important to teach to children and we expect the parents to be involved in maintaining this character trait.  

  6. What is the difference between an “A” and “B” team?

  Answer: Not much! Seriously, we have so many children who want to play travel soccer in Amherst that we are often able to form two teams in an age group. For purposes of development focus, at U9 or 10, we will no longer separate players by ability and just randomly assign players to teams or make them as equal as possible. We have the age-group pool all practice together at times. Soccer development is better served at the youngest ages by focusing on technical development. At U11 and older, children start to make decisions as to what sports and level of commitment they are willing to make. When we form teams, the club will assure that the ability levels are appropriate throughout the team.  This results in a better training environment for touches on the ball. We usually place teams in different divisions to allow appropriate competition. Many times one team is made up of players who have played for several years and the second team may be the newer players. This is done yearly and players move between the teams over time based upon development. Amherst second or "B" teams are stronger than many other clubs “A” teams. Sometimes the top 2 or 3 players on a “B” team improve more than the last 2 or 3 on an “A” team and will win a spot on that team the next year. Ideally, there could be movement of players between the teams each year based upon physical growth, soccer skill growth, personal interests, personal commitment to the sport and other factors.   The expected commitment level should be the same at either level.

  7. What if my child doesn’t make the team? When will I find out?

  Answer: We will try to have selections posted within 14 days of the assessments.  The process will take place over the month of AUGUST.     It is understood that coaches and the ASA staff constantly assess and evaluate player performance.  These ongoing assessments (from current year coaches) will weigh into player placement decisions for the upcoming season. We do not expect players to earn their place based upon two hours at assessments when we have a year's worth of evaluations from coaches and staff.  NEW PLAYERS need to attend these sessions to be considered for a place on a team.  If unable to attend, the Travel Coordinators will assign those new players to teams later after the initial round of assignments.

In order to secure a roster spot, players must commit no later than Sept 1 by paying in full online . Any player not paying online by that date will be assumed to be not interested and we will immediately move to the next available player that would be offered a place on that team.  If considering other options, make your decisions during this period and let us know if you are declining.

Players not accepted to the first team, will also be asked to register online if they wish to be considered for the potential teams to be formed later and possible movement up should other players decline.  The process will need to be adhered to for us to understand your true interest and commitment (monetary) and for formation of additional teams.  Only those who pay the fee online will be included.  Just registering without payment does not secure a place on any team.

If we need to find a place to play for any child willing and able to make the commitment expected and have the numbers to form a team, they may be placed on a mixed age-group team and not necessarily with their friends. 

 

 8. How much will my child play?

 Answer: The League and Amherst Soccer have a rule that “every child who plays on a team will play 50% at age 9-12”.  Sometimes this is difficult to assess and control at each game but, should be equalized over the season.  Additionally, each child should play a variety of positions on the field.  If your child is only playing one position or not enough, you have an obligation to ask the coach why and contact the Travel Coordinator.  The best defender at 10 years old could be the best forward at 15 and the best player at 10 is many times not the best at 15 due to growth and development differences.   Coaches are encouraged to train the total player and not focus all of their attention on winning. After age 12, more specialization will begin although the coaches are encouraged to play the kids at more than one position. You will see the players themselves starting to determine where they feel the most comfortable by 14.  ASA has changed coaches in the past for failure to adhere to the 50% rule. Older players will receive more or less playing time based upon the discretion of the coach. Factors that affect time include: attendance, attitude, effort, and ability. ASA coaches at U14-19 make every effort to be fair to all players.

  9. How are coaches selected?

  Answer: The staff makes recommendations based upon the application and observation of the individual. Each year we try to find the best possible coaching candidates while maintaining a reasonably priced program. All of our coaches, parent or otherwise, have played soccer in high school and/or college and/or have demonstrated sufficient experience in working with children in sports or both. ASA also requires each coach to attend and obtain a coaching license through the USYSA programs. They have all obtained at least an “E” license, most now have “D” and some obtained “C” level.  Each requires a substantial commitment of time and training. Coaches are encouraged to continue their education and obtain higher-level licenses and many coaches use trainers from the local college teams, high schools and former professional soccer players to assist. The past several years, ASA has secured the services of many college-aged or recent graduate soccer players. Each year we assess performance and coaches must apply yearly for a team. We will rotate coaches to different teams.  It is not in the child’s best interest to have the same coach throughout their soccer experience.  Over time, children do not learn from hearing the same voice, the same approach.  Many parent coaches wish to stay with their child’s team through the whole experience and we are finding that is not always the best thing to do. 

