The dilemma as to whether your son or daughter should play year-round for their club team or for their high school team during the school year has been around for more than the 21 years I have been coaching. I am reasonably sure it will not go away any time soon. The bottom line regarding the decision is that it is focused on each player's personal, social and soccer development and desires.

Parents receive many different messages about their player’s development that they are often confused to the point of being scared about knowing what’s best for their kids. Parents hear claims from many sources that a certain way is the best way, or words to that effect.

I advise parents and players to take control of the process. That requires parents to learn more about the landscape of player development. With a wide range of resources at their fingertips, players and parents can investigate the alternatives. Gather information from a variety of independent sources such as the Positive Coaching Alliance and the United Soccer Coaches about the pros and cons of the options. Talk to club, high school, and college coaches. It is important for parents to engage their child in a conversation about how they feel, what their goals are, and how they want to handle the situation. The player should have voice in the process.

Both high school and club teams provide opportunities for players to access the next level. In either case, the best strategy is for the player to be encouraged to take control of their own developmental success and the recruiting process. The most successful players at any level are the ones that enjoy what they are doing, doing it with a group of people they want to be with, and doing it because they want to.

Taking ownership of the process will lead to improvement and long-term success. To take control of the recruiting process, players need to contact coaches at schools where they have an academic interest and be persistent. Both high school and club coaches can help make these contacts. Waiting for someone to find you may lead to nothing. Take the initiative. By the way, coaches want to hear from the players, not the parents. There are many paths that lead to the next level.

I encourage you to create a culture that explores the options and platforms so that players can be happy and maximize the development of their abilities.

Dave Gosselin coaches soccer and is the author of Focus on Them: Leading the mindset revolution for coaches educators, and business leaders.

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