Here’s a recent email I got regarding soccer camps:
My son is 12 and [has been] in club soccer for 3 years. He loves the game and is in the top 25% of his team (not top 5%). He plays wing back right or left. Is short, fast and technical.
My questions to you were –
1. What camps can he attend in US or overseas that you could recommend. He is attending No. 1 soccer camp and a one week camp in Paris, Clairefontaine; in addition to several weeks with his club in town this summer.
2. The local academy team (Bolts and Revs) have so so programs. What are the alternatives for my son
The truth is I haven’t deeply danced with the soccer camp market, so I don’t have recommendations.
I guess the most important question is: What are you looking to get out of a camp?
- Have fun?
- Social growth?
- Be ‘discovered’?
- Other things?
Of course we’d like to say: “all of it”. But that’s just not likely.
Numbers 1 and 2 are easy and pretty much taken care of by all.
This is a tough one. Because it is a function of the player’s current level, the level of the coaches putting on the camp, and whether the camp is expertly architected to transmit a real and lasting lesson.
Camps that I’ve seen, or brushed up against, in Southern Cali I’d never be able to recommend with a straight face. And I’m certain that would generally hold true anywhere in the country.
Think of it this way: I’ve always said >99% of all coaches aren’t capable at a high level. So what are the chances that coaches/administrators architecting and executing a camp, are? Maybe for the lower end player … maybe.
But like everything, the most important thing is for you to have clear objectives. What exactly are you looking to get out of a service?
Beyond the Ball and Grass
In a situation like the Barcelona Summer Camp I’m supporting, this is what I see as the major plus:
Experiencing a foreign country’s football – its people, its atmosphere, its philosophy and instruction, is something I think every American soccer kid and parent should get exposed to. It may very well be a requirement for anyone aspiring to truly high level play.
What do you guys think about camps?
Some Coach says
You hit the nail with this. I am not big into camps as well.
But the last point about exploring the soccer culture in another country, I think its worth it. For any American player aspiring to go to the higher level, he/ she needs to get exposed.
For players aged 11-14, the summer can be used to stay connected with the game, stay sharp, and a good camp with similar level players with good coaching can make hit the spot (is the money spent worth it?). But where are these camps?
Do the math, are you going to be bankrupt to send your kid to camp, or its a pocket money ?
Camps are the Cash Cow for most coaches in this country. Its their piece of the pie that will not let you mess it up.
You do the research, you know your kid.
I understand the limitations described above. My boys did have a positive experience at a summer Ajax camp and indeed much of this was cultural. http://www.ajaxcampsenclinics.nl/camps.php
Its a day camp- 5 days, no sleep over. They trained at the famous DeToekomst ” The Future” facilty. Several turf fields, nice clubhouse and lockers..etc. Its about 28 hours of training for 300 euroes. The training is Ajax based training so its SSG’s, ball almost always on ground ..etc. But you must remember its open training so the level of play is mixed. Just because they are Dutch kids it doesn’t mean its Ajax academy kids. At the U-13 toU-16 level there were some special players. But one of my sons at the U-12 age group was the strongest player in his group so that in my opinion was a drawback because my hope was for him to see how the ceiling is?
Even so, many positives and I’d echo the cultural benefit too..soccer and otherwise. The trainers spoke Dutch but also English if need be. We stayed in Amsterdam and took the train out (15-20 minutes), then my wife and I could return to the city and enjoy the day in Amsterday while the boys trained.
We had reasons to be in Nederland for that summer but I did alter the itinerary so boys could have this experience. It connected the boys even deeper to a soccer culture apart from their US experiences.
Gary Kleiban says
Thank you for sharing!
NoVa Mike says
Most are day care 1st, soccer 2nd. Some exceptions but you really have to ask around to find them, and even then its trial and error. Quality coaching is just 1/2 of it though. As the posts above allude to, it is just as important to make sure the level of players are high. If it is a camp full of kids who are just there for day care (i.e. – horseback camp last week, soccer camp this week, science camp next week …) there’s nothing wrong with that but any reader of this blog will be sorely disappointed and feel like they are throwing their money away.
It is a cash cow for the coaches but I don’t begrudge them that. They are professionals and they need to make a living at it. If doing a couple of camps helps pay the bills and keeps them going and still in the game, then from where I sit that’s a good thing.
