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Soccer for School-Aged Kids
Our family just moved from New York to Berkeley a couple of weeks ago. Our daughter (Age 6, about to enter 1st grade) is very interested in learning to play soccer. I was wondering if anyone could recommend a place or organization where she could take soccer lessons? She's not super sporty, so we love that she's excited to play a sport, but we don't want her to join a team where she would have to practice several times a week and play games every weekend. Does anybody have any ideas? Torrie
I have a 6-yr old girl and we live in El Cerrito. She would like to play soccer but we cannot commit to weekend games. Does anyone know of any option out there for us?
My 8-year-old son is crazy about soccer and wants to play it every day. He is on an ABSC team which he loves. But he is ready for more time on the field and more serious skills training. He wants to stay on his ABSC team but I'm looking for options that can allow him to play more often. I don't see any recent reviews of East Bay United on the website and I'd love some feedback from parents whose kids are on the U9 or U10 competitive teams there. Has it been a good and positive experience? What is the quality of coaching? What's the time commitment like? Is it a supportive, encouraging environment or is it super competitive? What other options are out there, such as EBU skills clinics, to give him some more specialized training? We are in Berkeley and would prefer not having to drive too far. Thanks! soccer mama
My son is crazy about soccer, but has only played it at school recess, with a few fun summer camps thrown in here and there. I'm happy to sign him up for a team or program, but loathe to join an uber-competitive group that takes over our lives and turns me into a glorified chauffeur. Any suggestions for a group or team that focuses on building skills, learning how to work with teammates and just plain having fun? Any chance such a team might be playing in the next few months, or do I have to wait until summer or fall? Thanks! Soccer-averse mom
Your son will be put on team appropiate to his skills. Rec teams usually practice once a week and play once or twice a weekend, division teams usually practice twice a week and play once or twice a weekend. If your son is good enough he will not be happy playing on a rec team even if you are happier with less driving. Usually you can find carpools to help out with games and practices. Good luck and have fun Harry
I would just ask around his school and see what the other kids in his grade are doing. Sign ups for fall rec soccer in our area (LMYA--Lafayette Moraga Youth Assoc.) happen in May. Tryouts for clubs in our area (Eclipse, Lamorinda, Heritage, Walnut Creek soccer clubs) start as early as February. (They practice and play tournaments during the summer, and move into competition in the fall.)
If your son has never played competitive soccer, I would just start with a summer camp and sign him up for your local rec team for fall play. Rec teams usually practice once a week and play their weekend games locally.
Hi, Our 9 year old daughter has taken a great interest in playing goalie. She's doing pretty well, but could really use some fine tuning. Are there any recommendations of someone that you really felt like is a good tutor, so to speak, for honing in on good skills and good drills with her? soccer mama
Dear Community, We are moving to Berkeley in January 2012. My 11-year-old son is an avid soccer player who currently plays in a travel team in Virginia. I know tryouts are typically in the summer, but it would make his transition to California a lot easier if we could find a team with which he could play and train in Berkeley. Any suggestions? Where would I find out about existing teams and how to link up with them? Thanks! Peter
I have a 6 year old boy who is not at all interested in team sports like soccer or t-ball, but that may be because he thinks it will be too hard for him, or because he's never really done it much before. It seems like most of the boys in his kindergarten class last year were involved in both of these sports, and I worry that he will not fit in, or that he will not have the skills needed to be part of the sports later on if he chooses. So I'm wondering if I should push him to sign up for at least one of these, just to give it a try, or if I should not worry about it and let him decide when to play. He has tried gymnastics, but was not too interested in that. The martial arts are another possibility, and we haven't tried that yet. Mostly he just wants to play his own games! So if anyone has any ideas about a program that might work for a boy like this, please let me know. Thank You
We have a soon to be 6-year-old daughter who is interested in playing soccer. We live in Oakland now but are moving to Moraga soon, and are wondering if anyone knows where my daughter could play. She's never played soccer, so we are looking for a place where she can get started. I prefer slow-paced and not very competitive environment. Any pointer is appreciated. a future soccer mom
I think the deadline for registration is May 31, but I know for a fact we enrolled our daughter in June when we first moved here, so just contact the league and try to get her on a team ASAP. You might have to pay a late registration fee. The league website is http://www.lmyasports.com The website's contact page has phone numbers and email addresses if you want to talk to someone about late registration.
