ABYS Frequently Asked Questions
Our MicroSoccer program is designed for pre-schoolers. And our Kinder program for those players who have just entered grammar school. These programs offer players the opportunity to participate in developmentally age appropriate soccer programs. The MicroSoccer and Kinder programs are designed by our professional coaching staff led by our Director of Caoching. Our Professional staff will introduce kids and parents to the fundamentals of soccer. Child-centered and age-appropriate, this series of eight Sunday clinics presents unique interactive games that maximize every player’s touches of the ball and, most importantly, makes learning soccer skills FUN! Parents will have the opportunity to learn and practice with their children under our Professional staff's guidance.
Town (Intramural) Team Selection:
The team formation process for the town program also changes during the progression through the age levels. The Kinder program is generally organized around same-school groups, while U7-U8 groups are organized around a combination of school and friend groupings. Starting at U9 through U12, the team organization changes to provide as much balance across each group as possible, while at the same time recognizing the desire by children and parents to keep some friendly faces on each team. Team formations are usually done as a joint effort between Division Director and coaches, through a combination draft/placement process, including review of prior coaches’ evaluations and skills assessments. Team alignments are usually done each Fall, with the intention of keeping as many kids together as possible for both Fall and Spring seasons. Naturally, some changes will occur as new kids enter the mix and kids drop out.
Travel Player and Team Placement
In the BAYS (Boston Area Youth Soccer) program, unlike intramurals, we place players on teams with other players who are roughly equal in skill because we believe they will have a chance to improve more if they are playing with players close to their skill level. BAYS places teams of roughly equal skill in sections for the purpose of providing evenly matched competition. BAYS would be happy, ideally, if every team had a .500 season. This system does not work perfectly. Sometimes players are placed on the wrong team and teams are placed in the wrong section.
Consistent with the ABYS philosophy of promoting individual player development, coaches should bring to the attention of the Division Director for that age group a player who should obviously be placed on a higher or lower team. While it is inevitable that the coach will miss the "best" player if the player is moved to a higher ranked team, it is the purpose of the program to allow players to play at their level, not to enhance individual team's win-loss records. Similarly, coaches should bring to the attention of the age group coordinator a player who is clearly playing below the skill level of a team.
Travel Team Selection and Registration
To achieve real and perceived fairness, and to provide the best soccer experience for all children, players should be grouped according to ability, not geography or social relationships. A highly skilled player placed with less skilled teammates may feel excessive pressure to perform and frustration at being held back in terms of soccer development. A player, noticeably less skilled than one’s teammates, will feel intimidated and inadequate, the lack of confidence inhibiting any real chance for growth. Inappropriate placements take the fun out of the game for everyone.
• Generally, travel teams will be selected for the fall season based on open tryouts, or skill evaluations, held in the spring, along with evaluations from the current coaches and the direct observations of the Division Directors. Potential players will be evaluated based on soccer skills, athletic aptitude and commitment. All players must have an equal opportunity to compete; undue preference should not be given to players already on a travel team. In some cases, this will mean dropping a current player from one travel to a lower ranked travel team or to the town (intramural) program. This is never easy to do, but we must be fair to new players trying to get into the program. Make sure parents and players understand this before the tryouts. We generally try to select our travel teams by consensus of the Division Director and the coaches in the age group.
• In addition to open tryouts Division Directors may have existing teams, especially those in the same or adjacent divisions of the same age group play intra-club evaluation practices/scrimmages, preferably attended by outside evaluators to assist in player placement decisions.
• Based on all these data points, the Division Director and the coaches in the age group meet and form the travel teams. Within each age group, the strongest players will be assigned to the first-ranked team, the next strongest to the next-ranked team, and so on. The goal is to place players at the appropriate level of competition, not to keep teams or friends together. Players are strongly encouraged to play in their appropriate age group, but are not precluded from trying out for an older age group.
