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flatfoot
06-22-2007, 09:23 AM
I recently became aware of this forum. Lot's of interesting and useful discussion.

We have a U10 son, going to U11 next season. He's been doing MPS for the past year and it's been a good experience. The quality of play and coaching has been decent. In our area, with a few exceptions, the skills and competition level seem about on par with what we see in upper division 2 BAYS teams, our only real comparison. The MPS emphasis on development over win/loss results takes a bit getting used to, but it does keep the pressure and intensity manageable.

We don't kno w much about the club teams, notably MAPLES, but there seem's to be a wide spectrum of experience.

My son's been joining some of his friends trying out for next year U11 MAPLE teams. In addition to the MPS SOE, he's received an offer and contract in the mail from the Boston Blast and we're waiting to hear from two other tryouts. We have a few options, choose MPS, join the Blast, wait for another team or do nothing next year.

I'd be interested in getting advice on a few levels:

(1) from folks that have considered the tradeoff between MPS and MAPLES, which way did you go and how did it work?

(2) specifically on the Boston Blast, what are their younger teams like, does playing time really become an issue, etc ,etc.

(3) Any other things we should take into account?

I read the "MPS impact" thread, and this isn't intended to spark another "MPS versus MAPLES" discussion. I'm looking for specific insight into what might be best for our young player. You can PM me, if you think any comments could initiate too much flak.

Currently my son is a solid player, not a star, has many decent skills, a few deficiences and really likes the game. If he stays on his current trajectory, he would probably be a good high school varisity player, but not likely a regional or state "standout". We want him to have fun, first!

06-22-2007, 10:01 AM
Development of technique is the most important thing at this age. If you are happy with that aspect of MPS, I'd recommend staying.

If you are sold on a move to MAPLE, I'd recommend a club like Bolts or Puma over the Blast. They tend to have stronger programs across all age groups, rather than an isolated strong team.

Blue Devil
06-22-2007, 10:17 AM
Hi Flatfoot -

This forum is ok for ideas and thoughts but we all have our bias' as well. I would really be leery of using posters suggestions as more than a starting point when it comes to specific clubs. I would speak with the president or DOC of clubs in your area and then with the individual team coach so that you have a good sense of their over all game plan and their approach in implementing that plan. Here is my two cents:

First MPS is a club and Maple is a league that is comprised of clubs. So the choice isn't between Maple and MPS it is a search to identify the right club/team for your son. That team may play in Maple or MASC or Super Y.

At your child's age training should be the most important part your decision. What are their goals for 10,11 and 12 year olds? Ask about frequency of training & how their players should progress. What is their access to training facilities in the winter months? How does the club cycle coaches and why are those coaches good for your child's age group? Just because a coach played college soccer, doesn’t mean he or she is going to be good at teaching young players.

Does your son want to play town travel? Does your son want to play other sports? (I would really hope yes) Does the club accommodate players when there are conflicts?

Is your son going to travel the highways and byways of Massachusetts to play in a league where he touches the ball a couple of minutes and that league win/loss placement is the main focus of the team/club. Or is he in a program where the ball will always be at his feet and the games are nice but not the main focus at his age? Some teams/clubs are really concerned with skill development - others are really concerned with wins/losses at an early age.

Other things to investigate - does the club have a high turnover rate as teams progress. What I mean by this is some teams/clubs will concentrate on winning and adding better players to their team every chance they get and turn over 10% to 40% of their roster most years. On these type of teams if your 12 year old is one of the top 2-3 players on the team he will likely be on the team at 15 or 16 - if not he will likely be cut. If the club has a B or C team he may be offered a slot there if not you will be scrambling for a team at the last moment and it will be tough after he has formed frienships for the past 1,2 or 3 years. Being cut is really hard on most kids and can also turn them away from the sport quickly.

Costs can vary greatly so make sure you understand all costs up front. Last thing for now is what is are the clubs tournament ideals - 2-3 trips by air per year can be a fun thing or an expensive disruption to your family life depending on what your family prefers to do.

