1. What is the difference between A3's soccer program and others in the area?
The major difference between A3 and other soccer programs in the area is the level of commitment by the club to the community and kids. A3 offers opportunities for all kids regardless of skill - whether they're ready for premier travel teams or just looking for recreational leagues.
- A3 soccer fee covers experienced licensed coaching combined with professional oversight from some of the world's finest professional trainers to emphasize player development.
- A3 offers more for less. The cost of playing for A3 is far less, in most cases, than comparable clubs in the area. In most travel soccer cases, it is thousands of dollars less. The average cost for a travel soccer program (Fall 2016) in the Washington DC area is nearly $3,000 and for a recreational program it can cost you several hundred dollars per year. At A3, we believe that we can provide you the same opportunities for a fraction of the cost. Our travel program fees are in the hundreds and our recreational program will average at $300 per year. How do we keep our costs down? We don't charge for field rentals or pay outrageous fees for coaches.
- A3 has a locally unique partnership with world-class West Ham United International Youth Academy which allows us to leverage their training curriculum and their coaches/trainers to work with our players. For example, during the Summers of 2015 and 2016, we had multiple West Ham International Academy Trainers fly in from London to provide an ID session for our players. In 2015, 22 of our players were invited to a West Ham National Camp. See what it is all about:
- A3 offers the unique opportunity to play multiple sports with our Crofton Athletic Council partners - baseball, wrestling, softball, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, etc. Some soccer clubs bill themselves as soccer only. Well that's ok for some but most families want the option of playing multiple sports or have other kids who may be interested in other sports. More importantly, we strongly believe that young soccer players should be playing multiple sports to allow their bodies and muscles to grow properly and avoid sport-specific injuries.
- A3 is committed to offering opportunities for toddlers all the way through high school.
- A3 is one of the most successful clubs in Anne Arundel County with numerous teams in the highest divisions of the most competitive leagues in the area.
2. What is the difference between the Select/Travel and County teams?
There are two types of soccer teams sponsored by A3 county and select.
A3 Select/Travel Teams – are for kids who possess above-average skills, determination, and are competitive. The A3 Select teams play in the US Youth Soccer Region 1 Champions League (Region 1), Super Y League (Super Y), Eastern Development Program (EDP), National Capital Soccer League (NCSL), Baltimore Beltway Soccer League (BBSL), and Central Maryland Short-Sided League (CMSSL), the area's premier youth soccer leagues. A3 select teams will usually consist of the age group's most skilled players. Being flexible about what competitive level each team plays in is a reflection of our commitment to individual player development and putting players into the most competitive environment. Why are select teams sometimes called “travel” soccer? Our teams are all competitively selected (therefore "select") and travel to games throughout the metro region (therefore “travel”).
- Commitment - select teams require a one-year commitment spanning from the fall season through the spring season. Most teams will also play one or two indoor soccer sessions during the winter. Teams who play in these leagues must be ready for fierce competition and a realization that teams must win to avoid relegation. Upon reaching the U-11 or U-12 age group, teams that aren’t competitive are eventually relegated out of the more competitive leagues.
- Player Movement - players identified as having the requisite skills and commitment to move up in terms of competitive levels may be offered the opportunity to do so throughout the year; however, this should be done with the least amount of disruption to the age-group (i.e. – winter break). It is important for age group coordinators and coaches work together to avoid intra-age group recruiting. Age group coordinators who desire to move a player based on demonstrated skills/commitment (in the middle of the soccer year) should coordinate the move with the Commissioner (or designee).
- Playing Time - players must understand that playing time on a select team is not guaranteed. Playing time must be earned and it usually depends on a player's ability, game situations, and commitment.
- Eligibility - our select teams are not limited to our “intramural or county” league players. Players from throughout the local community are eligible to tryout and play.
- Positions - players will be placed in the positions that best help the team succeed. The coaching staff will make decisions based on team needs, an individual player’s skill set, and what is seen in practice throughout the year. Parents and players should refrain from requesting positional changes. Many select teams will have a roster slot devoted to a full-time goalkeeper.