I think an inherent problem with most camps is the time span. Many are 9 – 3 pm and at any age it would be very difficult to keep a good level of intensity up for that long. When intensity drops far enough then at some point the training level deteriorates to the point where you wonder if your player is getting better or worse in that environment. This is usually about the time when I use my lunch break to stop by and see how things are going. 😉 . Would be far better to train 2 hrs hard in the morning, then come back and do another 2 hrs hard in the early evening, but that doesn’t exactly fit into mom and dad’s work schedule so it rarely happens that way.
On the other hand if you do your research it is possible (at least around here) to find a few that are worthwhile. Even without leaving the US it can be beneficial to expose your player to different trainers and a different mix of kids than he/she is used to playing with.
A final problem though, is that even if you find a good camp, after doing it once or twice it will have outlived its usefulness. They almost all follow the same curriculum over and over again (Day 1: dribbling & 1v1; Day 2: change of direction; Day 3: passing & receiving …) and while there is obviously value in repetition, they are starting from ground 0 with a new group of kids every time, so there is no progression.
Gary Kleiban says
Thank you for the good break down MIke!
NoVa Mike – you mention that you think there are a few camps in the area (i.e. – Northern Virginia) that you think are worthwhile. Are there any you would recommend? I am currently looking for a camp(s) for my son.
NoVa Mike says
All these I feel comfortable personally vouching for: Joga SC w/ FC Utrecht: http://fcutrechtnorthamericanacademy.com/Camps_files/Joga%20SC%20Camp%20Flyer.pdf
Paul Ngend: http://www.npcsoccer.com/node/18
Gavin Stevens: http://soccerrevolutionacademy.com/summer-creativity-camp.html
Kephern Fuller – street soccer camp http://www.jogasoccerinc.com/street-soccer-camps.html
Sean Kuykendall: http://www.kuykendallacademy.com/home/698652.html
Eddie Lima: http://www.itouchsoccer.com/international-touch-soccer-program-summer-academy.shtml
All of the above are interested in finding and helping kids with professional aspirations, and not just making money or running day care. Still, a summer camp is a summer camp, so all of the comments above apply.
We make our son a deal during the summer. He can continue to go to training every night, and do a couple of camps as a treat, but only as long as he is willing to complete 1 – 1 1/2 hours of training on his own every morning after swim practice. If he wants a break, he doesn’t have to do it, but then he can’t go to training that night. I give him an assortment of 10-15 minute assignments (juggling, dribbling drills, moves repetitions, wall passes, shooting, etc..) to choose from so he has some control. I saw a lot more progress last summer during those weeks than I did on the 2 or 3 weeks when he went to camp.
Dr Loco says
“He can continue to go to training every night, and do a couple of camps as a treat, but only as long as he is willing to complete 1 – 1 1/2 hours of training on his own every morning after swim practice”
Many parents/kids would consider this child abuse. I couldn’t enforce this, no way perhaps in a communist country.
El Memo says
Where do you draw the line then? Should a parent just buy a ball and let the kid play and learn only as much as they want to on their own? Should a parent not pay a club, not drive them to games/training, not pay camps, not pay for clinics, or additional individual training, etc., Or, as NoVa Mike indicates, have the kid train on their own as an expectation and requirement for rewards. Note: I’m not agreeing nor disagreeing, just provoking thought/discussion. Maybe a topic already discussed in depth inprevious blogs or one for Gary to explore. There is a lot of bloggers that are parents and some parent/coach. You sound like a coach and not a parent. Both have different goals in mind and one needs to try to understand both. As Gary would say “context.”
Dr Loco says
Give kids independence not more adult supervision.
Funny how they don’t really have skateboarding, biking, video game summer camps. Perhaps maybe in suburbia were it’s a forgotten art.
If you have to send kids to a camp to learn something it’s a bit disappointing.
NoVa Mike says
Haha. Blame Keph. In order to be part of his Joga Pro Player program (small group extra training for top 2-3 per age group) he requires players to train at least 1 hr every day with a ball – in addition to regular practices and street soccer. He also required everyone 8 and older to get 1000 juggles by June 1st or they would be kicked out of the program. Maybe he’s the real “Loco”.
