Each year we’re asked for information and guidance regarding tryouts, especially as the number of Clubs and options continue to grow. One recurring question from parents is “...when is the right time to consider a move to travel?”
The short answer is there is no right time, as many families find that the recreational level offers a broad spectrum of competition and years of development opportunities for their child. But for those ready or considering a move to or within the competitive system, a good place to start is the SF Soccer Fair! This is the time to begin your research.
Important to note: The governing bodies of US youth soccer state that players are free to move, without restriction, from year to year. Additionally, local associations like US Club & CalNorth prohibit tryouts or offers prior to the end of the year (please note this is different than families initiating contact with a team). They also require an environment in which families can explore their options free of intimidation. The tryout window exists to ensure that families have the necessary time to explore and consider these options.
SF Soccer Fair - The fair, hosted by the SF Rec & Park Dept., is a wonderful opportunity for clubs / teams to showcase what they offer re: teams, player development, level of coaching, fees, and supplemental programs, as well as other 'perks' such as international travel or tournament participation. The fair is Wednesday, March 4th @ the county fair building in Golden Gate Park. In the auditorium. The fair is from 6-8pm and is 'open-house' so stop by at any point in that window to talk with clubs / teams to help you research the options available for your player.
Missed the Soccer Fair? Check out our links below, and start observing practices and games.
Making a decision to play competitively and participate in the tryout process can be both exciting and stressful. While advanced players may garner immediate offers, it may take time for others to receive them as clubs and teams sort out their rosters. Don’t be discouraged if the offers don’t materialize either right away or at all, as youth soccer in San Francisco, is broad and deep with a home for all children. Should you not find a suitable option for your player, we can likely facilitate a placement with a great team. Also, rather than disbanding and having players split up to different competitive teams, if your team would like to move up from Rec to Upper House, that is also possible.
If you have any questions about the process, about options - or if you encounter situations that are in conflict with the tryout policies, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and good luck at tryouts!
Procedure for the Tryout Window
For prospective competitive players or players considering a move within competitive, we recommend you visit the SF Soccer Fair or the club websites to obtain the requirements, procedures and details for tryouts. Depending on a club or team’s policies, existing players may not be required to attend tryouts to remain with their team. While all players are eligible to attend tryouts of their choosing and make a decision within the allotted time free of threats, harassment or punishment, it doesn’t mean that they will be immune from it. Parents that encounter this behavior may want to carefully consider if that particular club is a good fit for their child.
Tryout Window Note
Whilst the window spans several weeks, San Francisco has one designated tryout weekend, which means that attending tryouts for multiple clubs may not be possible, with tryouts being held a various / similar times in different parts of the city. So, the fair is for you to begin your research on prospective clubs / teams and identify your preferred choices. Between now Tryout Weekend, current Recreational players may participate in Upper House or Travel Team practices. Current Upper House players may observe only.
Clubs and teams may make offers to both new and existing players starting on the first day of the tryout window. Once an offer is made it cannot be rescinded until the end of the tryout window. Families, both new and existing, can make a deposit at anytime during the tryout window, but cannot be required to before the deadline in order to hold a spot. While offers made during the tryout window may not be made with contingencies (payment required sooner than deadline, verbal confirmation), this is not true after the tryout window, when teams may be looking to fill limited spots within a specific timeframe. And as most deposits are non-refundable, be aware that if you change your mind about an offer you’ve accepted, you’re not likely to get a refund as clubs will base subsequent offers on how many others have already been accepted.
Based on the size of some clubs and the total number of clubs in the City, it’s very likely your child will receive an offer somewhere. Families can expect to get some indication of interest and perhaps a formal offer during or after the tryout process. Often times players may be invited back after tryouts for additional evaluation. Sometime offers may not come for a few weeks as teams sort out their rosters.
There are two types of offers:
If you receive a general offer, you may wish to inquire whether the offer is for a new or existing team, who the coach is and how many players are on the team. Sometimes a club hopes to form a team but they don’t sign enough players in that particular age group. Often this is not a problem as the club has other teams in that age group, but there may be instances where a proposed team doesn’t materialize.
We also suggest being respectful of the process by communicating honestly with clubs/teams and not offering false hope. This can lead a club to believe they have enough players to form a team, only to fall short and have to inform other families that a team is no longer viable. And while it can be exciting to receive multiple offers, don’t try out with a club/team that you know you have no intention of joining or to see how many offers your child can obtain.
GUIDANCE : TRYOUTS & COMPETITIVE PLAYanJ
SFYS recommends: Factors to consider when looking at a soccer club.
Cost : Club soccer in San Francisco can routinely cost over $1,500 per year, per child, with some being considerably more or less. You will need to contact prospective clubs for prices / financial aid. However, here are some questions to ask RE cost:
- Is financial aid available and what are the qualifications / requirements?
- Registration fee to the league of play
- Uniforms / gear, such as bags, training kit etc.
- Additional leagues, such as summer / winter / futsal
New team or Existing team? You may be interested to know if your child is being offered a spot on a team with a lot of returning players or if it’s a new team with many players new to the club.
Practice Location : While it’d be great to have a consistent practice location, SF Rec & Park utilizes a lottery system which results in teams being located at a variety of fields from season to season. It’s important to realize that only teams U12 and older are scheduled on full-sized pitches. Teams U11 and younger often practice either on the small side areas of complexes, or on small field areas around the city. While teams may frequently practice at the same location over a period of time, this is never guaranteed.
Practice Frequency: We recommend clarifying how often the team will practice. Typically it’s one or two days. Some teams that have secured access to non-city fields may offer a third day.
Playing League: Here we list the pathway that competitive players from San Francisco traditionally take as they progress through various leagues.
Who’s the coach? Some players will be made offers on teams with longstanding coaches, others onto teams where the coach is likely known. In some cases, it will be determined later. If this is an important factor in your decision, feel free to inquire as to if a coach has been assigned to your child’s team.
Coach Licensing : You should feel comfortable asking what a coach’s license is if it is not listed on the club’s website. In a few cases, coach or DOC licensing is a factor in whether a club or team qualifies to play in a specific league.
Does the club handle all of the administration?Many clubs have administrators while others use team managers (parents) to handle some of the administration.
Goalkeeper / Supplemental Training : most clubs do offer specialized keeper training or supplemental training, such as SAQ, so you should feel comfortable to ask "what else are you offering my child?"
SFYS and Tryouts
There is no centralized place to find tryout times and locations. Refer to the approved team and club flyers for more information and confirm with the team or club you are interested in trying out for when and where tryouts are. HIGHLY Recommend attending team practices in advance of tryouts to get a sense of coaching and playing styles, so that your players only attends tryouts that make sense for them.
1/ SFYS does not endorse any club. If you see our logo on a flyer, it is because that club has teams that participate in our SF Youth Soccer Leagues.
2/ Reminder: SFYS Player Registration costs for SFYS house league recreational and competitive play is only $70-$100 for Fall and $55-$80 for Spring (Financial Aid available). Any charges above that are for team or club benefits (coaching, uniforms, etc.), which vary - please be clear of SFYS charges.
Players may register for ONE TEAM only. Need Clarification about what that means? Click Here. This rule applies to All Players at all levels - but all Travel Players will have to sign a commitment form confirming your understanding of this city rule.
Reminder: Where you play is largely up to you! Make sure the team or club is the right fit before making the commitment to play. Once registered on a team, there is no guarantee of transfer, so be certain that the team is right for your player.
It is not possible to attend all the tryouts during the tryout weekend, so, Do Your Research.