• Recruiting and communicating: ABYS prohibits recruiting of players from other teams by coaches, parents, players or friends. Mid-season transfers must be cleared in advance with the appropriate Division Director. Only then may the coach begin discussion with parents of the child to be invited onto the team. Under age 14, all discussions must be with the parent, not the child. During the season, the first communication with any player or parent about a transfer must come from that player’s current coach.
When registering your child, parents have the opportunity to request a coach and/or a friend as well as list the night(s) their child is unavailable for practices. Players in the travel program are placed based on skill level. For the town program, Division Directors try to form balanced teams while attempting to meet as many requests as possible. Directors try to account not only for coach, friend and school matches, but also nights children are available to practice. Unfortunately, not all requests can be fulfilled. Late registration players may not be accommodated.
Select clubs: Some top players may want to play on one of the so-called premier club teams in the MAPLE league, as well as on a town team. Although MAPLE does not usually play on Saturdays, there will inevitably be conflicts with your practices, with weekday afternoon and Sunday makeup games, and even regular games when the MAPLE team is in a tournament. You and the player (and the parents) need to discuss the potential problems before the season starts. If the player will in truth be able to make only half your games and few practices, the spot on the roster should probably go to someone else. Mass. Youth Soccer Assoc. (MYSA) has established a player priority list to help resolve conflicting schedules, which is posted on its website.
ABYS expects all U9-U12 travel players to attend all team practices (which may number as many as three per week)
with two exceptions:
A. those children playing soccer (and soccer only) on a so called premier club team are expected to attend a minimum of one ABYS scheduled practice per week on a weekday mutually agreed upon by coaches and team members such that the entire team may attend
B. any child who has an excused absence from school on the day of, or the following day, is also excused from that practice.
Any child not able to meet these expectations is welcome to play on an intramural town soccer team.
Town Program Overview
The ABYS town program is designed as both the initial development program and an ongoing development program for building soccer skills in a balanced, competitive, fun-oriented atmosphere. The program begins with Kinder Soccer, progresses through 4v4 play situations at the U7-U8 level, into 6v6 play at the U9-U10 levels, and ends with 7v7, or 8v8, play at the U11-U12 levels. Play within each division is of a ‘league’ nature where teams will usually play each other team once within their own division, with weekly Saturday games being the norm. The kinder program is formed of coed groups, while boys and girls are split into separate divisions beginning in U7. During the season, one week may be set aside as ‘town tournament’ week, where teams play a condensed round-robin mini-tournament of 3-4 games in a single day in lieu of a weekly league game.
Travel Program Overview
ABYS is a member of the BAYS (Boston Area Youth Soccer) program. This league provides several levels of competition, and is introduced to children entering the U9 division (playing 6v6), and continuing through the U18 division (with the transition to 11v11 play occurring at U12 and above). Each age group is divided into three tiers, Division 1 (representing the highest level of competition for that age group), Division 2, and Division 3. The normal team placement in BAYS section will combine six teams from different towns, playing a 10-week schedule, such that each team will play a home-and-away set against each other team in the section. While BAYS will work with towns to try and form sections that are geographically close, it is not abnormal to have a range of 20-30 miles between Acton and the farthest town in a section.
Most larger programs will usually field one Division 1 team, a couple Division 2 teams, and a few Division 3 teams, depending on the number of kids participating and which age group. Towns and BAYS attempt to place teams within a specific Division such that all teams in a particular section are very close in skill level.
In previous years, ABYS has generally set the line between travel and town play such that U11 and above all played travel. However over the 2001/2002 season, ABYS made several changes designed to increase the level of play within the Town program, and focus the Travel program to be more skills-specific. Among these changes include the limiting of Travel play for all U9-U12 Divisions to BAYS Division 1 and Division 2 placement. U13 and above will continue to offer only Travel play within ABYS, with team placements in all 3 BAYS divisions and sometimes in the Nashoba Valley Youth Soccer League.
