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This guide was developed to assist parents and guardians in answering some of the more common questions concerning travel soccer. Travel soccer team play not only requires that your son or daughter be capable of playing at a high level relative to the rest of their age group, but also involves a substantial commitment in time, energy, and money from both the player and their families. While we attempt to respond to many of the different situations, you may find that some extraordinary circumstances, based on your family’s personal demands are not included in this guide.

What is travel soccer?

Travel soccer is a sponsored program of The St. James FC Virginia. The travel soccer program is organized by age and gender. It provides a highly competitive training and playing environment for those players (and their families) who have the required athletic ability, soccer skills, commitment, and can meet the other demands placed upon them.

How does travel soccer differ from the regular house or recreation soccer league?

TSJFCV soccer travel teams are competitive. Therefore, making the roster, and staying on the roster, must be earned based on the team member’s play. In a recreational soccer league, all players are placed on a team roster regardless of playing ability. Recreation soccer also has unique requirements to encourage participation by all players such as all players must play 1/2 of each game. Travel soccer playing time is based on the team’s needs and is at the coach’s discretion.

How does TSJFCV’s travel soccer program work?

TSJFCV aims to organize two travel teams in each age and gender bracket. The first team formed in each age and gender bracket are frequently the more highly advanced teams that may eventually compete for state and regional championships and other honors. 

The Clb's Technical Director coordinates the new team formation process. This includes directing the initial coach hiring process for all of the teams, and conveying the recommendations of the coaches to the Director of Soccer.

Unlike many Club travel programs in the Washington area, TSJFCV does not employ an "A-B system" when forming new U-9 (3rd grade) teams. All travel teams have the same fundamental mission for the players - to create a meaningful, positive experience; to develop soccer skills, and to teach the lessons associated with team play.  TSJFCV Soccer does, however, stagger the establishment of its travel teams at the younger ages so as to encourage the clustering of players of similar skill and athletic level on the same team by forming two boys and girls teams to begin play at U-9 level annually.

How does competition affect the travel soccer program?

TSJFCV Soccer travel teams play in one of three travel leagues: the National Capital Soccer League (NCSL), for boys ages U-9 through U-19; the Elite Player Development (EDP), for boys and girls ages U-9 through U-19; and the newly-formed Girls' Academy League (GA), for girls ages U-13 through U-19. Except for the teams in the youngest age groups, teams are assigned to particular divisions based upon their level of play. Each season teams are placed in a higher or lower division based upon their won/lost record. Generally the top two teams in a division are moved up a division and the bottom two are moved down a division. For this reason and others, travel soccer play inevitably becomes quite competitive.

While age alone is not a limitation in making a team, you may find that the competitive nature of travel soccer and the necessity of a team’s rigorous ongoing training may make it increasingly difficult as players get older to make a team if the player has no previous travel experience. This is particularly important to understand when trying out for teams in the GA, EDP and NCSL.

How old must my child be to play travel soccer?

Each summer, TSJFCV aims to forms two new boys travel teams and two new girls travel teams. These teams begin play the following fall as U-9 teams (generally 3rd grade). The boys teams play in the National Capital Soccer League (NCSL) or Elite Player Development (EDP) league as determined by the Club's Technical Director.

[Note: TSJFCV determines if your child is U-9 if they turn nine years old at any time from August 1 - July 31. For example, if your child turns 9 between August 1 - July 31 they qualify to play U-9 soccer for that season. If they turn 10 at any time between August 1 - July 31, your child qualifies to play U-10 soccer. A birth certificate or other documentation are required to establish your child’s age.]

How do I get on a travel team?

You must tryout to join a travel team. TSJFCV requires all travel teams to have a tryout each year generally in May and/or June. Some teams however, may have tryouts at other times during the year.

When and where are tryouts?

TSJFCV recommends that all soccer teams and coaches hold open tryouts generally in May or June after the spring season ends. Tryouts typically consist of 1-3 or more practice sessions to evaluate your child’s athletic ability, skills, and interest. After the tryouts, an offer may or may not be extended to your child. Alternatively, after the first tryout, the coach may ask your child to return for additional tryouts or suggest that the team is not a good fit for your child.