My energetic, fun-loving girl really enjoys playing soccer and is now in her second season in Albany/Berkeley Soccer Club. It has been a pretty good experience. However, my daughter is only one of about 4 girls in a group of many, many more boys. Frequently she is the only girl on her team for the day. I am all for co-ed sports and in general think that at this age it is totally appropriate. However, each week I am watching her grow more passive and seem less excited about playing. She has complained that the boys are 'faster' and 'push alot' and she is developing a hang back and watch the action attitude about it all. During the 'game' time she doesn't seem to be having that much fun. During 'drills' she is much happier. She really wants to be on a 'team' and play with other kids - but this environment is not building her confidence. I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions for any girls only soccer experiences for this age group? a one week camp or something would be great. She really likes to play and I want to help her be in an environment where her confidence is nurtured and she has alot of fun. thanks! mom of a soccer girl
I am looking for a place/an opportunity for our two oldest kids (girl, 9 and boy, 10) to play soccer. We are Swiss and will only stay in the Bay Area until the end of April. In Switzerland both of them play in a team and they would like to practice a little bit (preferably weekdays in the afternoon), either some sort of class or scrimmage. Any idea would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
Can anyone recommend a soccer class or group where my 8 year old daughter can learn how to play soccer? She is not very athletic and this is the first time she's expressed interest in any sport. She really needs a class with other beginners or she probably won't participate. I'm also hoping to find a class that is more fun than competitive, at least while she's learning. Any ideas? Thanks!
I'm interested in finding a soccer league for my just 6 year olds boys to play in that uses Positive Coaching, or something like that--where parents are encouraged to be supportive but not coach from the sidelines. My kids have been doing a soccer clinic for 4 and 5 year olds for two years and they're ready for a team. But I've seen a couple games of different Albany/Berkeley/El Cerrito leagues and there are some really passionate parents of 7 year olds who seemed really invested in the outcome of the game. In a couple of games I couldn't tell who was the actual coach.
On a related note, it seems there are more options for girls to do recreational soccer longer; the boys teams become a competitive league at an earlier age.
As we look to Spring soccer and joining a team, I want to choose a league where a) there are clear expectations of parents on the sidelines and b) there are recreational options as the kids age in case the competitive teams aren't the best fit for my boys or our family.
I know there are lots of soccer families out there and I would appreciate hearing any reflections, clarifications and how folks have navigated these waters. Thanks, Rachel
If my daughter didn't love the sport so much and if she didn't personally have such a fabulous coach who is all about sportsmanship she'd be out of the sport. So with all that being said, you won't be able to get away from it regardless of what club or league you join. With luck, you can find a great coach and a group of families with similar values for your kid. But you'll always have to deal with the families from the opposing team and unfortunately you can't control them. As a referee, I find it hard to control them sometimes.
The Jack London Youth Soccer League which encompasses, Rockridge, Montclair, Grass Valley, Piedmont and Alameda does participate in the Positive Coaching Alliance. I beleive that all new families must participate in a PCA meeting. In my opinion that should be repeated every year! Eva
As for rec vs. competitive, Rockridge has rec teams for both boys and girls that go up to at least U14 or U15. There is a high drop out rate from rec soccer around that age group for both boys and girls, and so the kids that keep playing much beyond that age do tend to be on either the class 3 or class 1 select teams. Rockridge soccer coach and parent
Can anyone tell me what playing for Bay Oaks soccer is like? I have a U9 player. I don't want him to lose his joy in soccer if it is too grueling or competitive among the team members. The training seems great, but I want to be realistic about my own limits--is it all weekend, every weekend? I am wondering if we are better off only trying out for Class 3 soccer. (Sting in Rockridge, in our case, any comments about Sting are also appreciated). Thank you! anon
In terms of the practice time commitment, from what I know from all my friends with kids in the class III programs is that it's exactly the same. In Bay Oaks our kids have 2 practices per week (U9 and U11) which is the same as the Sting teams. I'm less sure about the number of games/weekend average for Sting, but for BO we usually play 1 or 2 games per weekend (pretty evenly split). The difference is that the 'away' BO games are very much away - in places like Concord, Fremont, Pleasenton, Manteca, Sacramento, Burlingame, etc. I don't think the class III teams go that far. So we carpool and work it out.
