Howdy folks! I hope you are all doing well and are staying safe. These are crazy times. Now that things are starting to get looser and locations are getting the go-ahead to start, I felt that this would be a good time for this to come out. With tryouts all across Colorado looming, I’m sure your all thinking: “How is this going to impact our lives?” “What is going to happen in the fall?” “How are schedules going to look?” These are just a few questions that people have asked me over the years. I have had the pleasure of working at many clubs and I have had my share of great experiences, as well as some real “head-scratchers”. My goal is to help you have fewer of those head-scratching moments and more of those great experiences.
  1. No Club is Perfect
This is the one every parent seems to forget. We’re not perfect. No one is. Mistakes happen, and what builds trust and credibility is when the club owns up to the mistake. Does the club pass off blame, or ignore the mistake all together? In fact, do they blame you? Those are things you need to think about regarding your past club interactions.
  1. The Drive
This is also a top item to check off on a family’s list. How far do you have to drive? Is there a club closer? How would that work with my schedule? Have you talked to people at the club? Sometimes parents pick convenience over quality. Shop around, talk to people at the club, see if there is an event coming up. You could talk to participants and staff. Just because a club is close does not mean it’s quality. As I mentioned earlier, every club has its flaws. For example, Club A’s U11-U13 ages could be a mess but its High School program is great. Club B could be mediocre all over and people choose it because they live in the neighborhood. Club C could be fantastic at developing the younger players, but its High School ages struggle because its not near a high school. Things change over time. Remember this is about YOU not Them. What fits you?
  1. Friends
Keep in mind that most youth players want to play with friends. It seems obvious that everything feels better when people you care about are involved. When I played that’s what I wanted to do. Talk to my friends and their families and ask them questions. “How do you like the club?” “What is one problem you have?” “What are the Coaches like?” “Are they clear and prompt when communicating?” Those are just a few questions I would ask, and this leads me to the next part.
  1. Coaches
This is the most important part. This is typically what makes or breaks clubs. It’s scary to think how a bad coach can impact the growth of the club, sport, and more importantly, your family, not just the player. I have had my fair share of coaches, both good and bad. I was blessed to have more good coaches and mentors than bad, but I remember exactly why I didn’t like that some of them. I have been a coach for quite some time and I know that I have made both lists. I have been the villain as well as the prince in players’ journeys. You might want to ask yourself, “what are these coaches like? Do they have recognized licenses? How long have they coached? What is his or her background?” Its never a bad idea to ask the club about the coaches in your player’s age group as they sometimes change. Don’t hesitate to call the Club and ask to speak to the Coach or Director of Coaching if they are available, or even invite them to one of your kid’s games to meet you. Most coaches do this because they love it. We are a unique group of people.
In conclusion, there are many factors to consider when choosing a club. I only outlined a few, but trust me, I could write a whole book on this topic. Part 2 of this article will be coming out soon. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite sayings: “What color do you like your cool aid? We all just offer a slightly different flavor.” The choice is yours.

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