Celtic FC Bolts, club soccer survival guide for parents, tips for club soccer parents

Surviving Club Sports: 26 Tips for Parents

Club Sports Motto for Parents: Be Prepared

September was a blur of soccer, back-to-school events and more soccer. For the first time, my two girls decided to double their soccer by adding a club team to their town travel team. My son also decided that he was done with karate and replaced those slots with more soccer.

It was a shock to our system as parents to go from 7 soccer events a week to 15 and we did not handle it particularly well. As club soccer newbie parents, it was and is a whole different world and so I offer you my advice, albeit from my shell-shocked perspective.

Now half-way through the season, the best advice I received from veteran Club Soccer parents is this:

“You have no life except driving your kids around, but it’s a short season.”

Is it worth it? For the first time, my oldest , Grasshopper and Sensei, has a professional soccer coach and she’s learning so much with a group of nice girls who love the sport as much as she does.

And my middle child, PickyKidPix,  who was shy and nervous at her first club practice, has bonded with her team. Last week, instead of waiting in the car for her practice to begin, she insisted on jumping out of the car into the rain and the dark night, 10 minutes early.

“I see my people,” she announced.

And off she ran into the rain and the dark night, her soccer backpack huge on her small frame. Her “people” were there … a few girls, also early, in their same blue practice uniform. The coach had not yet arrived. As she ran to them, they jumped up and down in excitement to see each other, hugging and exuberant. Then, with no adult assistance, they happily organized themselves into a soccer drill.

That’s why I’ve logged in so many driving miles that I show no savings through my Progressive Snapshot (ok, and perhaps other reasons too!). And we’ve resorted to soupy, stewy meals that we make ahead and freeze. These days, we only get one family meal a week if we’re lucky, since our kids are coming home late — 8:30 and even as late as 9:30 at night.

But my daughter found her “people.” Who can argue with that?


If I knew then, what I know now, this is what I’d do to be prepared:

In The Car

Games are further away than town travel. I used to think a game one hour away was an outrage but that was before I found out that one of the club soccer games was in Portland, Maine — more than two and a half hours away ONE WAY! And, naturally, there were no toilet facilities. Not a one Not even a Port-A-Potty. (That’s why I now keep toilet paper in  my car.)

Not all the games are this far, of course, but our “home field” is 40 miles away. Therefore, my advice is to stock your car and stock it well! I am living out of mine!

Umbrella – For the parents because the game is on unless there’s thunder and lightening.

Rain gear for parents – I think we get colder than the players watching from the sidelines.

Towel – To dry off your wet player for the ride home.

Blanket – As the season goes on, the temperature drops.

Toilet paper – Not all the fields have a Port-A-Potty, let alone a flush toilet.

Sunscreen – A game with warm up can take 3 hours and sometimes the games are back-to-back which means 6 hours on the field.

Insect repellent – At one practice, a swarm of mosquitoes came out of the ground that resembled plague conditions.

Food – One of my kids will throw a nutty after a game if it’s past her mealtime and there isn’t a snack to feed her.

Extra water – You really don’t want to drive around an unfamiliar and remote town in search of water if your kid runs out.

Extra layer for parents – It may be warm when you first arrive but the temperature can drop 20 degrees by the time you leave.

Money –  For food on premises or ice cream truck.

Chair – A chair with a canopy will often provide the only shade on the field and serve as built in umbrella as well.


In The Sports Bag

Snack – More food to prevent post-game meltdowns.

Ice pack – Those chemical ice packs that turn cold when you shake them are genius!

Bandaids – For blisters

Sunscreen – SPF 30 and waterproof.

Home and away uniforms – Bring everything in case the other team shows up in the same color.

Waterproof Jacket – Kids don’t seem to think they ever need or want this but believe it, they will when it rains torrentially and the game is still on.


Logistics Expertise

I am directionally challenged so I might have more advice that you’ll actually need!

  • Don’t trust your navigation system especially for remote fields. The directions from your team are usually better.
  • If you don’t have a car pool the first few weeks, fear not. One WILL come together especially if you check the field who else is practicing at the same time from your town.
  • Keep coaches’ cell phone number handy in case you get lost or they are running late.
  • Have a designated parent as back up coach in case the coach is late or his/her car breaks down.

Is There a Doctor on the Field?

