CUSA Soccer

What is the difference between Recreational Soccer and Competitive Soccer?

CUSA offers several programs for players to participate in the sport of Soccer, but what is the difference between Recreational Soccer and Competitive Soccer?

US Youth Soccer expects that Recreational Soccer Leagues do not use tryouts, invitations, recruiting, or similar processes to build their teams. Instead, all participants are eligible, subject to reasonable terms on registration. A system of rostering players is used to establish a fair and balanced distribution of playing talent among all the teams. It is also expected that each player must play at least half of each game's total playing time, except for reasons of injury, illness, or discipline.

Competitive Soccer, also known as "Club Soccer," "Select Soccer," or "Travel Soccer" is meant for the aspiring player who wants to take their soccer experience to the next level. These players are usually more advanced then the majority of their peers, but that is not always the case. They are also usually required to tryout for their spot on a team, and not everyone is expected to play in every game.

These are some of the other areas that are different between these two types of soccer programs.


  • Recreational Coaches are usually parent volunteers who may have played soccer before.
  • Competitive Coaches are licensed and undergo extensive training on a continuous basis. They are also usually considered paid staff of a club.


  • Recreational Programs usually do not have formal lesson plans for training. The training is up to the individual volunteers who coach their teams. (NOTE: This is not the case with CUSA Recreational Programs. Our Director of Coaching and paid staff will be working with the coaches at combined training sessions to ensure that all players, regardless of which program they are in, receive age appropriate, quality training.)
  • Competitive Programs usually have prescribed lesson plans to ensure that the players are getting the appropriate training, based on their age and talent levels. These lesson plans are usually developed by a Director of Coaching and can be a great differentiator between programs.

Commitment Levels:

  • Recreational Teams usually meet once a week for practice and once a week for games.
  • Competitive Teams meet several times a week for both practices and games.


  • Recreational Programs are less expensive due to the amount of volunteers that are working together to make the programs' costs as low as possible.
  • Competitive Programs are more expensive as they need to pay their professional staff, tournament fees, travel costs, and more! Due to these higher costs, many clubs, including CUSA, have financial assistance available for those that need it to ensure that the cost of the program is not a barrier for the youth athletes that cannot afford it.


  • Recreational Programs usually have teams playing at the same fields within a small radius of their home communities. Occasionally they will play with teams from other recreational leagues nearby.
  • Competitive Programs usually require travel for many of their games. Sometimes this travel is to other states and requires overnight stays to participate in multi-day tournaments.


  • Recreational Programs usually provide a basic uniform jersey and socks used for games. Practice attire is usually any soccer appropriate clothing and safety equipment.
  • Competitive Programs usually require players to purchase their own, customized uniforms. The also may require that their teams wear club mandated practice jerseys and other soccer apparel, in addition to the required safety equipment.

Game Schedules:

  • Recreational Programs usually have a single game a week, usually on the weekends.There are usually 8-10 games in a given season.
  • Competitive Programs usually have games scheduled throughout the week. There are usually many more games in a season, especially at tournaments were teams may play 4 or more games in a weekend.

Both programs are important to the development of players here in the United States, but each has its own purpose. No matter which type of program your youth athlete is interested in, we hope you choose CUSA and discover why our organization has been the leading youth soccer organization for over 45 years.