But you’re right. Why teach kids the lesson that if they want something bad enough, they are going to have to work for it? Far better to teach them that if they want something bad enough, all they have to do is ask mommy and daddy to pay for it, and they don’t have to do anything on their own to earn it.
Just curious – how many 8 year olds passed the juggle more than 1000 times test?
NOVA Mike says
1 broke 1300 before his 8th birthday. The other 8 year old is knocking on the door with close to 700. Of the four 9 year olds, 1 dropped out after the target was announced, 1 made it, and the other 2 are in the 600s. I think one of the 2 ten year olds, and both 11 year olds were already there.
Within the 1st few weeks, everyone who stuck with it (those poor abused children) at least doubled or tripled their record. Amazing what happens when expectations are set high.
Back on topic, you really have to be careful when signing your kids up for camps, if you are looking for anything other than day care. There are some really bad ones too. One morning at a self-described “elite”, very expensive camp, I counted a grand total of 11 touches of the ball in 3 hours. The rest of the time was spent standing in line during “soccer olympics”. When the parents show up at 3, the kids are 20 min into scrimmaging and looking great – because they haven’t done anything all day. Total sham. Thus the “child abuse” as an alternative. Spend 1 1/2 hours doing drills and juggling in the backyard in the morning, hang out with friends at the pool the rest of the day, and be fresh for the team training or street soccer that evening.
Dr Loco says
Moderate physical and mental pain is healthy for development. Try to tell that to spoiled brat kids and their parents. No one ever reached excellence without hard work and suffering.
If parents could they would demand air conditioning at summer camps.
Thanks for recommending soccer camps in NOVA. I wonder what clubs in NOVA, particularly north of the beltway (Reston/Herndon/Great Falls/Sterling/Ashburn area), play possession style of soccer? My son will be playing U11 next year. Many thanks.
Out of those clubs, Ashburn is probably your best bet based on the clubs my U10 teams (Alexandria) have played. We have not played Great Falls, but their coach is good.
Rich, thanks so much for your input! By the way, your team’s blog is very good – we would have definitely considered trying out for your team if we lived in Alexandria area, but NOVA rush hour traffic is a killer.
We attended the Utrecht camp. It was good, but there were no kids in the older age categories.
If your kid is over 11 years-of-age, be sure to confirm with the camp organizers that there will be others there.
It was a good experience for the younger players.
I think camp is great, if you can find a good one. Players need repetition to achieve mastery, and camp allows that, especially if you do it week after week in the summer. There are plenty of topics to learn, if the coach is good enough to create variety while maintaining continuity. Also, skill work doesn’t have to be exhausting, so you can easily fill the day with soccer.
I don’t like the big glossy camps on beautiful university soccer fields. You’re just paying for the name brand, and with so many kids, there’s a lot of wasted time. They’re also more expensive, so you can only afford to do it one or two weeks in the summer, which doesn’t really help that much.
My son goes to coach Nico Marinez’s camp in Santa Monica. It’s cool near the beach, so the kids stay fresh. Nico is a coerver coach, so he emphasizes individual ball skills, of which he has endless exercises for the kids. Seriously, no BS, no day-care mentality. Nico is serious about teaching (and I know several kids that he coached that ended up with Brian and Gary). email@example.com.
Could anyone recommend a camp in Mexico? My son is in a spanish immersion program, I’d love to find a camp that would allow him to practice spanish while learning soccer.
Gary Kleiban says
Thank you for that Seth.
Hopefully your son is working the repetitions on his own?
On the soccer side, camps can’t develop a player. What they should do is introduce insightful and useful homework for the player.
My son went to the first FBSCOLA CAMP barcelona camp in Glendale Ca about 2 years ago. It was great, and not very expensive at the time. It was like $350.00 dollares for 5 days and two 3 hour sessions a day. This is the only camp my son has ever attended and it was great. They never ran the same drills and practices and allowed a scrimmage at the end of every day to display tiki taka soccer. Coaching staff top notch. its more expensive now and they only do one 3hr session per day for $600 dollares, if you can afford it, go for it
My son did this camp last summer but we are ambivalent about repeating. The Escola coaches were great but there were only two and the “local” coaches were variable. The sessions were nearly identical to the training on his club team (hopefully that means we picked the right club) but on the plus side he played with some of the top kids in our area. I am concerned, however, that they have “jumped the shark.” The cost for the basic sessions is higher, they added the elite session at $600 for a total of 10 hours, and they are dangling a carrot that some kids will be chosen to pay their own way to a week at the Escola in Barcelona. Seems like marketing and $$$ over content.
