They come from an upper-class neighborhood in Southern California where the 3 S’s reign supreme: success, status and sports! So I was particularly taken aback when I heard the plan for their extremely athletic and highly competitive 7-year-old daughter. Unlike EVERYONE around them, they were not going to jump into the club game. They are “bucking the system” and going to do it their way. Something I’m sure a lot of us wish we had the courage to do!
Here is their story…
When my daughter’s peers of similar ability “tried out” for a local club team, my husband and I started a discussion that turned into an ongoing debate … Should she or shouldn’t she play club?
My husband’s view: A 7-year-old girl is too young to dedicate that much time to one sport and burnout is inevitable. He also didn’t want to spend so much weekend time driving all over Southern California for tournaments.
My view: If she doesn’t get on board now, she’ll fall behind and we will ruin her chances of being at the same level as her peers later.
We discussed our long-term hopes for her and for soccer. After talking about our goals and plans, the answer surfaced quickly. Neither one of us was interested in committing so much of her time as a child (or ours) to a sport that is so ubiquitous that her chances of ever playing at a high level were next to nil. That being said, both my husband and I are competitive people and also played sports through high school, so we devised a plan that worked for us and our lives.
She plays both fall and spring AYSO soccer. She trains in the off season with a youth coach from the UK and with a trainer at TOCA Training Centers (think ball machine that helps with footwork). We do both of these at our convenience.
For now she has plenty of time in her schedule for other sports, activities, friends, and family time. We also love that she plays at fields in our neighborhood. We don’t know if what we are doing will keep our daughter in step with all of her high-performing friends, but we are certain that we aren’t burning her out of a sport that she loves and plays beautifully.
What are your thoughts? Do kids have to play club to keep up? We would love for you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.