Some teams invite players to guest play in a tournament as part of the evaluation process. Occasionally, teams may pick up a player or two between the fall and spring seasons. However, NCSL limits the number of players who can be picked up between seasons (generally three players may be picked up). However, once seasonal league play begins, rosters are fixed and no additional players may be added.

How do I find out about a tryout?

Teams use various methods to publicize their tryouts. Newspaper advertisements, bulletin board notices, word of mouth and asking players to tryout are common methods. At TSJFCV, especially at the younger levels, travel team coaches will watch their respective recreation or house All Star teams as they play in the season ending tournaments. Several players from those teams may be asked to tryout for a team. However, even if you are not asked you may still tryout for a team.

If your child is interested in trying out for a travel team please check out the respective age group travel team contact information located on the Club website. You can also contact the Club's Technical Director for more information. If you’re having trouble hooking up with a team, please contact the TSJFCV Director of Soccer listed at the end of this guide.

What type of training is provided?

All TSJFCV travel soccer teams have a professional coach hired and assigned to the team they are responsible for. If a parent volunteer assists the head coach, it is done with approval from the Club Technical Director and must conform to the club's player development process and philosophy.

If a team uses a parent volunteer coach, understand what the parent volunteer's role and responsibilities are. The parent volunteer is an assistant to the head coach. The head coach continues to make decisions as to what skills are worked on in practice; how the practice is run; how the games are run; and, perhaps most importantly, what are the team's priorities and its tone and tenor.

When do travel soccer teams play their games?

Most TSJFCV Soccer travel games are held on Sundays but there are some Saturday games. It is not uncommon to play games on both a Saturday and Sunday of the same weekend. Occasionally, there may be a game on a weeknight based on weather cancellations at the end of the season. The fall season runs from September to the beginning of November. The spring season runs from the end of March until the first part of June.

Most teams also participate in tournaments. Tournaments consist of 3-5 games during a weekend. Generally tournaments are held several weeks before the season begins (i.e. in August and March), after the season (November and June), and during breaks in the season such as the Columbus Day and Memorial Day weekends. Tournaments may be local (i.e. the Washington DC metro area) or elsewhere in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, etc. Top flight teams may travel to prestigious tournaments such as those in Texas, California, Florida, and other locales.

Most TSJFCV travel teams play one to three tournaments per season including at least one out of town tournament per season.

Many TSJFCV Soccer travel teams at the U-12 and older ages compete in State Cup events. These events may also require out of town travel.

How many players are on a team?

Experienced travel coaches try to keep their rosters small, especially when coaching younger aged teams. The players are training hard and want to play. Their parents certainly want them to play. If a team is carrying 17 or 18 players on its roster (or 12 to 14 on a small-sided roster), there is simply no way that the team will be able to provide adequate playing time for every player. Smaller rosters assume that all players will be at the practices, matches and especially tournaments.

What volunteer positions are needed to support a team.

Teams organize in a number of different ways. Generally there is a team manager who is the go between the parents and the coach. The team manager generally handles many of the administrative details of the team such as league matters, applying to tournaments, communication, etc. The team manager position is the most time consuming job on the team beside the coach. Teams may have a parent coordinate tournament logistics and also help coordinate home field setup, etc. It takes a great deal of time and energy to operate a travel team and requires significant help at times by all player families. 

What is the player’s time commitment?

Most TSJFCV travel teams operate a 9-11 month per year program, including outdoor league play in the fall and spring, indoor play in the winter and camp and tournament play at various times throughout the summer. (High school age travel teams sometimes do not play in the spring when their high school squads are competing.)

Most TSJFCV travel teams train three times a week for 1 1/2 hours per session. Occasionally, some teams may practice or hold meetings with the players on a fourth day of the week. Including tournaments, most TSJFCV travel teams play approximately 15-20 games each spring and fall season and possibly 8 -10 games during winter Futsal league play.

While most TSJFCV travel teams, particularly younger teams, encourage their players to participate in other sports, travel teams also expect that team members will give preference to travel team games over conflicts with other sports.

My child wants to play high school soccer. Will playing travel soccer help?

Possibly, though there is no guarantee that your child will make his/her high school team. The fact that your child is participating in a higher level of play with more practices and games against better skilled competition will improve their game and increase their chances of making their high school team.

Where do travel soccer teams travel to for league play?