Hope this helps - good luck to you and your son

Seabiscuit
06-22-2007, 10:27 AM
The boys get neglected on this forum, don't they?!

You already know what MPS is like and hopefully have watched some practices/games for some of the older ages, especially the premier teams. That, plus talking with the coaches about what to expect next year and beyond should give you an idea of what the program will be like for your son down the road.

I have heard some pretty good things about the Blast but I don't know anything about their coaching. The best thing you can do is ask the same questions of the coaches and club organization. I would want to know the level of parent involvement in administration of the club (the less the better, from my perspective)! What are the qualifications of the coach your son might have next year, and the year(s) after? What is his style and would it mesh with your son? What other players are going to be on the team, do they have the same general attititude as your son as to where soccer fits in their lives? They are all pretty young still, so hopefully it's just still about fun and learning and not the end all of their existence!

It would be great if you could watch some Blast practices/games but that time has probably past for spring, except that I think the Blast won State Cup at U-14(?) so they still should be practicing this and next week to get ready for regionals. Although this is several years older than your son, it might give you some idea of at least that coach and team. Then of course the next question is whether there is an across the board coaching philosophy, do the teams change coaches from year to year? Club Scene is right - at this age it's about learning technique and good touches on the ball, and then just being part of a team and all that goes with that.

Sorry I can't give you any specific advice about the Blast. Do you know any parents who have had boys play for them? They might be good resources as the overall "disposition" of the club and team, but remember everyone has a bias! the coaches and team administration are the best places to ask questions.

The MPS vs Maple debate has gone on forever - check out old discussions on the old touchline forum. It's just about what is right for your child, and nothing else. As I said in MPS thread earlier this morning, it's about where will your son have a fun year and grow and learn as a soccer player. Also realize that this decision is not going to determine his entire soccer future! It's not the end of the world if it doesn't turn out great, players move all the time from year to year (and often even mid-year). Hope it all works out for you.

Seabiscuit
06-22-2007, 10:28 AM
Excellent advice from Blue Devil as well.

06-22-2007, 11:25 AM
This forum is ok for ideas and thoughts but we all have our bias' as well. I would really be leery of using posters suggestions as more than a starting point when it comes to specific clubs. I would speak with the president or DOC of clubs in your area and then with the individual team coach so that you have a good sense of their over all game plan and their approach in implementing that plan.

You know, I have really mixed feelings about your comments. Yes, we all have biases and reading through this and similar forums, it is clear that things that are said often amount to little more than cheerleading and bashing. I agree that,ideally, that is better not propagated.

On the other hand, though many of the DOC's, coaches, and administrators are people of the highest intergrity, there are also some that will gladly give you a drink of Kool-Aid. If you, like us, were babes in the woods, with no background in soccer other than a child who loved to play the game, you could be very much in trouble without honest input from all sorts of people.

We, and a few others, had a horrific experience joining a team at about the same age as the original poster. It was so bad that MAPLE intervened with the club because things that were going on were clearly out of bounds. Later, people approached us saying that the club had been doing those things for years, that MAPLE had stepped in before, etc. etc. I was furious that people held their tongues to begin with, even when we asked about the club. It seemed to be common knowledge among the MAPLE soccer insiders. Why should I be shy about sharing that experience with another parent? At the very least, that allows them to ask specific questions and assure themselves that a situation has been properly resolved. I wish we had been spared the anguish. Our child bounced back very well but some kids dropped out. Please don't tell me that any twelve year old should be put through that.

Notice that I have not named the club, individuals, etc. But every time I see someone on this board admonishing people that talking about their anecdotal experience is not appropriate, I really struggle with it. Yes, I know it will go over the top, but I trust myself enough that I can apply the appropriate filters and see the wheat from chaff.

Free speech is sometimes an ugly thing, but you will never see me argue it should be suppressed.