BO at the younger ages plays the fall season from mid-August through mid-December. There's a break in games and practices over the winter until the next try-out in February, although many teams do futsal or Bladium 1x per week but it's pretty casual. In the spring they go back into 2x per week practices and about 1 game per weekend from March - end of May. June and July are off. As the kids get older the schedules shift in the calendar.
What I've heard from parents with experience with both class III and Bay Oaks is that the coaching is the real difference between the two. The BO coaches are really really good - many have years and years of coaching experience, and the club works with them all on a monthly basis to make sure everyone is coaching to the same set of development-focused standards (as opposed to win-at-all-costs coaching which you see in other class I clubs). Better coaching means more skilled soccer players and a more developed sense of the game.
Yes, we spend most every weekend from August to December going to soccer games (I think we've had 2 entirely soccer-free weekends so far this fall) but the kids love it and love their teams and coaches. I would suggest your child try out for both Bay Oaks and a class III team and see what happens.
Disclaimer: I have 2 kids playing soccer, have been involved (actively) in our soccer club for 6 years, so I have developed some rather strong personal opinions about youth sports, and soccer specifically.
8 year old kids should NOT BE SPECIALIZING in a sport - no matter how much they may love a sport, it is NOT in the best interests of their physical development to be specializing. Talk to your pediatrician - ask them about the myriad injuries that occur when young kids focus all of their energy - and exercise - on specific activities, developing (and straining) some muscle groups and not not working others. Talk to older, more experienced soccer parents about burnout, how their families adapt to the rigors of multiple practices, travel to games, etc.
Then, think about how many birthday parties, school events, etc, your child will NOT be able to enjoy... because a commitment to higher level soccer is a much more serious time commitment.
If your child truly LOVES soccer, there are other alternatives that you can pursue, and still play Class IV (Recreational) soccer - and still have a life outside of soccer. Play on a higher-level Rec team - Gold flight (when they move up to U10) is as challenging, or even MORE challenging, than the U9 Developmental programs - but they tend to respect the other acitivites that families wish to enjoy. Look into playing at Bladium - you can play indoors, year-round. Check into Winter league Futsal - small-sided soccer on hardwood courts (fast, skills- based, and FUN).
Also, look into the different clubs that make up Jack London Youth Soccer League. Rockridge is just one of 7; each Club runs its own Class III program. At Class III, it's really no longer about playing w/ your school friends; teams are chosen by competitive tryout, and winning a spot ONE year does NOT mean you will be invited back the NEXT year. Are you prepared to be ''cut'' after a year? Will your child still love the game, or in the event they don't make it, will they just give up and feel they are ''not good enough''? At 8 and 9 years of age, kids don't have the maturity to really understand being told not to come back.
If you are determined to play competitive soccer, look to the other side of the tunnel - the Class III Clubs in Orinda,etc, are *fabulous*, and the fields out there are beautiful. (Oakland, as we know, is strapped for $$, and playing fields are NOT maintained.)
You have to make the decision that is right for your family, but I encourage you to allow your child to enjoy ALL of their childhood - there is plenty of time, later, to specialize in just one sport, and to have your life devoted to playing ONE game, all year round. Good Luck. It's a family decision, and not one to be made lightly.
Just sign me - another soccer parent
It is not a year-round league. There are 2 month breaks in the winter and summer. In the winter many kids play soccer once/week but it's very casual. In the summer the kids don't have to do anything at all. Our kids swim, cycle and play tennis when they're not playing soccer, and I know other BO kids who do martial arts, theater, dance and a whole bunch of other physical activities. So doing BO at U9 is not necessarily specializing unless you choose to.
