Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Answered Questions

1. What is the difference between A3's soccer program and others in the area?

The major difference between A3 and other soccer programs in the area is the level of commitment by the club to the community and kids. A3 offers opportunities for all kids regardless of skill - whether they're ready for premier teams or just looking for recreational leagues.

  • A3 soccer fee covers experienced licensed coaching combined with professional oversight from some of the world's finest professional trainers to emphasize player development.
  • A3 offers more for less. The cost of playing for A3 is far less, in most cases, than comparable clubs in the area. In most travel soccer cases, it is thousands of dollars less. The average cost for a travel soccer program in the Washington DC area is nearly $3,000 and for a recreational program it can cost you several hundred dollars per year. At A3, we believe that we can provide you the same opportunities for a fraction of the cost. Our Premier program fees are about a third of the average club and our recreational program will average at less than $140 per season. How do we keep our costs down? We don't charge for field rentals or pay exorbitant coaches fees.
  • A3 has a unique partnership with world-class West Ham International Youth Academy which allows us to leverage their training curriculum and their coaches/trainers to work with our players. Over the years, we have had multiple West Ham International Academy Trainers fly in from London to provide an ID session for our players. In 2015, 22 of our players were invited to a West Ham National Camp. See what it is all about:
  • A3 is committed to offering opportunities for toddlers all the way through high school and even beyond.
  • A3 is one of the most successful clubs in Anne Arundel County with numerous teams in the highest divisions of the most competitive leagues in the area.

2. What is the difference between the Premier and County teams?

There are two types of soccer teams sponsored by A3 County and Premier.

A3 Premier teams are for kids who possess above-average skills, determination, and competitive spirit. The A3 Premier teams play in the Elite Development Program (EDP) and Super Y League (Super Y) the area's premier youth soccer leagues. A3 Premier teams will usually consist of the age group's most skilled players. Being flexible about what competitive level each team plays in is a reflection of our commitment to individual player development and putting players into the most competitive environment. Why are Premier teams sometimes called travel or select soccer? Our teams are all competitively selected (therefore "select") and travel to games throughout the DC or Baltimore metro regions (therefore "travel").

  • Commitment - Premier teams require a one-year commitment spanning from the fall season through the spring season. Most teams will also play one or two indoor soccer sessions during the winter. Teams who play in these leagues must be ready for fierce competition and a realization that teams must win to avoid relegation.
  • Player Movement - players identified as having the requisite skills and commitment to move up in terms of competitive levels may be offered the opportunity to do so throughout the year; however, this should be done with the least amount of disruption to the age-group (i.e. - winter break). It is important for coaches work together to avoid intra-age group recruiting. Coaches who desire to move a player based on demonstrated skills/commitment (in the middle of the soccer year) should read the Premier Handbook and follow directions.
  • Playing Time - players must understand that playing time on a Premier team is not guaranteed. Playing time must be earned and it usually depends on a player's ability, game situations, and commitment.
  • Eligibility - our Premier teams are not limited to our "intramural or county" league players. Players from throughout the local community are eligible to tryout and play.
  • Positions - players will be placed in the positions that best help the team succeed. The coaching staff will make decisions based on team needs, an individual player's skill set, and what is seen in practice throughout the year. Parents and players should refrain from requesting positional changes.
  • Games - EDP games are during the weekends with some rare weekday games. Super Y games are completely during the summer. Teams will usually play four home games and four road games per season.
  • Playing other sports - A3 Soccer encourages and offers the unique opportunity to play multiple sports with our Crofton Athletic Council partners - baseball, softball, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, field hockey, etc. We strongly believe that young soccer players should be playing multiple sports to allow their bodies and muscles to grow properly and avoid sport-specific injuries. The coaching staffs will generally work to accommodate schedules, however, all players should remember that playing on a Premier team is a serious and year long commitment.
  • Tournaments - Premier teams usually play in preseason and postseason tournaments. Most teams will play between four and six tournaments per year.
  • Uniforms - uniforms are purchased by the players on a two year cycle. Mandatory equipment - home jersey, road jersey, shorts, socks. Optional equipment - ball bag, track suit, etc.
  • Travel time - for the four/five road games per season may exceed 60 minutes.

