How Much Soccer Costs (Price of Youth Soccer)

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Recently I’ve realized just how expensive youth soccer was. Many youth players enter club soccer in hopes of earning a college scholarship. 

For me, this dream became a reality. My scholarship covered my tuition and books for all four years and two years of room and board. 

Do youth soccer clubs need money?

Clubs charge a lot of money. It’s costly to play competitive youth soccer in the United States, and most clubs are for-profit. Clubs use the money on operational costs and pass on many expenses directly to the families. 

Why is youth soccer so expensive? Where is all of the money going? Here we explore the pay-for-play structure of youth soccer clubs and the money involved. 

Soccer field woman coach with and girl team training on grass in background. Sports youth development and teamwork a happy young female volunteer coaching soccer team with clipboard from Brazil. ○ Soccer Blade

How do youth soccer clubs make money?

Youth soccer clubs make money in several different ways. Some of the most common ways that youth clubs in the U.S. make money include:

  • Fees: Most clubs require players to pay dues to be on a team. 
  • Camps: Clubs will offer camps in the offseason to earn additional revenue. 
  • Raffles: Raffles are held at big club events for merchandise, private lessons, and more. 
  • Merchandise: Clubs often create and sell merchandise as well. 
  • Donations: Many clubs also take dontations from fans and players. 

How much does it cost to play youth soccer?

Parents pay hundreds to thousands of dollars to enroll their children in youth soccer. The price of youth soccer depends on the age, club, and league the child is in. 

The average cost of playing youth soccer is $1,472 per child, but elite clubs may range upwards of $10,000 per year. 

See also  Cost of Youth Soccer (Running a Soccer Team)

Those fees do not often cover travel expenses, additional tournaments, or uniforms.

If a child plays on a team in a league that travels around the country, they can expect to pay even more in travel expenses (flights, gas, food, hotels, etc). 

Youth soccer team celebrating a trophy win

Why is club soccer so expensive?

Club soccer in the U.S. runs on a pay-to-play model, contrary to most European clubs. Throughout Europe, kids do not have to pay much to play club soccer. 

Professional clubs often run academies and train players from an early age. Academy club soccer aims to develop players for the professional pipeline. 

Ultimately, European clubs are funded by the overseeing professional club and sponsors. 

  • Clubs outreach to local businesses and potential donors to get sponsors who will donate to the club in exchange for advertisement (on uniforms, at the field, etc). 

In the United States, sponsors are not as common for youth clubs. Furthermore, most youth clubs were not part of professional pipelines until more recently (MLS Next and some NWSL clubs). 

Instead, families of the players foot the bill for uniforms, league fees, coaching salaries, and more. 

How much money do youth soccer clubs need?

How much money a club needs depends on whether it is a non-profit or for-profit club. Non-profit clubs do not need as much money because they are not looking to earn a profit. 

Non-profit clubs are likely to play in less expensive leagues, have volunteer coaches, and receive donations for things like uniforms. 

On the other hand, for-profit clubs need a lot more money. For one, they tend to play inexpensive leagues and tournaments. Beyond that, they’re more likely to have paid, full-time coaches. 

Overall, how much money a youth soccer club “needs” depends on several factors, but it’s a lot more than many people realize.

It costs players so much because they are the ones footing the bill for club operations (rather than an overarching professional program or sponsors). 

Youth soccer team in a huddle

How does the money get used in a youth soccer club?

How money gets used by a youth soccer club will vary based on the structure of the club.

For example, some clubs provide uniforms as part of the club dues, while others make players order uniforms separately. 

Here are some of the ways money will be used in a youth soccer club:

  • Uniforms, depending on club policy. 
  • Insurance and coach safety training. 
  • Coaching salaries. 
  • Equipment like balls, cones, pinnies, hurdles, ladders, goals, etc. 
  • Field management, caring for the field and painting the lines. 
  • Building and/or maintaining state-of-the-art facilities. 
  • League and tournament fees (some may not be included in club fees).
See also  Do Academy Players Get Paid (Youth Soccer Salaries)

One of the largest expenses a youth soccer club may face is coaching salaries. Many competitive youth soccer clubs have paid coaches, and the top clubs tend to have full-time coaches. 

Salaries vary, but coaches who have teams that compete nationally (the National League, ECNL, DA, MLS Next) are likely to be paid the most.

  • According to Glassdoor, the average base pay of a youth soccer coach is $44,403 per year, however, salaries may be up to $74,000 or higher.  