For the pre-teen age groups, the kids only practice twice a week. Our son's team added a 3rd conditioning practice for 6 weeks right in the beginning of the fall season (August - Sept) and our daughter's team added 4 weeks of Sutton Soccer at that same time of year. The rest of the fall practices were only 2x per week and the same in the spring. Once the kids' bodies are more developed, many teams have a 3rd practice that's either conditioning only or Sutton. Conditioning can be running/sprinting or swimming.
The Bay Oaks coaches want the kids to be physically and socially well-balanced, healthy and love soccer. Anon.
We are looking for a good soccer club for a 7 year old girl. We live in the Berkeley Hills near Codornices Park. Saturday or Sunday is fine, along with after school time (after 4pm). Our daughter is very athletic, but hasn't recently participated in organized soccer. We're looking for something fun but serious- thank you! david
The make up of these teams and the quality of coaching can vary widely.Some teams are nice; some are not. Some coaches emphasize one thing,others another.
At around age 10, should your kid like it, there are tryouts for class 1 teams like the Bay Oaks in Oakland and the Mavericks in Berkeley, etc. This is much more of a serious commitment on the part of child and parents as practices are two or three times a week; there are games most weekends, and away tournaments, depending on the coaches. Games may be an hour to an hour and half away on weekends, and the traveling ones can be in So.Cal or anywhere else. It's up to the coach about that. It's a much higher level of competition and commitment and can be very thrilling.
But at age 7, it's just about learning the game and seeing if your kid likes it. Just check it out for your community and do it pretty quickly so you don't miss the season. Anonymous
Does anyone know any that are starting soon? My son has been wanting to play soccer for 1 1/2 now. Ideally a league that is between Oakland's Temescal District and Hercules... Drea
I'm looking for winter soccer oppurtunities for my daughter. Her recreational season just ended but she still wants to play. We live in Oakley and are willing to commute, but only 50 miles or so. Any suggestions? Marilynn
We are looking for any advice starting soccer. We missed fall signups so will sign up for spring. Three kids, 8 year old girl and 7 year old boy at LeConte elementary, and 4 year old girl, we live in South Berkeley. Are there any big differences between Rockridge Soccer http://rockridgesoccer.org and Albany Berkeley Soccer club? www.abscsoccer.com? Is one league more likely to include our South Berkeley neighbors? carpooling sometimes would be great. thanks!
If i were you I'd ask around at your school and see which league folks are in. If you know other kids in the South Berkeley school zone you can ask them, too.
One other deciding factor may being where weekday practices and Saturday games happen. My girls in the ABSC play on El Cerrito fields often (good fields). Last year one played all season in Richmond. This year 2 games are in Pinole. My friend with kids in the Oakland League says her kids play from North Oakland down to Alameda or Lake Merritt. I imagine you can check on line too see what fields are used (but am not sure). Soccer Mom
RSC is a huge club with many teams in the U8 and U10 age groups. They are part of the Jack London Youth Soccer League and the U10 and older teams play against teams from Montclair, Piedmont, Alameda, and Oakland. Practices are usually at different fields in Oakland and the games can be in Oakland or as far away as Alameda.
The Albany-Berkeley Soccer Club is much smaller. It is part of the Alameda-Contra Costa Youth Soccer League. They play against teams from El Cerrito, Richmond, and San Pablo. Practices can be in Berkeley and Albany, with games in any of the participating cities.
So, part of your decision may depend on which direction you want to drive to get to practices and games.