A3 County Teams - are for kids that are interested in recreational, yet competitive soccer. A3 county teams play in the Anne Arundel Youth Soccer Association (AAYSA) league. A3 aims to sponsor one or multiple county teams per age group based how many kids register. County teams will be placed in one of multiple divisions by AAYSA, which are usually established, by skill level, to accommodate all participating teams. While we do our best to place teams in the appropriate division(s), the league makes the final determination.

  • Commitment - county team players need only commit to the team one season (fall/spring) at a time. It is possible that teams will play indoor soccer during the winter - your coach will keep you apprised. It is important to note that teams do not carry over from season to season.
  • Playing Time - coaches will attempt to ensure equal playing time for all players - in accordance with AAYSA divisional rules.
  • Positions - like the Premier teams, players will be placed in the positions that best help the team succeed. The coaching staff based on team needs, an individual player's skill set, and what is seen in practice through the year will designate the positions.
  • Games -
    • Fall - Fridays (U12) and Saturdays (all other age groups) with the exception of double header weekends.
    • Spring - Fridays (U12) and Sundays (all other age groups) with the exception of double header weekends.
  • Uniforms - uniforms for county players are purchased by the players.
  • Travel time - games are played throughout Anne Arundel County. Travel time for the four/five road games rarely exceeds 45 minutes.
  • County website for games and schedules.
Like most clubs in Anne Arundel County, we create county teams based on the total number of registrations. Every age group is dependent on the number of kids that register to play in a given season. There is a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes to make things work and it's more of an art rather than science. We work with the numbers and do our best to create competitive teams. Although we many times have to move players around, we're very proud that over the years, we've rarely turned away a player. County coaches are the quintessential volunteer coaches and many step up because no one else would. We're very thankful for their willingness to raise their hands to serve as coaches and role models. Parents should acknowledge that practice schedules are made based on the requests of the coaches and their respective schedules.

How should I choose between Premier and County?

A3 strongly recommends that all kids attend the tryout sessions so they may be evaluated with other kids in their own age group. After attending the tryout sessions, the evaluators and age group coordinators will be able to determine the best team situation for all kids. If you have specific questions about your young player, you should contact our Director of Premier Operations.

3. How do you register players?

It is vital that parents monitor the A3 website to stay in tune with club registration information and deadlines. A3 will make every effort to accommodate all interested players.

4. How are teams formed?

Premier teams are formed though a tryout process in late May and June. Coaches and evaluators will base their selections on player skill, athletic ability, potential, fitness, and positive attitude demonstrated during the process. Premier players will receive notification of the results within a few days after the conclusion of the last tryout session. Players not called/selected for the Premier teams will be called later in the summer as the county teams are formed.

County teams are generally formed by skill level and total amount of players registered - especially in the fall. As previously stated, it is likely that A3 will sponsor multiple county teams across age groups. In the event there are not enough players registered in a particular age group at the county level, A3 may at it's discretion combine two age groups in order to field a team or decline to field a team in the age group.

5. How are the age groups determined?

Age groups are determined by the United States Soccer Federation and cannot be modified by A3 or any other member organization. Starting in fall 2016, all players were grouped based on their year of birth instead of school year.

Traditionally, youth soccer clubs have determined that players should not be "playing up" above their age level.  A3 acknowledges that with regards to county soccer teams and for a few Premier players, it may be in the best interest of a player's development to 'play up'. In this case, A3 will evaluate each situation and determine what is best for everyone.

It is strongly recommended that each player tryout for teams in their correct age group.

