The purpose of this page is to provide a high level, introductory overview of youth soccer in Ohio.
Different Types of Play
In the end, whether a player participates at a recreational level their entire career or decides to hop over to competitive play at some point all comes down to the individual, how quickly they decide to learn, and how comfortable they are in any given environment. There’s nothing that says ‘x’ player must play [rec or competitive] at ‘x’ point. Some players play recreationally until they are 15, then decide to play competitively. Others only ever play recreational. Still others begin playing competitively as soon as they can.
- More of a free learning, fun league environment focused on providing kids with 1-2 practices a week and a game on the weekends. A season typically runs 6-8 weeks.
- Some leagues hold an end-of-season tournament.
- Age varies, but can start as young as 3 and as old as high school students.
- Often teams are coed (boys and girls playing together).
- Typically volunteer/parent coached.
- Recreational leagues are usually in-house leagues, where teams play against other teams from the same league. Some leagues consist of various organizations or branches that will have cross play with each other (ex: Clermont Central or Miami Valley East).
- Cost is usually low, and often comes with a shirt or uniform.
- Sometimes referred to as ‘grassroots’, since participating in a recreational league is often the first experience a player has with the sport.
- Typically within a structured club environment.
- Can also be known as travel or select soccer.
- Focus is on getting better while playing the game they love and having fun.
- The number of teams per age group can vary by club. Some only have 1 team per age group….others have 4 or more. Some don’t have any teams in an age group.
- Competitive play often starts around the age of 8-9, with the idea that kids around that age come into a more competitive, structured environment hungry, matured, and prepared to improve their skills and face players of a similar skill level.
- Teams are often made up of anywhere from 9 (younger ages) to 24 (older ages) players.
- Athletes usually are offered a spot on a team after attending tryouts (typically May and June).
- Teams typically stay together for an entire seasonal year (Fall – Spring), or for multiple years.
- Often coached by licensed and/or experienced staff coaches. Sometimes these coaches also coach for a local high school or college.
- Usually 2-3 practices, sometimes more, per week with games on the weekend.
- Travel for games is common.
- Teams often participate in tournaments.
- Based on recommendations from a club Director of Coaching, or perhaps a coaches decision, teams may opt to participate in high level State-run tournaments such as State Cup or Presidents Cup.
- Winners of these tournaments earn the opportunity to play in a regional competition, and if they win that, earn a spot at the National Championships.
- Cost varies, but is higher than recreational. The additional costs go to expenses such as compensating coaches, field maintenance, field rental, referees, club staff compensation, scholarships, goals and supplies (nets, balls, pinnies, etc.) and more.
- Clubs often dress in branded gear with the club logo, and can be an additional cost.
- This could be a jersey from Nike, adidas, Puma, Joma, Under Armour and more.
Players are carded and rostered in order to verify with the league and State Association (that’s us) that they are of the eligible age. This may require an additional registration depending on how the club decides to do it.
- Players are not allowed to play down on younger teams.
- Players are carded to one team at any given time.