- WWPSA Concussion Policy: click HERE
- US Club Soccer Heading Policy: click HERE for policy
- U11 and under: no heading at practices or games
- U12 and U13: limited heading allowed
- US Soccer announces new Birth-year age groupings
- US Soccer, in an attempt to match other country standards, has mandated all youth soccer programs to change to birth-year groupings.
FAQS for Travel Families
1. What is the player development model?
WWPSA offers one of the most comprehensive player development models in the region. A player development curriculum features specific objectives for a player to meet at each age level. This model includes an appropriate training program for players of all ability levels; accelerated opportunities for players who demonstrate expedited growth; and written evaluations twice per year. All parents are encouraged to read the club’s comprehensive soccer curriculum.
2. What is the structure of WWPSA?
WWPSA has become one of the largest clubs in the region and continues growing, with more than 30 teams ranging from U8-U18.
Tryouts for the club are held every year in April for ages U8-U15. Older teams try out in November for the following spring season.
There are multiple teams in each age group, ensuring that each player receives the appropriate developmental experience.
3. What are the time and travel commitments for a travel team?
Teams have two practice sessions per week that run 90-minutes each, and a league game which is typically on Sunday. Maximum travel time for a league game is 1 hour and 15 minutes, exceeding this only on rare occasion.
Tournaments consist of 3-4 games over the course of a Saturday/Sunday.
4. Why are we traveling over an hour to play some games? Aren’t there travel teams in neighboring towns we can play?
The NJ Youth Soccer Association has nine member leagues, each with specific geographic boundaries. WWPSA plays in the Mid-NJ league, and West Windsor is at the southern edge of the geographical boundary. Because of this, teams often find themselves traveling north to games. While Robbinsville and Allentown may be closer to West Windsor (for example), most of their teams play in the MOSA (Monmouth Ocean Soccer Assn) league. These teams find themselves traveling to Toms River and the shore region to compete. WWPSA teams do often enjoy the opportunity to play neighboring teams in tournaments.
5. What is the time frame of a travel season?
There are fall and spring seasons. The fall season begins Aug 31 and ends in late November; the spring season starts March 1 and ends in June. Indoor winter training is available for each team, but is optional. The club offers a summer select program through Mercer FC, which is tryout-driven.
6. How do games get scheduled? Can our game be moved if a few players have a conflict?
A team will typically play half of its games at home each season, and the other half of its games away. Our home schedule is set by the club at the beginning of the season. The team administrator contacts each opposing team to advise them of the home-game time and location. There are occasions in which a new time might need to be agreed upon if there is a conflict with the majority of the kids on one of the teams.
The home schedule is arranged with WWPSA teams playing consecutively on specific fields, to maximize chances of securing the referees needed. That is, Zaitz Field 4 may be scheduled to host a Benfica game at 9, a Lazio game at 10:30, and an Ajax game at 12:00pm. The same referee crew will stay for all three games. If one of these games needs to be moved, we attempt to align it with another consecutive “run” of games. In addition, we need to ensure field availability for a game, as WWPSA shares fields across the travel, recreation, and adult programs. Due to these logistical concerns, there are instances in which games can not be moved.
Conversely, for away games, the away club will set the schedule. The away-team administrator will contact the WWPSA team administrator to advise him/her of game time and location. Due to their own internal logistics, some clubs will not set a final schedule until 1-2 weeks before the game. Other clubs vary in flexibility in allowing schedule changes.
7. Who will be coaching my child?
WWPSA has made the move to a 100% professionally managed training program. Led by the Director of Coaching, each team will be trained and coached by professionally licensed trainers. This model has a number of advantages and is more conducive to players maximizing their development.
8. What is the structure of a training session?
There are two 90-minute training sessions per week. Boys generally train Monday and Wednesday and girls on Tuesday and Thursday. Sessions are held in 3 blocks- 4:30-6, 6-7:30 and 7:30-9. Training times are usually determined by age level of team and field availability. Players should arrive 15-minutes early to sessions to warm-up and maximize the time available. Parents are encouraged to watch sessions but cannot participate in any way.
9. Where are practices and home games held?
WWPSA has five facilities, including Zaitz Park, Conover Park, West Windsor Community Park, Duck Pond Park and Plainsboro Community Park. Directions to all of these facilities can be found on our website.
10. Do teams train during the winter?
There is an optional indoor training program in the winter months. This is offered through the club for an additional cost. Teams can also register on their own for indoor leagues.
11. What auxiliary programs are available through WWPSA travel?
A Technical Development Academy (TDA) is available for young children, starting at age 5-6. This provides preparation for travel soccer, and has proven very beneficial for children.
There are also weekly skills clinics that are held on Friday evenings. These clinics focus on technical and tactical development. Information about these programs can be found on our website, and in registration opportunities which are regularly communicated by our Director of Coaching.
12. How are our travel fees spent?
WWPSA offers a low cost model while still providing a superior development program. In general, here is the cost breakdown of a typical team:
Training 75% of total fees
Tournaments 10% of total fees
Referees 10% of total fees
Miscellaneous 5% of total fees
Uniform costs are not included in the above.
13. What are my team responsibilities as a parent? Are there opportunities to get more involved?
Team parents are responsible for transportation, and for offering positive encouragement on the sidelines. Parents are not involved in soccer-related decision making. For parents who want to get more involved with the team, there are opportunities to do so. The primary volunteer role is that of team administrator; however, other roles are also available to assist the team administrator as needed. Some examples are as follows:
- Team registrar: handles the carding package and registration
- Uniform coordinator: completes uniform ordering for new teams and every two years thereafter
- Sunburst coordinator: coordinates parent volunteers for team Sunburst Tournament responsibilities
- Team treasurer: opens and manages team bank account and writing of checks. Responsible for cash payments to referees
- SAGE Representative: attends SAGE training (one evening) and disseminates information to parents.