6. How does a player develop his skills?

Structured development takes place throughout the year in practice and in games. More importantly, however, is the unstructured time the players spend with the soccer ball on their own. Playing in the backyard, school ground, garage, etc. will provide them an unlimited amount of touches. It is during this time that a player will begin to develop his creativity, dribbling, juggling, moves, and ball control. The time a player spends on his own will directly correlate to how quickly skills develop. The club has a team-first approach that calls for the players to work on their individual skills as they relate to the team concept. Coaches will ask the players to focus on proper trapping which will lead to "positive" first touches - passes, shots, dribble, etc.

Parents should focus on what takes place during practice and away from the team structure in gauging the development of a player. Game day is merely the product of the time and effort put in during practice and on their own time.

7. What will it cost me?

The player registration fees are listed on the registration website and the total annual costs of the program should be considered before attending the tryouts. As with many soccer programs across the country, Premier teams are more expensive than recreational teams.

Futures - costs are per season - fees are approximately $40 (U04 & U05) to $125 (U06 to U07) per player and include a t-shirt.

Junior Academy - costs are per season - fees are approximately $140 per player and include a t-shirt.

County - costs are per season - fees are approximately $130 per player. Uniforms are purchased by the player and may be used for as long as they fit.

Premier teams - annual (includes Spring & Fall) registration fees are dependent on number of tournaments, coaching fees, etc.  The average costs for a Premier team in 2021 was $1500 for the year. (including tournaments).

8. When will the tryouts take place?

Every age group will hold open tryouts every year for Premier teams. It is not necessary to attend all tryouts but all players should plan on attending as many sessions as possible to ensure evaluators get a fair look the players. Players who are not selected for select team may have an additional placement session before the fall season starts in August. Older age groups will usually have less tryout sessions so it is important to monitor the A3 website for dates. Specific days and times will be announced (via e-mails, newspaper ads, flyers, etc.) during the spring.

9. How does A3 make decisions to close fields and cancel practices/matches?

Soccer is a sport which requires a quality playing surface and so keeping the fields in good shape is a high priority for the club. The decision to close fields (for practices or matches) is usually a collaborative effort between our facilities managers, coaches, and open source research. We take weather reports and forecasts very seriously and do our best to make sure we have a good understanding of what's happening with regard to the weather. For practices, we usually try to have a decision made and posted on Twitter by 2:00 pm. Games are a bit different as the leagues all have different requirements for cancelations. Some require a 2 hour notice, others a 3 hour notice, and some have an actual time (say 9:00 am) to call in the decisions. That requires that a club official go out to Bell Branch as early as 6:00 am on game days to make a decision. That helps explain why sometimes games are called off at 6:00 am but the sun is out at 1:00 pm. We make the best decision possible based on the information available to us at the time.

10. What can we do during the winter and summer?

Our club offers a variety of programs throughout the summer and winter to allow players to continue developing their indoor soccer for the younger age groups. The 5v5 league as well Talent ID nights are available for everyone. In addition, there are options for everyone.  Click on the Camps & Events link at the top of the page to see all of the different events and programs.

11. What can I do to help?

Volunteers - parents can volunteer to help out in a variety of ways. For select teams, coaches will likely require parents to assist with:

  • Field crew - lining the fields and tending to the corner flags
  • TSL - team sportsmanship liaison
  • Car pools - set up car pools for players that need rides for practices or games
  • First aid - maintain and ensure the team's first aid kit is always well stocked
  • Scorekeeper - to track the team's statistics
  • Fundraisers - to raise money for tournaments or equipment
  • Social coordinator - set up team functions and events

12. Why are goals locked at Bell Branch?

Our risk management guidelines follow the US Government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Guidelines for Movable Soccer Goals which were meant for all soccer organizations to follow.  In order for us to be compliant, our insurance consultants recommended we follow the above-referenced CPSC guidelines which state, “When goals are not being used always:  Place the goal frames face to face and secure them at each goal post with a lock and chain.”