Player Development: Playing Up

The term “playing up” in sports means to play with a higher level team than the one you are currently with. Perhaps your child has been excelling in soccer and finds herself or himself the most skilled player on the team by far and the coach suggests your child may be better suited for a more challenging team. This could mean playing with older children or with a tougher league. However, if the opportunity and decision arises for your child, you should carefully consider how this change could impact them. To help you make this decision, the Orlando Pride enthusiasts at QueensCast have arranged this discussion to help you see all sides of the issue.

As adults, it might be easy to make a snap decision and say, “of course my child should take the challenge.” She/he’s talented and should be practicing with talented children so she/he can learn and grow with them. However, this is youth soccer we are talking about, and there’s more to consider with playing up than just taking on a new challenge.

For one thing, you should ask yourself what is motivating your child to play soccer. Do they play to become a powerful soccer player or do they enjoy going to practice to see their friends? If your player is dedicated to improving their soccer skills above all else, playing up may be the right choice, but if they want to be with their friends and learn soccer together, then playing up may not be advisable.

If you decide to have your child leave their current team to play up on a new team, your child could lose motivation when separated from their friends and want to cease playing altogether. Also, keep in mind how the old team will react to the departure.

If it was your child’s current coach that suggested the change, then it may be advisable to play up, but if the suggestion came from elsewhere it’s a good idea to discuss the possibility with your child’s current coach. The coach would be able to help you determine if a change in teams would be beneficial or detrimental.

There are many factors to consider when deciding if your child should play up or not, so don’t make any snap decisions. Playing up can be a great experience and work out well for a child, but it could also result in a loss of interest. There is no obvious choice because every child is different, so talk with you coach and do some thinking about what would be best for your child. Note that US Youth Soccer has implemented the birth year registration mandates as set forth by the US Soccer Federation. For more youth soccer advice, follow our podcast on the Orlando Pride.