- Games - Region 1 and EDP games are during the weekends with some weekday games. NCSL games are generally played on Sundays throughout the Washington DC metropolitan area. BBSL games are played on Sundays (Spring) and Saturdays (Fall) throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area. CMSSL games are on Saturdays and Sundays during both seasons. Teams will usually play four home games and four road games per season.
- Playing other sports – A3 leadership believes playing multiple sports is good for younger kids. A3, though its partnership with CAC, offers other sports throughout the calendar year and every kid is encouraged to play multiple sports. The coaching staffs will work to accommodate schedules, however, all players should remember that playing on a select team is a serious and year long commitment.
- Tournaments – select teams usually play in preseason and postseason tournaments. Most teams will play between four and eight tournaments per year.
- Uniforms - uniforms are purchased by the players on a two year cycle. Mandatory equipment - home jersey, road jersey, shorts, socks. Optional equipment - ball bag, track suit, etc.
- Travel time – for the four/five road games per season may exceed 60 minutes.
A3 County Teams – are for kids that are interested in recreational, yet competitive soccer. A3 county teams play in the Anne Arundel Youth Soccer Association (AAYSA) league. A3 strives to sponsor one or multiple county teams per age group based how many kids register. County teams will be placed in one of multiple divisions by AAYSA, which are usually established, by skill level, to accommodate all participating teams. The commissioner, age group coordinator, and coach will usually have a meeting to determine the appropriate placement of a team; however, the league makes the final determination.
- Commitment - county team players need only commit to the team one season (fall/spring) at a time. It is possible that teams will play indoor soccer during the winter - your coach will keep you apprised. It is important to note that teams do not carry over from season to season.
- Playing Time - coaches will attempt to ensure equal playing time for all players – in accordance with AAYSA divisional rules.
- Positions - like the select teams, players will be placed in the positions that best help the team succeed. The coaching staff based on team needs, an individual player’s skill set, and what is seen in practice through the year will designate the positions.
- Games – are usually played on Fridays and Saturdays during the Fall and Sundays during the spring.
- Uniforms - uniforms for county players are purchased by the players.
- Travel time – games are played throughout Anne Arundel County. Travel time for the four/five road games rarely exceeds 30 minutes.
How should I choose between select and county?
A3 strongly recommends that all kids attend the tryout/placement sessions so they may be evaluated with other kids in their own age group. After attending the tryout/placement sessions, the evaluators and age group coordinators will be able to determine the best team situation for all kids. If you have specific questions about your young player, you should contact our Director of Coaching.
3. How do you register players?
It is vital that parents monitor the A3 website to stay in tune with club registration information and deadlines. A3 will make every effort to accommodate all interested players. Registrations are completed at a3soccer.siplay.com.
4. How are teams formed?
Select teams are formed though a tryout/placement process in late May and June. Coaches and evaluators will base their selections on player skill, athletic ability, potential, fitness, and positive attitude demonstrated during the process. Select players will receive notification of the results within a few days after the conclusion of the last tryout/placement session. Players not called/selected for the select teams will be called later in the summer as the county teams are formed.
County teams are generally formed by skill level and total amount of players registered – especially in the fall. As previously stated, it is likely that A3 will sponsor multiple county teams across age groups. To ensure proper placement, it is imperative that everyone show up for placements. In the event there are not enough players registered in a particular age group at the county level, A3 may at it’s discretion combine two age groups in order to field a team or decline to field a team in the age group.
5. How are the age groups determined?
Age groups are determined by the United States Youth Soccer Association and cannot be modified by A3 or any other member organization. Starting with Fall 2016, all players will grouped based on their year of birth. For example, all players born in 2008 will be in the 2008 age group.
Traditionally, youth soccer clubs have determined that players should not be “playing up” above their age level unless, in the opinion of the coaches/age group coordinators (and agreed to by the commissioner) the player is an "impact player" within the older age group. A3’s best practices state that, “a player is not considered an "impact player" unless he or she is/would be one of the top players on a select or county team within the older age group”.