Another huge expense many clubs face is related to facilities. For one, clubs may have to rent fields or facilities. If they own any, then they must pay to maintain them.

The cost to maintain natural grass varies, but an example is

“A native soil high school soccer field located in Indiana that hosts approximately 120 hours of events annually will spend up to $9880 on materials, $1570 on equipment and 143 hours of labor.”

Glass Door

Beyond that, many clubs are looking to add more updated facilities to attract players and offer competitive training year-round. 

Clubs will only have the ability to host high-level leagues and tournaments if they have exceptional facilities.

Clubs in cold climates will need to pay to rent or build indoor training space for winter sessions. 

Soccer players doing plank exercise drill girls training team working on a fitness workout. ○ Soccer Blade

How much does it cost to start a soccer team?

Many people set out with dreams of improving the system by starting their own team or club. Beware, starting a soccer team is not a lucrative project. 

First, you’ll need somewhere to hold practices and host games. At first, building your own soccer park is probably not realistic.

Most new teams and clubs will rent until they can save up enough to build their own park.

Rent Costs

  • Renting costs vary by location, but for example, it costs $85 per hour and $170 per game to rent an outdoor athletic field from National Sports Center in Minnesota. Renting a synthetic field costs $125 per hour.  

Registration Costs

Registration is another critical fee. You must register your team with a governing body, like US Youth Soccer, US Soccer, or USSSA. Fees vary, but they are around $150 per year per team. 

Furthermore, most leagues require a program fee as well which will depend on the league your team is in. Most tournaments will also have a team fee. 

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League Fees

League fees do not often cover referee fees. That means you can expect to have to pay the center and assistant referees each game. For a U17-U19 ECNL game, referee fees are a total of $175 per game. 

Equipment

Your team will also need equipment and uniforms. While you can pass the cost of uniforms onto players if you want, you will still need cones, balls, pinnies, and other soccer equipment to run effective training. 

Coaches

Coaches will be another cost unless you hire volunteer coaches. The commitment and expertise required for coaching highly competitive teams typically require an experienced coach. 

If you choose to coach the team as a volunteer, you will have less time to oversee operations. 

Travel

Travel is another huge cost teams face, which is often passed on to players as well. Depending on what league and tournaments your team does, you may incur expenses for gas, buses, flights, etc. 

When starting a club, you must also consider how you will attract players. Likely, you’ll need to invest in some marketing.

Top clubs have a good social media presence, run targeted ads, and work to get their name out there. 

Ultimately, starting or running a youth soccer team in the United States is very expensive. In the current pay-to-play model, the cost of running the club is essentially passed on to players. 

Many times, the club fees do not include travel, additional tournaments, or sometimes even league fees. 

8e83cfb63d54c9260fa694b185c6bca8?s=150&d=mp&r=g ○ Soccer Blade
Soccer Analyst and Publisher at Soccer Blade | Soccer Blade

Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.

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Youth Soccer FAQ

How do you know if a youth player is good?

A youth player is great at soccer they will have some of these qualities; ball control, endurance, speed, movement, strength, leadership, creativity, attitude, will to play, and will to win.

How can a parent support their child in soccer?

+ Play for fun with them. Don’t “coach” or “train” your child, just play soccer games with them!
+ Take them to soccer games. Getting kids around soccer is one of the best ways to grow their love for the sport as well as their game IQ. 
+ Sign them up! No matter what level your child is at, there are opportunities to play.
+ Choose the right level. If you want to help your child, choose a team/level that suits their abilities and interest level. 
+ Be the biggest cheerleader. Leave the coaching to the coach. As a parent, your job is to encourage your child and support them.

Do youth players get paid in America?

Players in the United States only get paid for playing soccer when they sign a professional contract. This is normally possible when a player turns 18 years old. In Europe, it is common for players to earn a salary when they are 16 years old.

What are the roles and responsibilities of a youth soccer coach? 

+ Selecting a team
+ Organizing training sessions
+ Communicating with parents
+ Scheduling practices
+ Scheduling games
+ Registering for tournaments/leagues
+ Attending league meetings
+ Administrative duties (e.g. registering players)

What are the youth soccer levels?

The youth soccer pyramid is now incredibly complex and often confusing. There are three separate organizations (USYS, USSSA, and US Club Soccer) sanctioning several divisions for youth soccer players, resulting in multiple high-level youth leagues. 


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