The ABYS travel teams generally play in the Boston Area Youth Soccer League (BAYS). We are in one of the outermost towns in BAYS and as such our teams are sometimes required to travel more than one hour each way to play a BAYS game. Divisions 3 and 4 of BAYS are recreational soccer. ABYS used to have all its teams travel after 4th grade. This resulted in our recreational soccer teams (Divisions 3 and 4) sometimes traveling 2 hours round trip to play. Several years ago the ABYS Board decided that we could provide a better alternative. We now have our recreational teams play in-house or in more local leagues such as the Nashoba Valley Youth Soccer League (NVYSL). In the fall of 2003 we introduced recreational level games with the Concord-Carlisle Youth Soccer program. In most divisions ABYS fields two to three travel teams at the Division 1 and 2 levels depending on the depth of talent in that particular age group.
Generally teams carry rosters which makes sense under the circumstances balancing playing time, player availability, coaches and field space. (Fifteen to eighteen players for 11v11, 12 to 14 for 8v8 and at nine to twelve players for 6v6).
Players in good standing who participate on fall teams will usually be given the opportunity to compete on the same team in the spring. Placement on teams is made after the fall and spring seasons and the tryout at the end of the spring. Player development is typically in spurts and plateaus. A player in a lower placed team may hit a spurt when a player on a higher placed team is in a plateau. Considering a period of one year is the fairest way to average the ups and downs.
There are exceptions to this basic philosophy. Sometimes there are openings created by some players choosing not to play in the spring. A player may have moved to Acton in the summer and been misplaced for the fall season. Similarly, an exceptionally strong player may move to Acton after the fall season. The goal would be to simply add the player to the appropriate team. This is not always possible due to roster restrictions and some reallocation of players may be required.
The division director and coaches will discuss the candidates for movement and try to develop consensus on who should be moved. Where consensus is not possible, the division director has the final say. At the same time, coaches will be sensitive to team spirit, chemistry, teamwork and cohesion. Transfers of marginally better players are discouraged, especially during the fall to spring transition.
Players are divided into age groups from 8/1 to 7/31 each year. Players are generally encouraged to play with grade. Exceptions occur when an unusually strong player no longer feels challenged. Parents can then request that their child “play up” with the next higher grade. The request will be reviewed by the division director and the coach of the highest ranked team of the higher grade. The player must be close to the top of the ranking of this team for the play-up request to be approved. The player will most likely attend a tryout for the older age group. Final approval will also involve a roster review by the board of ABYS as is done for all first-ranked teams.
A player that is younger can play with their grade and it is not considered “playing up”.
The intent of the overall program is to use a consistent approach in organizing and promoting the program; however, the program is an evolving one where we continually review each season’s activities and the feedback from parents, players, coaches, and directors to assess possible changes. When prospective changes are identified and agreed by the Board, we may very often take a phased approach to the implementation in order to preserve continuity within a specific group. For example, if we identified a restriction in travel participation requirements for an upcoming Spring season, we would most likely not apply that change to the U12 division, as its effect on them would be for a single season only, as the entire group travels for Fall U13 play.
We also recognize that each division does differ --- not only in its demographic makeup and participation but also in the general talent level. This occurs between age groups as well as gender within the same age group. A program outlined for one specific division, for example GU11, may not translate exactly to the adjacent divisions (GU10, GU12, BU11). Our goal is to develop a program within each specific division that closely aligns with that of the other groups, but remains as consistent as possible within that specific division as it moves ahead each successive season.
The selection of coaches and assignment of teams is solely at the discretion of the boys and girls Division Director for each age group and for BAYS coaches as approved by the ABYS Board.
Generally, a coach will not be appointed head coach of two teams playing on Saturdays.
ABYS expects that all head coaches will take a MYSA coaching course no later than the end of their first year of coaching. For 6v6 teams, the "F" course or higher is required. For 11v11 teams, the "E" course or higher is required. It is strongly recommended that assistant coaches take at least the "G" course.