I am curious if summer soccer camps are a US phenomena. Do academy kids in other countries even bother or do they spend their vacation time playing pick up street ball with their friends?
ASO, yes I noticed the steep price change. It was there first camp ever and they had 3 escola coaches, plus local coaches. That camp was 30 hours + a lunch per $350, Im sure the success of their camps have had an influence on the hike on prices. Like I said, that has been the only camp my son has ever attended, and will probably never attend any other, unless they are free. My son got lots out of it, a couple of those coaches really liked him and gave him lots of feedback throughout the camp.
after being involve in soccer for a while and have seen so many training and camps,i can assure that our camp in barcelona is different and we are committed to have the best soccer experience with great coaches .
our camp is july 28-aug 3
I’ve changed my view on camps over the last couple of years.
I have done camps for 7 years now. I think it’s GREAT for the things you outlined, no doubt. But if you want development…blah.
So, what I have tried to establish is “pseudo-academies” where it’s more like a couple of days a week and long-term development can be seen. So you can have the day-care, fun, learning, social growth, etc. throughout the summer while also seeing the development.
Camps are also HUGE cost and time commitments. My “pseudo-academies” idea can be less money and time commitments because they are tailored to schedules and based on budgets of people. Soccer should not be limited to white-collared people. No reason to spend $300-1000+ for a week-long camp (or 3 days).
While this is my view…the one great thing that camps can do, that I firmly believe is team camps are great bonding experiences. If nothing else is gained, the team going together away from everything and everyone else is much needed.
Good post. Thanks.
My 13-yr-old is going to camp, “pick-up camp” He’ll be playing lots of pickup ball vs kids his age and men sometimes along with some footwork/shooting drills of his choice to further improve his ball skills. Self motivation will be his key during the summer! He’s been playing/practicing w his club from fall-spring.
Dr Loco says
International camps in the US are good for exposing players to different coaches from outside the US. They show players different ways of doing things. Few players get scouted. Mainly advertising for international club.
Local club sponsored camps are primarily daycare and a means to recruit players from other teams and neighboring clubs.
If you have to resort to summer camps most likely you don’t have what it takes to make it big. Parents just want to justify club soccer by spending more time and money on soccer camps. The more money they throw at their kids the better they will get.
Everything depends on what you want for your kid and his level.
If he wants to have fun, make friends and go site seeing, you are lucky; most camps (specially the pro teams) are like that. Whatever they tell you, that’s what they are. That’s tru in the US and in Europe.
There are some teams and High level coaches that organize training courses that attract a lot of high level players, but many of them conflict with school schedules for U.S. players.
There are few here and there that are demanding and if you go during the right session you will have good level players (in Europe)
And then there are one or two camps that are very exclusive and attrack high level European academy players. Those are not usually advertised in the U.S. and your kid would need to be very high level to even be admitted to attend (money alone won’t get you in).
I don’t think summer camps are the best place to “get exposed” unless you have already made arrangements with scouts to see your kid and the other attendees will be high caliber players.
I would recomend some but I work with a lot of different training centers and pro teams that do both “fun” camps and high level camps. I ususally make a recomendation to a parent based of what they are trying to accomplish and what their kid can actually able to handle.
These people trying to advertise camps in Europe….saying that “only academy players” are attending are so full of wind. NONE of the academy players even go to these camps. They play an 11 month season and by the end of it they are mandated to rest…NOT do camps…which are all day long. Anyone who says otherwise has a hidden agenda so they can draw unsuspecting kids into camps for big money. And by the way..FCB Escola camps are not quality camps…nor are any of the other big clubs camps. They are meant to provide a community enrichment service for children and market the club to make money. Private camps in Europe claiming to have only academy kids is simply a marketing scheme to people who don’t know any better and will chase a dream for their child no matter what the cost.