- Team party coordinator
- Team photographer
- Team volunteer sub coordinator: In the event a trainer cannot make a game, a sub manager simply manages the substituting of players on the sideline. (Sub manager must obtain F License and coaching pass.)
14. What are my volunteer responsibilities to WWPSA as the parent of a travel player?
Each WWPSA family pays a volunteer bond, and is required to volunteer 3 hours of service in order to recoup this bond.
IN ADDITION, each family is required to volunteer for three hours at WWPSA’s Sunburst Tournament. These hours do NOT count toward the bond fulfillment. The Sunburst coordinator for your team will help facilitate your volunteer assignments for the tournament. The tournament takes places the weekend after Memorial Day.
15. What is SAGE?
SAGE stands for Set A Good Example, and is a program designed to promote positive parent behavior on the sidelines and beyond. The SAGE mission is to remind parents that the game is for the kids; that respect for others is a lesson we can help teach; and that setting a good example is more important than winning.
Each team which participates in the Mid-NJ Youth Soccer league is required to have a parent SAGE representative who attends a training session, then disseminates information to the team. Additionally, all parents are required to sign a SAGE Sportsmanship pledge.
16. What is the course of action if I have an issue with my son/daughter’s playing time?
Because this is a competitive soccer environment, playing time is earned and not assumed. Players must continuously compete in sessions and games to earn playing time. If the amount of playing time your child receives causes a concern, you much wait 24 hours before contacting the coach. This is known as the “24-hour rule.” Once this time frame has been honored, initial concerns about playing time can be addressed to the trainer by phone or email. In-person communication is acceptable if both parties agree on the time and place to have this conversation. If the situation is not resolved through parent/trainer communication, the Director of Coaching may enter the conversation.
17. How much emphasis is placed on winning in travel soccer?
While it’s the nature of every player to want to win, the bulk of emphasis is placed on player development. It is not necessarily beneficial for a team to win or lose every game during the regular season, especially by wide margins. We work diligently to flight teams accurately, so they are competing in close and challenging contests, which result in narrow score differentials (2-1, 1-0, 3-2, 0-0, etc.) The closer the matches are, the more likely it is that development is taking place.
18. What is a “flight”?
Teams are organized into “flights” by gender, age group, and the competitive level of the team. For example, Mid-NJ Youth Soccer wants to ensure that 10 year old girls are playing other 10 year old girls at approximately the same ability level. To that end, they “group” the teams into flights of 6, 10, or 11 teams, which will then play one another throughout the season. These groupings are called flights.
Most flights are numbered from 01 up (small sided U11 and U12 flights are numbered from 51 up.) The lower the flight number, the more competitive the team. A team that is flighted “01” is at the highest competitive level, in that age bracket, in the Mid-NJ league.
Flights are reevaluated and rebalanced each season. Teams which win most of their games in a flight will usually get moved to a more competitive level (a lower-numbered flight) for the next season. Teams that lose most of their games generally get moved to a less competitive level (a higher-numbered flight). Teams that win about half their games in a flight may stay in the same flight.
19. It doesn’t seem like our team is in the correct flight. We are winning/losing too many games. What could’ve happened?
Flights are based on the team’s record from the previous season. At times, a team’s roster will change considerably between seasons. A team that was less-competitive, but added some “seasoned” players between soccer seasons, may appear to be misflighted. The converse is possible as well, if seasoned players were lost. Additionally, a brand new team may not initially be placed in the most accurate flight, as the club and league are only forecasting how the team will perform...prior to seeing them compete.
20. When will I receive my child’s soccer evaluation?
As part of our overall club development program, and in line with WWPSA’s soccer curriculum, trainers conduct ongoing player assessments during both the fall and spring. These are differentiated by age and ability.
Parents receive an evaluation each season, the purpose of which is to paint a realistic picture of a child’s development as a player. This should be considered a starting point for continued conversations between a trainer, parent, and player.
21. Is it true that the official age groups for soccer are changing?
Yes. In the 2015-2016 soccer year, players born between August 1, 2002 and July 31, 2003, for example, are grouped together. This roughly corresponds to grade level, as these players are primarily 7th graders. Beginning with the 2016-2017 soccer year, US Youth Soccer is mandating the reorganization of age groups. Players will be organized by birth year, aligning US soccer with FIFA/international standards. In the case above, players born in 2002 will play together, and players born in 2003 will play together. These teams will now be a mix of 7th and 8th graders (2002), and a mix of 6th and 7th graders (2003.) Please note that this change is mandated at the national level. It affects not only WWPSA, but all programs in surrounding areas as well.
22. Is my child’s team changing based on the new age groupings?
Each year, players need to try out to earn a spot on a WWPSA travel team. This year will be the same, with tryouts scheduled for the end of April. While birth year teams will be formulated, it will still be possible for a player (or players) to “play up” a year. Some teams will experience more change than others, as is true every year. We will need to hold the tryouts to determine which players will be offered spots on which specific teams.
23. What is the relationship between WWPSA and Mercer FC?
Mercer FC is the premier division of WWPSA, which offers a more challenging developmental experience for players of all age groups. Mercer FC teams compete in EDP and MAPS.
24. I have other questions about travel soccer. Whom should I ask?
For team-specific inquiries, particularly those related to the schedule, please contact your team administrator.
For questions related to travel programs (including TDA, Skills Night, GK training, Winter Training, and Tryouts), please contact Mark at email@example.com.
For questions about the training curriculum, please contact Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about how you can help the club, and for all other inquiries, please contact Bill at email@example.com.