CONTACT US

A3 FAQ

Frequently Answered Questions

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 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 less than $300 per year. How do we keep our costs down? We don't charge for field rentals or pay exorbitant coaches fees.
  • A3 has a unique partnership with world-class West Ham 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, softball, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, etc. 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 and even beyond.
  • 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 Premier and County teams?

There are two types of soccer teams sponsored by A3 County and Premier.

A3 Premier teams are for kids who possess above-average skills, determination, and competitive spirit. The A3 Premier 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), Central Maryland Soccer Association (CMSA) and Central Maryland Short-Sided League (CMSSL), the area's premier youth soccer leagues. A3 Premier 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 Premier teams sometimes called travel or select soccer? Our teams are all competitively selected and travel to games throughout the DC or Baltimore metro regions (therefore "travel").

  • Commitment - Premier 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 read the Premier Handbook and follow directions.
  • Playing Time - players must understand that playing time on a Premier team is not guaranteed. Playing time must be earned and it usually depends on a player's ability, game situations, and commitment.
  • Eligibility - our Premier 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.
  • 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 Premier team is a serious and year long commitment.
  • Tournaments - Premier teams usually play in preseason and postseason tournaments. Most teams will play between four and six 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 Premier 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.
Like most clubs in Anne Arundel County, we create county teams based on the total number of registrations. Every age group is dependent on the number of kids that register to play in a given season. There is a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes to make things work and it's more of an art rather than science. We work with the numbers and do our best to create competitive teams. Although we many times have to move players around, we're very proud that over the years, we've rarely turned away a player. County coaches are the quintessential volunteer coaches and many step up because no one else would. We're very thankful for their willingness to raise their hands to serve as coaches and role models. Parents should acknowledge that practice schedules are made based on the requests of the coaches and their respective schedules.

How should I choose between Premier 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.

4. How are teams formed?

Premier 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. Premier 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 Premier 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 Soccer Federation and cannot be modified by A3 or any other member organization. Starting in fall 2016, all players were grouped based on their year of birth instead of school year. We would like to reiterate that it was not a club decision but one we had to implement.

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 Premier or county team within the older age group".

A3 further acknowledges that with regards to county soccer teams and for a few Premier 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 Challenger 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, Premiert teams are more expensive than recreational teams.

Futures - costs are per season - fees are approximately $110 per player and include a free uniform.

County - costs are per season - fees are approximately $140 per player.

Premier teams - annual (includes Spring & Fall) registration fees are between $585 and $735 based on league and level of play. The fees cover coaching stipend, adminstrative costs, referee assignor fees, referee fees, sanctioning body fees, rosters, cards, a tournament, field maintenance, etc.

Additional Premier team costs (decided per team)

A. Team equipment (usually updated every two years)

i. Team bags (approximately $60)

ii. Team uniforms (approximately $140)

iii. Player cleats, shin guards, etc.

iv. Team equipment

B. The Premier teams will play four to six tournaments per calendar year

i. Most teams focus on the great competition provided by local tournaments

ii. Most Premier teams will play out of state tournaments, which will require overnight lodging

8. When will the placements/tryouts take place?

Every age group will hold open tryouts every year for Premier 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. 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. How does A3 make decisions to close fields and cancel practices/matches?

Soccer is a sport which requires a quality playing surface and so keeping the fields in good shape is a high priority for the club. The decision to close fields (for practices or matches) is usually a collaborative effort between our facilities managers, coaches, and open source research. We take weather reports and forecasts very seriously and do our best to make sure we have a good understanding of what's happening with regard to the weather. For practices, we usually try to have a decision made and posted on Twitter by 2:00 pm. Games are a bit different as the leagues all have different requirements for cancellations. Some require a 2 hour notice, others a 3 hour notice, and some have an actual time (say 9:00 am) to call in the decisions. That requires that a club official go out to Bell Branch as early as 6:00 am on game days to make a decision. That helps explain why sometimes games are called off at 6:00 am but the sun is out at 1:00 pm. We make the best decision possible based on the information available to us at the time.

10. What if someone can't locate their Team Connect invites codes and it needs to be resent?

Coaches or Team Manager can resend it from Team Connect. The option to resend the code can be found by pulling up the team roster and selecting the member to view their profile. Either press the "Resend Invite Email", or if you are concerned that the email is not reaching its destination (email blockers, etc.), copy the complete link in the box and send manually to the intended recipient, along with the invite code

11. 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.

12. 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
  • Scorekeeper - to track the team's statistics
  • Fundraisers - to raise money for tournaments or equipment
  • Social coordinator - set up team functions and events
 

SPONSORS & PARTNERS