For another data point, my kid did the Barcelona regular camp in New York City in July. They have a regular camp during the day, and an elite camp in the evening. It was somewhat disappointing — fun for the kids but training consisted of 10 good local coaches supervising groups of 10 kids, with 3 young Barca coaches circulating around giving pointers. We know the local coaches and have trained with them in other programs, so there was not too much “Barca” in the camp, or much point in us going. The camp holds out a carrot of sending two kids from each city where the camp is run to Barcelona for an Escola tournament next year (expenses paid by the parent). We would not do the basic camp again unless they brought over a lot more Barca coaches. But I’d love to hear from anyone who has done one of the elite camps, which are supposed to be taught only by Barca coaches, so I assume are much different.
My Son has been to several camps. Overall I would say the best thing to come from going to a camp is the experience. Learning that you are going into a foreign environment where you may not know a soul, and that you will come out of it unscathed and may have even made some good friends. This translate to
confidence in life and that translates to confidence on the pitch. I even encourage people to find camps that are a couple of hours away where there will be no teammates or buddies attending if possible. When it comes to high level camps… I recommend looking for ID camps. In the summer many of big overseas clubs will come to the US to basically scout. Clubs like Dinamo Zagreb, West Ham United and more hold these ID camps. Sometimes if you player is at a high level and already has a pretty good resume via ODP, PDP, or id2 etc etc. Or even film that shows his play… you can send that and either get a discount or in for free. We have done it. They want to see your kid. At these camps one of the first questions they will ask on your reg form is if you have dual citizenship. Because they are basically scouring the US for players right now and having a EU passport is very helpful. Over all, like is said before. The confidence gained by going into a foreign situation is worth the price if they meet the challenge and come out with a good attitude.
My son was invited to West Ham National Id camp after attending the local Id camp and I would appreciate any first hand feedback on it’s worth, in particular with regard to skills development. On the one hand it seems like a great opportunity on the other, a lot of $ to get him there for 3 days of camp at age 11. If he is really that good (and I waver whether he is or not) it seems more worthwhile to get him a authentic experience training in London for a week. I am not sure if the Nat Id camp is a necessary step to get there but don’t want to burn any bridges know that he has made it this far. He LOVED the local id camp and said he would run away from home to go to the National camp….
Also… here is a link to many camps.
Massachusetts Overnight Girls Soccer Camp says
Good post. There are many factors to consider when researching a summer soccer camp. Thanks for posting.
I’ve worked as a coach at many dozens of collegiate camps across the country. They serve a couple of purposes: daycare for little ones, and recruiting exposure for players looking to play in college. That’s it. Nobody gets any better, even if there are knowledgeable and enthusiastic coaches running things. The player-coach ration is poor and there are too many administrative headaches weighing down the daily routine. The players also get overworked. In most cases, they are on the pitch TOO long, too often, in blazing heat. By the third day, everyone is worn out.
I’ll make an exception for SOME goalkeeper camps, as they do provide a technical foundation that kids not exposed to specific goalkeeper coaching may have never had.
Gary Kleiban says
Thank you for chiming in Justin.
I happen to agree.
El Memo says
I’m not sure which camps are out there for players “to get noticed.” I imagine few, if any. They are a money making tool, first and foremost. There are some where coaches prepare themselves and really try to teach concepts. Very, very few – most have the kids play “World Cup” which they should be doing in the playground. Camps are like trying to eat for a month in one sitting. The human mind works best when assimilating / digesting information with time. I’m not saying years, but certain concepts take time, if not them making them habits certainly does. (Maybe older players can get more bang for their money) You are better off finding a good coach. Do camps if you’ve got extra money and nothing to do. We’ve made a sport for the masses too expensive in this country. Another problem to discuss in another post for sure.
John Pranjic says
Attended an ‘elite’ college ID camp last night. 160 players – 7 coaches. Of the seven coaches, only one was a head coach, from a D2 college, I think (not sure on that one). Two of the coaches were actually senior players at the school. I believe it was about $600 to register. They do ‘triple day’ sessions for three days.
One of the coaches even said to me that coaching camps are a way for ‘assistant coaches’ to supplement their income. Camps in general.. are a business. Very few are educational from a soccer standpoint. More like survival of the fittest for the players and a weekend of practicing your coaching for the young coaches.
And don’t get me started on what the overwhelmingly prevalent demographic was out there.