And yes, I know the rules of the board and I respect them. I'm just musing here about the issue in general.

Just my two cents.

06-22-2007, 12:06 PM
So what exactly was your experience if you can be more specific?

Soccer Fan
06-22-2007, 12:23 PM
"Development of technique is the most important thing at this age"
That and having fun and making sure they continue to love to play

Blue Devil
06-22-2007, 12:26 PM
Fabio - I agree with a lot of what you say, and if it was a poster that had a lot of credibility, I would certainly pay attention. Or if I was a newbie and you wrote a PM giving details of what was improper I would certainly check them out and feel very grateful to you for sharing them with me.

On the other hand there are people with axes to grind and it seems that this place is getting more tabloid by the minute. I think that some of the posts get more validity than they deserve; and would prefer to form my opinions based on meeting the actual people in the club.

Most of the DOCs and Presidents that I know are good folks. But I'm sure that are some bad ones too; and if I was thinking about joining a club advice from folks who like you had previous experience would be appreciated. But I hope that my opinion of an otherwise good situation would not be jaded by a couple people with axes to grind

06-22-2007, 01:39 PM
Fabio - I agree with a lot of what you say, and if it was a poster that had a lot of credibility, I would certainly pay attention. Or if I was a newbie and you wrote a PM giving details of what was improper I would certainly check them out and feel very grateful to you for sharing them with me.

On the other hand there are people with axes to grind and it seems that this place is getting more tabloid by the minute. I think that some of the posts get more validity than they deserve; and would prefer to form my opinions based on meeting the actual people in the club.

Most of the DOCs and Presidents that I know are good folks. But I'm sure that are some bad ones too; and if I was thinking about joining a club advice from folks who like you had previous experience would be appreciated. But I hope that my opinion of an otherwise good situation would not be jaded by a couple people with axes to grind

Usually any negative comment posted here is met with an immediate accusation of a bias, an agenda, or an axe to grind.

All that was said was that one team didn't seem to have as complete a program as some others. Not a negative comment at all.

How about you stop being so over-sensitive? Stop trying to find hidden negativity where there is none.

Blue Devil
06-22-2007, 03:51 PM
Fabio - I agree with a lot of what you say, and if it was a poster that had a lot of credibility, I would certainly pay attention. Or if I was a newbie and you wrote a PM giving details of what was improper I would certainly check them out and feel very grateful to you for sharing them with me.

On the other hand there are people with axes to grind and it seems that this place is getting more tabloid by the minute. I think that some of the posts get more validity than they deserve; and would prefer to form my opinions based on meeting the actual people in the club.

Most of the DOCs and Presidents that I know are good folks. But I'm sure that are some bad ones too; and if I was thinking about joining a club advice from folks who like you had previous experience would be appreciated. But I hope that my opinion of an otherwise good situation would not be jaded by a couple people with axes to grind

Usually any negative comment posted here is met with an immediate accusation of a bias, an agenda, or an axe to grind.

All that was said was that one team didn't seem to have as complete a program as some others. Not a negative comment at all.

How about you stop being so over-sensitive? Stop trying to find hidden negativity where there is none.

Hi Guest,

I'm not sure what you are reacting to because I didn't call out any particular post. If you think that I was reacting to an strong post by Seabiscuit on the Blast - earlier in the thread - I wasn't - that was good stuff. But I was responding to Fabio, and I think he brought up some good points and my comments were directly back to him.

In fact I haven't seen anything negative in this thread at all, and to go further, negative comments are certainly valid; and don't have to be linked to bias or an axe to grind. But if you read this board you can certainly see that there are a few posters who do have agendas.

