Frequently Asked Questions
What ages can play soccer with Ames Soccer Club?
The "age" of a soccer player is determined on August 1 of each year, and your "age" holds throughout the academic year until the next summer. The youngest players for the Ames Soccer Club are "U5 and U6" which stands for "Under 5 and Under 6" You have to be at least 4 years old on July 31 to play U5 because of insurance issues, but there is not a formal minimum age for any other year bracket. In the Fall, we run leagues U6 through U18. In the Spring, most of our 14+ year old players play high school, so we play U5 through U14. See the What's my Age Group page.
Who runs the Ames Soccer Club?
The ASC is a volunteer-based community organization run by its members, overseen by an annually elected board. There is almost always an open board position, so please feel invited to get involved! We have several part time paid coaches for our older teams, and our director of coaching and player development, Gary Eyles.
Who chooses the coaches?
We have a paid director of coaching and player development named Gary Eyles. Gary, who holds a USSF "A" License and is the lead coaching instructor for the Iowa Soccer Association, makes the hiring decisions for our staff coaches for the U11 and older program and for the skills coaches for the U5-U10 program. [Contracts are approved and signed by the club president.] Gary also selects the assistant coaches for the U11 and older teams. Parent coaches for the U5-U10 teams are chosen through a mix of volunteerism, Gary hunting down qualified parents, and the work of our U5-U10 commissioners.
If I sign my child up, how much will s/he get to play?
Our typical U5-U10 seasons are 8 games long, usually spread over 9-10 weeks because of holidays or weather cancellations. For all U5-U10 teams, everybody plays at least half of the game. Most teams, however, have fewer than double the number of players than are on the field at one time (and kids miss games for various reasons), so players get to play most of the game.
I've heard through the grapevine that Ames Soccer Club is "competitive". What does that mean?
Frankly, this is a misnomer for our younger age program. Our U5-U10 program (pre-K-4th grade) is strictly recreational. No scores are kept at games, and no standings are kept. We make no apologies for trying to teach your child to play the game well, but it is in an entirely "recreational" context.
U5-U10 team formation is based on schools attended and there are no sorts of "all-star" teams. We emphasize individual player development over trying to win as a team at these ages. We emphasize teaching soccer skills "the right way" in a fun, age-appropriate, game-based environment. We emphasize the importance of good sportsmanship with players, parents, and referees. There are no tryout or player evaluations of any sort. You just sign up and we get you on a team!
For our older players (beginning with the U11 year), we do run a competitive program, again with an emphasis on player development. Here, we do run tryouts, to conform to the league rules. This is designed not to exclude, but rather to place players sensibly on appropriate teams and to be able to place those teams in the various divisions within our league. The cost of the competitive program is higher, but each team receives direct professional coaching, both at practice and games.
Where/When will the games be?
The answer to this depends on the age of your player. The U5-U10 league is run by our club and known as the Central Iowa Soccer League. The great majority games are Saturday mornings with a few start times as late as noon. The majority of games are at the Hunziker Youth Sports Complex, with one or two in surrounding towns like Gilbert and Nevada. U7- U10 teams may enter tournaments at their option.
The older players (U11+) play in the Iowa Premier Soccer League (IPSL), run through the ISA. This league offers flexible rostering and flexible registration of teams, so that we can place our teams in divisions of appropriate competition level to ensure that players are challenged while at the same time having opportunity to succeed. These teams play some home games and some travel games and regularly enter tournaments. U11 and U12 "away" games are in the Des Moines area; U13 and older teams usually have 1-2 days of farther away games per season (e.g., Cedar Rapids). Some teams may play in the Greater Des Moines Junior Soccer League; the travel is similar.
Who coaches the teams?
U5-U10. Our centralized practice system means that every player and team has practices supervised by staff coaches. Parent coaches are the direct game-day coaches and also are expected to be leaders at the practices. Practice plans are given out in advance, from an age-appropriate curriculum designed by Gary Eyles. The staff coach makes sure everything is running well and offers individual instruction and coaching points. Please let us know if you are interested in being a parent-coach. We provide extensive support and coaching training opportunities.
U11-U19. At the older levels (U11 and up), which are more expensive, there is a professional coach for the team, assisted by a parent. The pro coach designs and runs all the practices. We aim for 100% game coverage by the pro coaches, but an assistant-coach run game occurs every once in a while when there are extensive game conflicts.
My child has signed up for soccer. When will I hear something?
The electronic registration provides you a receipt. If you do not get an electronic receipt, contact us immediately. Practice times are posted well before each season for the U5-U10 program, but you will typically also hear from us by email and/or from your coach a week or two before practice starts each season. For the U11 and older program, you will hear from the staff and/or parent coaches or by email from us a similar interval before practice is due to start.
All families are added to an email list to announce things like the first day of practice, game schedules, special events, and so on. Every player's family gets placed on an appropriate emailing list each season. We re-do the lists each season because so many people change their addresses.
We're going to our first practice next week. What should we bring?
A big smile. A water bottle. Shin guards with socks that cover them. A ball. (U5-U8: size 3; U9-U12: size 4; U13+ size 5) Sneakers or soccer shoes are ok, especially for the youngest ages. Cleats are strongly recommended for U9 and older players. Soccer cleats are different from baseball cleats in that they do not have a central cleat in the front toe area. If you have rubber baseball or multi-purpose shoes that have a central, front cleat, just cut it off. No metal cleats are allowed.
Are there special rules for the younger kids or do they play the regular game?
As part of the Iowa Soccer Association, we play "small-sided games" on smaller fields in our younger age divisions. We strongly endorse these small-sided games, because they give greater opportunities for every player to touch the ball and achieve success, something that is critically important for our younger players. There are some other simplifying rules as well. You can see all of them on the appropriate age group program pages, but here are the highlights:
- U6 plays 3 v 3 with no keeper. No penalty kicks.
- U8 plays 4 v 4 with no keeper. No penalty kicks.
- U6, U8, and U10 play with no "offsides" rule.
- U10 plays 6 v 6 with a keeper.
- U12 plays 8 v 8, but otherwise full rules
- U13 and higher play full rules.
What about tournaments?
Generally, U8 and U10 teams make the decision whether to play in extra tournaments on their own. We encourage teams to play in local tournaments, such as the Kohl's American Cup and Iowa Games, especially, but the decision is yours. Teams are responsible for their own entry fees.
The U11 and older teams sign up for tournaments at the recommendation of the Director of Coaching at the beginning of each season. Teams are responsible for their own entry fees and to cover the expenses of their Staff Coach if he/she attends the tournament. We often coordinate so that one coach can cover 2-3 teams.
Can my child play up? (or down?)
As a practical matter, the age groups correspond strongly with grade cohorts in school. As a general matter, we let kids who are young for their grade more or less automatically play with their grade-mates, even if they are technically "playing up" a year.
Kids who wish to play up because of ability or to challenge themselves need to get approval for that from Gary Eyles.
"Playing down" is less common, particularly in the U5-U10 age groups, where it generally requires a waiver from ISA.
The principal league in which our older players participate (IPSL) has a very liberal guest player policy. It is quite commonplace for us to use players who are a year older or younger to fill out a team for a particular weekend.