Travel Soccer FAQ

An Introduction to Travel Soccer

Recreation, travel, club, select, premier, academy....  There are a lot of terms for youth soccer programs and environments and trying to understand what each of them is can be a challenge for parents.  At its most basic level a soccer club is an organization that has the purpose of ensuring each player is able to play the game of soccer to his or her highest potential.  Many soccer clubs have different programs within their organization.  These various programs can sometimes blur the lines for parents and make navigating the world of youth soccer a challenge.

Lewisburg AYSO is a region of AYSO, the world's largest soccer club, that offers many different programs that range in size and complexity.  In Central Pennsylvania AYSO has become an almost catch-all term to describe only the AYSO Core program, not the multifaceted nationwide soccer club.  AYSO Core, in any other context or any other soccer club, is intramural soccer.

What is intramural soccer?

  • Intramural soccer is recreational soccer that is played for the primary purposes of having fun, enjoying the game, and introducing it to young players within a single club setting.  Intramural is often referred to as just recreational soccer or rec for short.  Rec soccer is less competitive than travel soccer, it's cheaper, and it's typically the starting point for most players.  Recreational soccer teams are generally put together with the specific purpose of maintaining a balance of play for all players on all teams.  There are no tryouts in rec soccer, scores aren't kept, there is very little to no travel for games, and winning is not the focus.

What is travel soccer?

  • Travel soccer is competitive soccer.  It is generally more expensive than recreational soccer and it requires a bigger commitment from players and their families.  There are tryouts and only those players selected for their skills are placed on teams.  Scores are kept and maintained, there is more travel for games, and games are won, lost, or tied.  Players are required to attend practices and games and missing either could affect that player's standing on the team.  The term club soccer is mostly interchangeable with travel soccer, but either term describes competitive soccer played in a league recognized by US Soccer.

What are the different youth soccer leagues in Central Pennsylvania?

  • There are two primary youth soccer leagues in the greater Susquehanna Valley aside from the AYSO-only recreational league within Area K.
    • North Central Pennsylvania (NCP) - NCP is the most local of the two leagues.
      • There are clubs playing in NCP from Benton, Berwick, Bloomsburg, Danville, Hughesville, Lewisburg, Middleburg, Mifflinburg, Milton, Montoursville, Mount Carmel, Muncy, Northumberland, Selinsgrove, and Williamsport.
      • Typically there is only one division for each age group playing in NCP, meaning there is generally no first, second, or third flight in any age group (yet!).  That is only problematic if there is a large discrepancy between the strongest and the weakest teams within a specific division.
      • The youngest age division in NCP is U10, though NCP will attempt to put together a U9 division if there are enough teams to support it.
      • NCP-only clubs typically cost a bit more than AYSO, though the costs of NCP varies from club to club.
      • Travel to away games within NCP ranges from 15 to 45 minutes.
      • NCP is the soccer league in which LASC competes.
      • NCP games are held on Sunday afternoons.
    • Central Pennsylvania Youth Soccer League (CPYSL) - CPYSL is centered around the greater Harrisburg Area.
      • There is an extensive club listing for CPYSL, but the only local clubs that have teams competing in CPYSL are North Union United (NUU) and Central Susquehanna Soccer Club (CSSC).  NUU also has teams playing in the higher tiered EDP league and the PAGS and PRCL regional tournament leagues organized by Sideline Soccer Solutions (formerly APL).
      • CPYSL usually has multiple divisions within each age group, meaning there is typically a first, second, and third flight within each age group.
      • The youngest age division in CPYSL is U9.
      • CPYSL is more expensive than NCP.
      • Travel to away games with CPYSL ranges from 60 to 90 minutes.
      • CPYSL games are mostly held on Saturday mornings or afternoons (U9 - U12).  Teams that are U13 or older play on Sunday afternoons in the fall and Saturdays in the spring.

Which is the right travel league for my child?

  • That depends on what is the best fit for your family and the intended purpose of playing travel soccer.  If the purpose is to provide a young player with an introduction to travel soccer without a lot of travel or cost, then NorthCenPenn is a great option.  If the purpose is to provide that young player with the highest level of competition possible, then CPYSL is also a fine option.  Or perhaps a family has other children playing on a Saturday or a Sunday, then choosing a league may simply come down to scheduling and logistics.  There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to making a determination on which league is best for your family.  The most important thing to keep in mind is to choose the club and league that is the best fit for everyone.

How do I choose a travel soccer club?

  • Once you have figured out what you can and cannot do related to league play days, there are a number of other factors for parents to consider before making the move to travel soccer.  Things a parent should think about before choosing a club:
    • Which club offers the best fit for my family?
    • How far are we willing to travel?
    • What is my child's skill level?
      • Every parent should be proud of their children, but it is really important to be honest with yourself when you're thinking about this question.  Over or under estimating a young player's ability does a disservice to their development.
    • Who is coaching the team?  What training and certifications have they received?
    • Who are the most recent coaches to join the club?  What was their background?
    • What is the feedback from other parents?
    • Who are my child's teammates?
      • This question is sometimes overlooked, but it is an especially important question to ask with respect to young players.  Logistics and skills are important, but so is ensuring young players are on a team with good chemistry and, hopefully, a few friends.
    • What type of playing time should my child expect?
      • There is no firm rule that dictates all players must play at least 50% of a given game.  Some clubs and some leagues have policies on playing time, but it's important to know what they are before joining a club.
    • How are teams managed?
    • What is the club's mission and history?
    • How well does the club communicate with parents?

How is Lewisburg Area Soccer Club different than other soccer clubs?

  • Lewisburg Area Soccer Club has the unique mission of bridging the gap between AYSO and travel soccer.  Our program provides developing players with club-level competition, but maintains many of the core values that have made AYSO a great place for soccer since 1964.  The focus on positive coaching, good sportsmanship, player development, and ensuring each player is guaranteed playing time remain core tenants within the Lewisburg Area Soccer Club.

Click here to learn more about Why LASC is an exciting new option for young soccer players.

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