I overheard a kid say that he left one residential camp earlier that morning and drove all day to attend this particular residential camp that evening. Over 400 miles of driving between sessions!
I could go on forever. I’ll stop there.
Dr Loco says
Some parents think the more they pay for a camp the better their kid will learn.
Here are the best soccer camps I have seen from Dinamo Zagreb. Their main purpose is to send talent back to Croatia for serious player development. They are surprisingly successful at taking American kids.
Notice players dancing to music. Some parents might get upset that no learning is taking place.
Memo, I should have been more specific. Most colleges hold ‘ID’ camps, where they invite prospects – players previously identified – onto campus for a camp, mainly for purposes of recruiting. It lets the prospects get a look at the facilities and lets the coaching staff evaluate the players. This is different from the typical summer camp – I should have noted that in my original post. I am a current assistant coach at an ACC school. Most of the schools in this and other major conferences hold these ID camps.
El Memo says
No problem. I did not mean to disagree with you. I’m saying from my experience but I haven’t dealt with the college years of a soccer player. I understand.
I did take my 6 yr old to a college camp several years ago and it was a waste of time. Again, not your “prospect” camp you describe but a youth camp ran by a university. The best thing coming out of the camp was the realization that “we were on our own.”
@Justin… 100% agree! I was actually invited to help out at a large university’s camp here in the Midwest, so I would hopefully bring my best club player with me (who the university is recruiting hard). I know from many years of experience that MOST camps are money grabs and glorified day care.
What advice would you guys give to your players to get better in the summer (pseudo off-season) other than working on their game on their own? I’ve been saying find a quality coach and get 1on1 or small group training… Is this the best? Any suggestions would be helpful
This is off topic but related…
@ Nova: Hardly a “cash cow” (re: Soccer camps) for Coaches.
My husband was sought out to run the camps a few times due to his credentials (named top keeper out of high school, soccer scholarship, played professional, coached college team to national championship). There was little money but he loved working with the kids. He is a teacher and a Soccer Coach at school (where he makes a whopping $3,000 from Sept-February….under minimum wage….as Coach). So I would agree with your comment on “hardly blaming a Coach” for wanting to make some money at the soccer camps 🙂 !
After reading all of this.. I guess I am confused and I thought I was very proud… Here is our story;
We have what we think is a pretty good player …He is 7, a sometimes timid, not a ball hog but with superb passing accuracy, ball control and great awareness of positioning — we have been working with him individually since we was 3 yrs old. So we took him to FC Barcelona’s camp this past year, got invited to this year’s easter camp in BCN – which we were happily surprised and proud.. BUT, this invite/honor is super expensive $$$$ per person!!! And while we have committed to make it happen – it certainly a lot of dinero — So are we suckers? Did we buy into the whole FC Barca thing? I am not naive but reading this blog makes me really question myself. I would hope they picked him out of 3400 kids because they saw something special… but how do we continue this journey? And where do we go from here…???
Hi: The Barcelona camp picks 48 kids and doesn’t do it solely on talent/quality.
I’m not saying your child isn’t a great 7 year old, but that camp uses criteria like location, position, who said yes first, etc. Obviously they are looking at kids who stood out to them in some way.. At the end of the day, people are paying approx $2,000 per person (at least $4,000 because the kid needs a parent with them) to go to a non competitive soccer tournament for less than a week.
Uninvited Company says
Here are some questions for you to ask about their program, which fall into six different areas.
1. Player Selection
Do you have any pre-requisites for players that you accepting for the summer camp? For the individual player experience?
What level of player are you targeting?
How will you ensure a high level of play at the camp?
Will you turn anyone down?
If you are targeting “elite” players, how do you define that?
If you are targeting “technical” players, how do you define that?
Will players apply for a slot and then be notified of acceptance/non-acceptance, or will the slots be distributed on a first-come first-served basis?
What sort of instruction is being provided? Technical/skills training? Tactical training? Position-specific training? Fitness/kinetics training?
Will the same type and level of instruction be provided to all of the players? Or will they be sorted by age, size, ability, or position?
Who is providing the instruction? What are their qualifications? Do the instructors speak fluent English? What will the ratio be of instructors to players?
Is there a specific plan for the training, or will it be free-flowing based on the needs/skills of the players?