My oldest daughter, 12-years-old, has had issues with weak ankles and loose knees that turns out to be fairly common, especially for girls who are going through growth spurts. We found these over-the-counter remedies helped a lot but when in doubt, get a doctor’s opinion, of course.

Ankle support – This soft lace up ankle support gives support while allowing your soccer player full mobility. If your player is prone to sprains, this really helps! It was recommended to us by the BC Soccer Coach who herself had suffered from weak ankles.

Stretchy band – To tighten the ankle back up, do strengthening exercises using a stretchy band. Your player can do this while studying or reading a book. Hook the stretchy band around a chair leg or bed post. Then form the letter of the alphabet with weak foot. Make the letter A with your foot, then B, then C … do this every day for 15 or 20 minutes.

Knee support – My Nurse Mom Friend suggested a neoprene knee support and it’s really helped. It’s like a Neoprene sleeve and there are no hard parts so it’s perfect for soccer.

My daughter’s friend uses this smaller one. She borrowed it the time she left her knee support at home and it works great too!

Gel heel pad – Other soccer parents swear by gel heel support pads for foot problems.

Click on image to view at Amazon.

Celtic FC Bolts, club soccer survival guide for parents, tips for club soccer parents


By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Giora

    Thanks for covering soccer for girls, boys and their parents. In my second YA fiction the heroine, 17 yrs old Petra, plays soccer in her high school team .. so about 7% of my novel is about soccer. I describe three games. Like you, her mother is a soccer mom but not much traveling because there are many high school girls’ soccer teams in NYC. I guess because you children are still young there are not enough soccer teams in their area .. which surprises me. Boston is a big city, so I thought that there will be many soccer teams for kids close to your area. My novel covers books and movies about soccer appropriate for girls and boys and if you wish .. I can list some of them here. Just wondering, did you learn to play soccer as well and your husband learn to play some soccer, so that you can play with your children close to the house?
    Giora recently posted…Bonn, Jena + German songsMy Profile

    • Hi Glora,
      Your book sounds great! If you can send me a copy, I’d love to review it!

      We travel a lot of club soccer I think because of the league we are in. It’s not really us but the teams of the same level in Maine and New Hampshire that don’t have enough soccer teams in their area. But since they are in our league and they don’t mind the driving, we have to go for our away game.

      I never played soccer as a kid but my husband did through high school until he switched to play competitie golf.

      Thanks for coming to my blog!

  2. Giora

    It’s long novel of 290 pages, so too much to read now. I’m making a file of the 20 pages about soccer and send to you. The pages include summary of books and movies for girls interested in soccer.

  3. kim

    What a great story. I love that list. I am going to forward it to a coupld of my friends. We are experiencing Cub soccer for the first time this year too.
    My twin boys have played park and rec soccer for a couple of years. It isn’t their favorite sport but thier good friend was going to play club soccer and thier favorite coach was going to be one of the coaches. Needless to say, we ended up signing up for Fall Ball baseball too. Thier games are on Sundays. Baseball is thier favorite sport. Soccer games are mostly always on Saturdays. Only one time did they overlap– two soccer games on Saturday and one soccer game in Portland, OR on Sunday and then rushed 45 minutes away to a double header for Fall Ball ( 4 hours with 15 min between games). That was too much and I can’t believe we played five games in one weekend. I love that soccer games are only 1 hour long— baseball is 2 hours and just really long…. We don’t have weekends much but it all ends Sunday!
    kim recently posted…Surviving Club Sports: 26 Tips for ParentsMy Profile

    • Hi Kim,
      We’ve never done baseball but I heard the games are long. Whew! You do sound busy! Thank goodness the madness is ending soon! But I hae to say taht we’ve been happy with Club Soccer coaches and team mates. Overall, it’s been a great experience but just a lot of driving!

  4. Jeanette from Artchoo

    Wow, woman. That is an insane amount of soccer, but you just do what you have to do for your kids and enjoy watching them thrive. I thought my step kids had busy schedules with all of their sports…..
    Jeanette from Artchoo recently posted…Cool Kid Wall ArtMy Profile

  5. Tina

    Hi, this story is very useful for all parents,
    Thank you.

  6. Good compilation. A must have and a must read for sports moms and dads. Thanks for sharing your story, too! Found it useful.

  7. Amazing blog! This contains very informative and useful tips. Thank you! Great work!

  8. awesome work!! looking forward to read more!! cheers!

  9. It helps me a lot and your list awesome too! thanks a lot!

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