  10. What is ODP soccer?

  Answer: Olympic Development Program- is a training program run by the state associations for the players who desire a high level of training and competition and access to a variety of excellent coaching. This is the recommended activity for players who wish to play in college or have a sincere passion for the game. There is higher visibility with college scouts and contacts through this program than there is with premier soccer. For more information, access www.nyswysa.org. Training starts during the fall and runs throughout the year. ODP activities require travel and additional cost. Several Amherst Soccer coaches are on the ODP coaching staff.   We recommend ODP for the opportunity to play with some of the best players in the state and work with accomplished coaches.   Talk to our Director if interested

  11. What is Premier soccer?

  Answer: For children who show exceptional soccer development and passion for the sport.  Not everyone will choose this option since they may be a multi-sport athlete or have other interests that would require they drop to focus on soccer.  For that reason, premier teams have some of the best players but, also accept some who are willing to commit the time and money that may not be elite.   Several clubs in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse try to recruit the better players to come to play for them. Most are for-profit enterprises that exist as franchises or specifically to provide an income stream to people trying to make a living from coaching.  They will accept anyone from any town. Sometimes, but not always, at certain age groups, they are successful in convincing many of the best players to come to their club.  Many children are ready to commit to one sport and understand they will be training and playing soccer four or five days per week.  Many clubs do not tolerate absence for school sports.  They have various policies on playing time for all ages and are not specifically into the process of what is best for child development.  These teams usually play in a higher level league, travel more and farther, and visit more out of town tournaments. Many of the ASA coaches have been involved in both club and premier and ODP soccer with their children in the past or have coached at various levels. Ask to speak to someone for opinions and talk to other parents of older children who have experienced the premier programs before committing over $3000 and much more time to youth soccer. Ask the premier programs for names and where their kids ended up in college, if that is your goal, and how much scholarship money they got, before assuming that is the end result. Use our resources and speak to us about various recruitments and clubs.  We will be honest and encourage and promote the best level for every player.  ASA does not try to hold back any player from seeking their highest level of play and encourages moving to premier for many.  To better create a path for those players that aspire to the highest level of play, ASA has entered into a partnership with Empire United Soccer.  Empire is not-for-profit, as we are, has shown that winning is not the primary purpose in developing players, uses the same training techniques as Amherst and is the longest running premier club in the area with a solid structure and mission.  Their coaches are high level and most are not primarily earning their income from soccer.  We feel that ASA can share resources and become a liason for players who want a premier experience by helping them move to Empire.  Additionally, Empire has the national league Academy Program, which is the best route to college and/or the highest challenge in WNY and the best route to the Academy is through Empire, and now Amherst.  We will be sharing coaches, program plans, optional in-season practice opportunities and much more over time.  This plan has been in discussion for 7 years and we feel this will best serve our membership to take the correct path.  We don't see this process as losing "our" players as no one owns the rights to an athlete and this helps us take our "where player development comes first" motto seriously by assisting our highest level players reach their goals.  

  12. What are the Parent responsibilities?

  Answer: ASA expects each parent to be supportive of their child and the club by getting your child to practice and games on time, helping them to be regular in attendance at all or most activities, scheduling vacations after the season ends, showing consideration to the coach and team by giving notice of absence as early as possible, paying your fees to the club and team timely, and by volunteering your time to help with the Amherst International Memorial (AIM Cup) Tournament (our only fundraiser) and any other small requests we may have to accomplish our task.   Remember, we expect attendance at 75% or more of all team activities- practices, games and social events.  Once a child commits to a travel team, we hope the parent will help to assure that the commitment is honored for the season. 

  13. What are the estimated costs?

  Answer: A typical team has a yearly (November thru July) total per player cost of about $600-800. This can be affected by various discretionary items, such as tournaments, warm-ups, bags, etc. A sample for a U10 team is below. This is per player (14 total per team estimate). Larger rosters for older teams will show different amounts.

  • ASA registration $435 includes league fees, insurance, referees, administrative costs, equipment, UNIFORM, etc.
  • 22 weeks of indoor training (30-40 sessions)
  • 10-13 outdoor games May to August

Estimated team costs which are paid thru the team treasurer and at coach/parent discretion:

  •   Indoor League $70 Played at Epic, or Sahlen's at coach’s discretion
  •   Warm-up/Hoodie/Sweats/Third Jersey $20-90 Optional per coach and team
  •   Bag $10-40 Optional
  •   Tournaments $75 -3 weekend tournaments
  •   Some- Coaching fee $100-200 -We offer a coaching stipend to non-parent coaches if there is not a qualified parent
  •   End of Year Party $20 - variable
  •   AIM support - $50 minimum per player -We ask each family to sell at least one tournament program ad or 5 raffle tickets. If a team reaches their goal it receives a rebate of some fees
  •   Travel, Hotels – if attending out of town tournament

These costs should be discussed at the first coach/parent/team meeting with all members discussing and understanding the plans as explained by the coach/manager.  The coach has discretion to determine the best activities for the level of competition required but, should discuss costs and time with the team and get concurrence. Once you accept this plan you are expected to be supportive and pay all bills on time.  This is your chance to decline if it is not for you.