Locations for league games are generally within the area bounded by I-81 in western Virginia, Annapolis on the east, Baltimore on the north and Fredericksburg on the south. Locations of games are ultimately determined by the league your team is a member of such as the GA, EDP and NCSL and the makeup of the teams in your division. At times, you may find that a game will be played in a close-by community or one that requires a minimum of a 2-hour car drive.

How much does it cost?

TSJFCV soccer travel team participation is expensive. League and club fees; shoes, uniforms, and other gear; and travel and lodging costs for out of town tournaments can range from $200.00 to well over $500.00 per family, per season. For older teams, with paid trainers or coaches, the costs may be considerably higher. Travel teams can help defray their team expenses through team fund raising activities (car washes, sales, etc.) and volunteering for club programs and community service projects.

Is there any financial assistance available?

TSJFCV's Travel Soccer Program makes every effort to ensure that all children who are accepted onto a travel squad are able to participate without regard to financial considerations. If your son or daughter's participation is jeopardized because of financial considerations, talk to your coach or manager about your situation. You can also talk directly to the Director of Soccer.

What are the advantages of playing for a TSJFCV travel team rather than for another club?

The objectives of TSJFCV Travel Soccer are to:

1) Maintain a positive, but challenging environment that allow players to develop their physical, physiological, technical and tactical soccer potential;

2) Field teams that play quality soccer at a level of competition to commensurate with their talent;

3) Provide the opportunity for the most talented and dedicated players in the area from the same schools to play together and to allow teams to play at the highest level of competition possible;

4) Promote fairness, equity and good sportsmanship in pursuing the above objectives.

5) Supervise and support each team to attain the above objectives.

Additionally, all players and parents are required to adhere to the Club's code of conduct. Please click here for more information.

How is the coach chosen?

All coaches must apply for a coaching position to through TSJFCV's Team & Talent Division. Prospective coaches undergo a thorough interview and screening process with the Club's Technical Director, Director of Soccer and Athletic Director. The factors considered include the coach’s experience, temperament, and commitment. The Technical Director selects all travel team coaches after a careful examination of the coach's credentials. In addition, all coaches must apply to VYSA’s KIDSAFE program.

What Can Parents Expect From Travel Coaches?

TSJFCV soccer travel team coaches must meet high standards for technical competence; knowledge of soccer rules and tactics; ability to work effectively and positively with travel team players; and the ability to interact effectively and positively with travel team parents, other coaches and club league administrators. Travel team coaches are responsible for the selection of travel team members; for team training; for all on-field decisions; and for the overall conduct of the team on and off the soccer field. The travel team coach is the official representative of TSJFCV Soccer in dealing with players, parents, league officials and the public.

Most volunteer coaches, but not all, may have a son or daughter playing on the team. In such an event their child is automatically included on the team roster. The volunteer coach has offered up significant amounts of time and effort to ensure the team receives all the necessary attention it requires and deserves. All coaches should be regarded in the same manner that you wish to be respected. In the case of paid coaches, some of the off-the-field responsibilities are vested in the team manager, as discussed above.

Coaching a travel soccer team is a wonderful and gratifying experience but also a challenging and, at times, terribly frustrating experience. TSJFCV Soccer is very proud of its cadre of travel team coaches.

Can my child be cut from the team?

Yes, coaches may decide to drop a player. As a practical matter, this is almost always confined to June as the team’s roster is prepared for the upcoming fall and spring seasons and offers to join a team are for a full year (fall and spring seasons).

There are number of reasons why it becomes necessary to cut a player and the discretion belongs entirely to the coach. Experienced travel coaches know, however, that cutting a young person can be one of the most difficult things a young person has to deal with. Not surprisingly, parents can become very emotionally involved. The coach should try to give the child (and if a younger child, the parents) lots of notice that the child is at risk of not making next year's squad. At the same time, the coach should identify those aspects of the player’s game, which need to be improved in order for the child to stay on the squad. When faced with a cut, the coach will often try to talk the parents into moving the child to another team. Experience shows that if the parents and child opt to move the player from the team, the emotional hurt and impact is minimized. Also, most coaches believe that it is their responsibility to work with the player and the parents to try to find the player another, more suitable team.

Whom do I contact if I have an issue or problem?

The Director of Soccer represents TSJFCV Soccer in providing support and oversight of the TSJFCV Travel Soccer Program and in handling disputes.