If there is a specific plan, is there a syllabus or schedule?
What is the goal of the instruction being provided? To improve certain skills? To raise awareness of certain tactical elements? To find and correct flaws? To focus on playing a certain style? To evaluate players? To scout/identify players for European youth academies?
How much (if any) of the instruction will be classroom based?
Will the players be scouted? If so, by whom, or by what entity, and for what purpose?
Will the players be evaluated? If so, on what criteria/skills? To whom will the evaluation(s) be provided?
Where specifically will the training take place?
Will an athletic trainer or some type of medical professional be present during training and be available to provide treatment for basic injuries? If a more serious injury occurs, what will be done for treatment? Will players who are injured during the training be eligible to receive a full or partial refund?
Will training supplies and facilities be available? If so, what will they include (e.g. athletic tape, compression bandages, ice, cold packs, ice bath, etc.)?
What is the plan for handling inclement weather?
Will water, sports drinks be provided at the training facility? If so, will there will a separate charge for that?
What training gear/soccer equipment is being provided, and what will players need to bring?
Will laundry service for soccer/training gear be provided? If not, will laundry facilities be available? Will there be any additional fees associated with using such a service or such facilities?
How will the days be structured? Will players eat together, stay at the same location, and/or have scheduled non-training activities together?
What level of supervision (if any) will be provided during off-hours?
At what point will the responsibility for logistics fall to the program? Upon arrival at the airport or rail depot in Barcelona? Upon arrival at the hotel/residence hall being used to house the players? Upon arrival at the training facility?
During the course of the stay, will any other logistics be the responsibility of the players (e.g. to-and-from the training facility, to other events (professional match, group dinner, etc.)?
Where will players be housed? What sort of housing will be used (e.g. pension-style, dormitory style, hotel-style, host family)? Is the cost of housing included in the overall fee? Will players have roommates? If so, will they be able to request a roommate, or will they be assigned?
Is board included in whole or in part? If so, where, and what sort (e.g. fixed menu, limited menu, cafeteria style, local fare, European fare, etc.)?
If they have a “FAQs” section on their website or in their literature/pamphlets that addresses most of these, then make an assessment of their answers and make your decision.
If they are unable or unwilling to answer these sorts of questions when they are asking YOU to plunk down more than 3K, then THAT is your answer.
If you don’t the ability to get your son an EU passport based on your family history, that is also a reason to be hesitant.
I hope this helps…
I highly recommend you listen to this: http://johnpranjic.squarespace.com/blog/2015/1/2/destination-europe-with-jack-gidney. It is a podcast hosted by the same guy who did Gary’s. It is pitched toward older kids but is a good reality check. In my research/experience these overseas gig’s can serve as an inspiration for your son to work harder on his game at home, but are far from a “path” to a European academy.
Thanks so much for the link – WOW what a great podcast. I think my little guy is still far from thinking of all the EU possibilities and in all honesty if he makes it that far (sounds like it would be quite difficult coming from the states) – I would much rather prefer he go the South American route to begin. I think the EU dream is rather difficult dream and there so much talk about what an investment it is to take our US players.
On another note – We are in the midst of change here in the US and parents are probably as confused as I am. I mean, our own example is his coach had him playing up u8 at 6 (pretty common as far as I know) because he had faith in his technical abilities. However, we are now at a new club, where it seems like the emphasis is on winning. We wanted for him to continue to be challenged and play with more equal skilled players at u8—however his new club plays not 1yr up but some tournaments up to u10. And, so we have seen our son go from being the top guy to being on of the bunch and timid because he is afraid of the big kids. So, One day we hear “play the kid up” and then it does not work for every child. So… what is one to do?
I recommend that you start at the beginning and read this entire site (including the comments) to educate yourself. For example this post (http://blog.3four3.com/2013/06/10/2-reasons-for-not-achieving-high-level-soccer) and it’s comments will give you food for thought on your specific question. Read, read, read. Follow commentators links to other sites. Go to the trainings in Barcelona with your son and watch the coaches, the intensity/speed of play, the preciseness of the drills. Come home and apply that knowledge to finding the best club/coach for your son. American youth soccer thrives on ignorant parents ponying up $$$. Don’t accept the status quo.