I have a child in each club and volunteer extensively for RSC, so feel free to contact me for more information. Lucy
We are from Germany and new in Berkeley. We are searching for a soccer group that our 5 year old son can join or for other boys and girls in similar ages to play soccer with my son and husband. Please let us know if you can recommend something or are interested to meet for playing ''fun soccer'' in a park. We also need toodler sports or water playing for our 2 year old daughter, can you recommend something? Alexandra
My strong 7-year-old daughter would love to play soccer or softball on a Sunday league. She is committed and willing to practice. There seem to be lots of choices for Saturday (during the same time she is in German School), and yet I'm not able to find anything for Sunday. Anyone have suggestions? Thanks in Advance. Deb
We are a South Berkeley family interested in recommendations for the Rockridge Soccer Club from parents of kids with recent experiences. Our 9 year old son recently completed the Fall season with ABSC and we are looking for a less competitive team atmosphere. I have heard that Rockridge keeps the ''fun'' spirit alive and that practices are limited to once a week, but would like additional feedback regarding coaches' attitudes, etc. Also, is it possible to sign up for Spring 2006 if he did not play in the Fall?
My son LOVES sports and wants to play soccer. It seems like this should be easy, but I'm having a hard time finding the right program. The Montclair Soccer Club looks perfect so I've been watching their web site but I just discovered he misses the cut-off for their youngest group by two days for this fall's registration (kids have to be 6 years old on July 31st). I've seen a few clubs outside Oakland and summer camp programs on the BPN, but I'm looking for a Saturday or Sunday game with possibly weekday evening practices. I can't seem to find one in Oakland, the rec dept has their programs during weekday working hours. Does anyone know of a soccer program for 5-6 year olds with practices and games after 5pm and/or on weekends? Oakland preferred, but if there really is nothing else, we'll drive somewhere. Thanks!
I have a 5 year-old and I'm interested in getting him into soccer. Does anyone have experience with good places in Oakland. I looked on the website and I don't see anything for soccer in Oakland. Thanks Royah
Hi all - My nearly 6 year old son is ready for soccer, so I need to key in to what the happenings may be in the Oakland area... We are in Montclair and it would be great to find a local team. Does anyone have suggestions for Fall sign-ups (or, am I too late?) -- Thanks so much! Laurie Laurie
Can anyone give me feedback on the Cal Strawberry Canyon Girls Soccer Camps? Can you recommend a girls soccer team/club in the El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley areas for a 7 year old girl? Mary
Depending on where you live and where your daughter goes to school, you might also consider the Rockridge Soccer Club, which has a lot of Berkeley players as well. Their website is http://rockridgesoccer.org/ and registration for new players for the fall is on 4/29, 5/6 and 5/8 at Chabot School in north Oakland. Details on the web page. Have fun! Norm
HELP I am trying to map out school for my daughter currently a student at Kaiser Elementary School, who is a gifted athlete. She is an average student academically and shows promise in the areas of math and science. We have ltd. funds as I am a single parent. I am trying to figure out how to give her as much exposure to athletics. She is currently on a soccer team, will do the swim team at Dimond pool. I am looking for a track Team that will not be to costly and am wondering if anyone has any experience with junior high schools and high schools which might help her cultivate her talents. Is there any parent who was in a similiar situation a few years ago and wishes someone had told them to do something they didn't. any input appreciated anon
My 9-year-old son (4th grade) is interested in playing soccer but has never played before. Many of his friends are already on teams and have been for several years. Can anyone recommend where he might get started but with kids his own age and not toddlers?! There are lots of soccer venues out there, but most 9-year-olds already have lots of experience, and the ''beginners'' I've checked out are all 4- and 5-year olds. I need to add that my son is Not real sporty and is also embarrassed by this. Is there anywhere to learn the very basics of the game and have fun playing it too? Thanks. Laurel
Here's a concrete suggestion. Most leagues (including Rockridge and Montclair soccer leagues) have sign-ups for fall soccer that occur in the spring. You son can sign-up and ask to be matched with a particular coach or kid he knows, and it will probably happen. Then have your son go to Albany Sports Camp or some summer camp that includes non-competitive soccer. (I would stay away from all-day summer soccer camps, they're pretty intense.) He can get some practice and fun with the game before fall even rolls around.
You could also talk to the parent-coach of a team that includes your son's friends -- coaches are volunteers who do it for the kids, and he/she might provide some good advice too. Have fun! Funloving Sports Parent
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