Flatfoot asked for opinions and part of my opinion was to talk directly to the DOC, President and parents of the clubs that interest him; and not to use this board as his main source of info as he was deciding whether to stay with MPS or join a Maple club. (if you read the MPS thread on this or the other board; I think you will get a lot of info - but you will also see that MPS vs. Maple is the issue that brings out the most agendas in posters on both sides)

06-22-2007, 06:18 PM
Fabio - I agree with a lot of what you say, and if it was a poster that had a lot of credibility, I would certainly pay attention. Or if I was a newbie and you wrote a PM giving details of what was improper I would certainly check them out and feel very grateful to you for sharing them with me.

On the other hand there are people with axes to grind and it seems that this place is getting more tabloid by the minute. I think that some of the posts get more validity than they deserve; and would prefer to form my opinions based on meeting the actual people in the club.

Most of the DOCs and Presidents that I know are good folks. But I'm sure that are some bad ones too; and if I was thinking about joining a club advice from folks who like you had previous experience would be appreciated. But I hope that my opinion of an otherwise good situation would not be jaded by a couple people with axes to grind

Usually any negative comment posted here is met with an immediate accusation of a bias, an agenda, or an axe to grind.

All that was said was that one team didn't seem to have as complete a program as some others. Not a negative comment at all.

How about you stop being so over-sensitive? Stop trying to find hidden negativity where there is none.

I really didn't mean to stir the pot...I was just musing out loud about something I turn over in my mind from time to time.

Not a black and white world....its grey. Likewise, I keep telling myself that the situations with club soccer, like many things in life, are not inherently good or bad, they just are and its our job to navigate.

Sure, I have my fantasy ideas about how I think it SHOULD be...but I keep that to myself because its just that...a fantasy.

Information sharing is good. The people going tabloid here are pretty obvious....I just ignore them and pay attention to those that seem to have thoughtful comments. I don't resent someone their Kool-Aid, unless they try to force it down my throat and no one as tried to do that yet :)

06-22-2007, 08:40 PM
I'm not going to mention any clubs or people, everyone would assume I'm blogging just like every other guest on this board. When you look at the quality of the coaches and the club organization, talk to the coaches and DOC in person, the decision where to place your trust is really obvious. It really is that obvious. When you focus on game, tourney wins and league records and listen to disingenuous salesmanship from uneducated and immature club personnel, or so called friends, hearing what you want to hear, you will end up rolling the dice and chasing the dragon. Guarantee there will be disappointment and disillusionment down the road. Give me educated, mature and credible people and I will hitch my wagon to their train every time.

flatfoot
06-24-2007, 09:52 AM
Thanks for all of the tips. Right now we're looking at a few different options. A couple of my son's friends are waiting for some calls, too.

We understand that you have to take anything from a forum with a grain of salt, but I think you can usually pick out the quality input from the noise.

Liverpool Coach
06-24-2007, 10:04 AM
Hi, have you asked your son what he wants? There are many clubs that will try to "sell" their program to you which is a natural thing to do. At this age the most important thing is to continue to build on individual skills for a large part of their training. At U11 I'd be more concerned with not having to commute too far and who the coach is and what his / her philosphy is. While many clubs will talk of their philosophy, how that philosophy is applied can vary widely from coach to coach within a club. The other thing is your son and his friends should go together to the same club as this makes the transition much more enjoyable rather than not knowing any one in the beginning

Best of luck in your decision

flatfoot
06-25-2007, 09:19 AM
Good question and we've asked him. Thanks for some of the PMs, too!

He thinks that joining the right MAPLES team will give him exposure to better development and the opportunity to play stronger competition than MPS (emphasis, of course, on "the right" team). He has a history with the MPS program, though, has a good reputation with them and would be happy just returning there.

The hype on MAPLES (at least some clubs) is pretty high in our community, though.

I get two impressions of MAPLES, generally. One, that if you aren't on a team by u11, it becomes significantly harder to break into a club at later ages. i.e., there's a benefit to getting "into the system" early if you think he'll want to try it later. Like I suggested, right now he's a good/solid player, not the star on his teams, but has those occasional moments where you can see potential.