The goal of ABYS is to provide an optimal learning environment and develop a love of the game. Learning and enjoyment are at a maximum when a player is involved in as many real soccer situations (ball, teammates, opponents, goals, space and direction) as possible. The smaller the number of players, the more touches of the ball and experience the player gets. It is also important to note that small-sided games provide players with problems that are reasonable to solve and allows them more success to help build confidence. The minimal format retaining all essential elements of soccer is 4v4.
Global studies have shown that 4v4 delivers optimal results in player development. Pioneered by KNVB (Dutch Youth Soccer Assoc.), 4v4 is now used extensively in both amateur and professional youth programs throughout the world.
The short answer is ‘usually not’. The placement process we use is designed to support, encourage, and develop all players in the program, and, as much as possible, to focus each player’s development according to his/her particular needs and abilities. Within that framework, there are occasionally situations which fall outside the general attempt, and occasionally this does occur with a single-season player. It is very important that the division director and prospective coaches understand the situation of a one-season player, so that they can factor that into their plans for the year.
This information should be conveyed to the coaches and directors during the Spring tryout process. It will have much more significance in the U12 and above divisions, where upper-level teams are under strict BAYS roster limits during the Spring season. The issue is less likely to be a factor for a Fall-only player, where roster limits are more flexible, but the decision to "hold open" a roster slot for a Spring-only player is ultimately one that is up to the individual coach and director.
To provide each player the opportunity to play soccer in a supportive and rewarding environment that emphasizes fun, enjoyment and skill learning, at a level that fits the player’s interest and ability. We also appreciate the benefit of participating in a team sport. We encourage a child's development of group skills by exposing them to relationship-building and problem-solving challenges in social situations.
1) A youth player should not be kept in goal against her wishes just because she is the best keeper and the team needs her to win the game.
2) Coaches should not hold on to good players at a lower playing level just to help the team to win games. The better player should be allowed to move up to the next level in order to help him reach his potential, even if it means that the team he leaves behind will be weakened.
3) Every player must play in every game, not left to sit on the bench for the entire game because the team must win.
4) Young players should not be pigeon-holed into one position when young. Players should be given the chance to play multiple positions and develop various skills to make each player a better overall player.
Using goalkeepers is not recommended for these age groups. One reason for this is that modern day goalkeepers must be able to control the ball with their feet and pass as well as field players. U7 and U8 are critical ages in developing those skills which is best done when children play as a field player. Children enjoy participating in the game. Having a player back in goal, stuck in a penalty box, often prevents them from participating and having fun.
The parent or guardian will:
(1) be encouraging, supportive, & affirmative in regard to all children’s play on the field, regardless of team
(2) respect officials & accept their decisions
(3) support the coach, manager, the team, & the club
(4) volunteer my services & talents to the team when possible
(5) familiarize myself with the Laws of the Game
(6) comply with rules, policies, & procedures of the team & ABYS as they apply to me
(7) discuss my child
- only with the coach
- not with the manager or any other person
- only at a time mutually agreed upon with the coach
- never prior to, during, or directly after a game
Further, the parent or guardian will never :
(1) engage in dissent directed toward an official
(2) engage in any kind or type of un-sportsmanlike conduct with any official, coach, player, or parent
(3) interfere at any time with the duties and responsibilities of the coach or manager
(4) act in any manner which is detrimental to the team or ABYS.
These are just guidelines and our philosophy is to try to do what we think is in the best interests of each player balanced against trying to do what is best for the most players at the same time.
It depends. ABYS does not give out team trophies. Some coaches/parents believe that trophies are an important part of a young child’s self esteem and others believe they are just dust collectors. ABYS leaves it up to the coaches/parents on a particular team to take the initiative if they wish. Other coaches give pictures, bags, hats, certificates, socks, personalized pillow cases and team t-shirts and even jackets. It is entirely up to the coaches/parents if they wish to do this. The coaches and parents bear the cost of any trophies or gifts as ABYS does not contribute to the cost of trophies or other gifts
This page was last updated November 26, 2011