A3 further acknowledges that with regards to county soccer teams and for a select few players, it may be in the best interest of a player’s development to ‘play up’. In this case, A3’s coaches/coordinators/commissioner will evaluate each situation and determine what is best for everyone.
It is strongly recommended that each player tryout for teams in their correct age group.
6. How does a player develop his skills?
Structured development takes place throughout the year in practice and in games. More importantly, however, is the unstructured time the players spend with the soccer ball on their own. Playing in the backyard, school ground, garage, etc. will provide them an unlimited amount of touches. It is during this time that a player will begin to develop his creativity, dribbling, juggling, moves, and ball control. The time a player spends on his own will directly correlate to how quickly skills develop. The club has a team-first approach that calls for the players to work on their individual skills as they relate to the team concept. Coaches will ask the players to focus on proper trapping which will lead to "positive" first touches - passes, shots, dribble, etc.
Parents should focus on what takes place during practice and away from the team structure in gauging the development of a player. Game day is merely the product of the time and effort put in during practice and on their own time.
In addition, A3's soccer program works very closely with Coerver® Coaching which has become one for the largest and most respected soccer education programs in the world with an unmatched list of endorsements from national federations, professional clubs, star players and leading coaches.
7. What will it cost me?
The player registration fees are listed on the registration website and the total annual costs of the program should be considered before attending the placements. As with many soccer programs across the country, select teams are more expensive than non-select teams. Parents should be aware that similar select programs annually collect between $1,000-$5,000 per player per year.
Additional Select Team costs - example: Financial Plan
A. Team equipment (usually updated every two-three years)
i. Team bags (approximately $60)
ii. Team uniform (approximately $140)
iii. Player cleats, shin guards, etc. (approximately $80)
iv. Team equipment (approximately $35)
B. The Select teams will play four to six tournaments per calendar year
i. Most teams focus on the great competition provided by local tournaments
ii. Most select teams will play out of state tournaments, which will require overnight lodging
8. When will the placements/tryouts take place?
Our bylaws indicate that every age group will hold open tryouts every year for select teams. It is not necessary to attend all placements/tryouts but all players should plan on attending as many sessions as possible to ensure evaluators get a fair look the players. Players who are not selected for select team will likely have an additional placement session before the fall season starts in August. Each age group coordinator is responsible for setting up and announcing their own placements. Older age groups will usually have less placement sessions so it is important to monitor the A3 website for dates. Specific days and times will be announced (via e-mails, newspaper ads, flyers, etc.) during the spring.
9. Families with CAC and A3 players?
Our new Sports Sign Up registration site is shared with CAC sports but has different access points. For families that only play A3 soccer, there's nothing to follow-up on. However, for families that play A3 and other sports within CAC, the downside will be that the CAC annual membership fee (CAC AMF) will require an additional step. Those members will have to pay the CAC AMF when registering through each access point. Not to worry, the funds will be promptly refunded. The good news is that you may create both accounts with the same email address and password, so you only have to remember one set of login credentials.
10. What can we do during the winter and summer?
Our club offers indoor soccer for the younger age groups. The games take place in Crofton area elementary school gymnasiums.
During the summer, we provide the West Ham Academy ID Session for our travel players and Summer Training session for recreational players - county and World Cup.
11. What can I do to help?
Volunteers - parents can volunteer to help out in a variety of ways. For select teams, coaches will likely require parents to assist with:
- Field crew - lining the fields and tending to the corner flags
- TSL - team sportsmanship liaison
- STAR – assistant referees
- Car pools - set up car pools for players that need rides for practices or games
- First aid - ensure the team's first aid kit is always well stocked
- Phone trees - in case practices or games are cancelled
- Scorekeeper - to track the team's statistics
- Fundraisers - to raise money for tournaments or equipment
- Social coordinator - set up team functions and events
Note: all coaches receive a cheat sheet with additional guidance, direction, and policy interpretation on many of these topics.