The 2nd impression is that many clubs base their reputations on the success of their teams, that playing time is not guaranteed and, at later ages, kids do get cut and it can be a really brutal experience. At least two families we know have had kids join a team only to get at most 5 minutes of playing in most games. We also know a kid who did 3 years of MAPLES, then was just told they didn't make the cut at tryouts this year.

Have to decide whether the risk of a such an experience is genuinely worth the possible upside.

On his MPS team, he was a star on a team of decent players. He looked forward to the games, got to play several positions and was one of the leading scorers. The coaches like him and he made several friends that will be returning. We are pretty sure that returning to MPS will continue to make the game fun, he'll continue to get decent coaching and development.

We'll be deciding tonite (deadlines and all) and we'll let him have a vote. The choices are between staying with MPS, joining the Blast or taking a spot on a training team with another MAPLES team (which, in itself, might be an interesting alternative!).

FSM
06-25-2007, 09:28 AM
Flatfoot, the most important points in making your decision for your sons at U11 and U12 is that he get good coaching (read: technical training) and lots of game time. The level of his teammates should not be as important until U13/U14. The biggest mistake you will make maybe taking him into a more competitive environment where he doesn't get playing time. 10, 11 or 12 year olds do not learn to PLAY the game sitting on a bench.

skinny maradona
06-25-2007, 09:45 AM
On his MPS team, he was a star on a team of decent players. He looked forward to the games, got to play several positions and was one of the leading scorers. The coaches like him and he made several friends that will be returning. We are pretty sure that returning to MPS will continue to make the game fun, he'll continue to get decent coaching and development.

This paragraph contains what you need to focus on especially the red parts.

Blue Devil
06-25-2007, 09:52 AM
Couldn't agree more - based on the information you have supplied Flatfoot - it looks like MPS is the best fit for your son. Not to say that a Maple club couldn't offer the same; but why swap a great situation that he is currently in; for an unknown. I see the risk if you make a switch but not the reward for making it.

flatfoot
07-12-2007, 10:00 AM
Hi,

I got a few private messages asking what we decided to do. Recall that we were the "club newbie" that was considering making the move from MPS to MAPLES with our U11 son. After a lot of thought, my son has decided to stay another year with MPS. It was exciting to have several excellent options, but also nerve-racking.

The things we saw from both MAPLES programs we considered:
- All coaches seemed very sharp and attentive
- In each MAPLE tryout, a coach made at least one 1-to-1 correction to my son's play on a personal level
- The commitment to development and training seemed very strong
- The level of commitment to competition, tournaments, indoor training
- The prestigue of playing MAPLES
- The advantage of getting in "on the ground floor" at an early age
- We think the overall level of play will be pretty high
- Cost was $1400

The things that we considered about MPS
- Lower-key, development based program
- Guaranteed equal playing time
- Emphasis on being compatible with town travel team play
- Our history with MPS and comfort level
- My son's reputation with the club (good) and being able to play with friends
- Overall level of play...perhaps not as high as some MAPLES teams
- Estimated yearly cost: $1000

The short of it is that we had no complaints about MPS last year, so needed to weigh the benefits of moving to MAPLES versus sticking with what we know. We saw a lot of pros and cons, but were comfortable doing either so we let our son make the choice (he wanted to stay with his friends).

What I didn't mention is that we are involved in another sport (with a club) during the winter which is extremely intense from late November through March. As parents, we were concerned about jumping into another heavy-weight club situation and run the risk of burning our kid out. So, MPS remains reasonable for us too, at least for one more year.

Having gone through the tryout process for the first time, we learned a lot. Had we known those things prior to tryouts, we would have done things differently and been more prepared upfront for the tryout schedule and process and how to evaluate the options.

I can tell you this forum is very interesting and very entertaining.

thanks for all of the advice!

Dad&Driver
07-12-2007, 02:15 PM
Sounds like you made a reasoned and well thought out decision for you and your child.

Best of luck.