Frequently Asked Questions About FC Wisconsin

Question: How is the mission of FC Wisconsin unique and different?
Answer: FC Wisconsin was formed to provide a training and development platform for aspiring Wisconsin female soccer players based on a long-term athlete development philosophy aligned with the best teaching and training methodologies in the world.  Our program begins with a fun, developmentally-appropriate Youth Academy program, and ultimately culminates in participation in the ECNL - the top developmental and competition platform for the best youth female soccer players in the United States.  
Question: What is the committment required to play in the U6-U10 FC Wisconsin Youth Academy?
Answer: The most important things about U6-U10 soccer are simple!  The program must be fun, players should learn to love the game, and the time expectations need to be realistic and easily met by families!  This is done by using highly trained coaches, creating an environment of learning and excitement, and building a developmentally-appropriate training schedule and curriculum.  U6-U10 players at FC Wisconsin have 2 trainings per week (a third free clinic day is optional), play locally, and the cost is competitive and often less than other local clubs.  Click here for more information!
Question: Why is the different staffing structure at FC Wisconsin so unique and important to player development?
Answer: FC Wisconsin teams are coached with a program-based staffing model.  This means that every team has multiple coaches that work with the players every day.  This allows improved coaching ratios (the number of players per coach is lower), more specialized training, and for players to learn from and relate to different personalities and perspectives.  Quite simply, when there are more coaches working together, there is more individual feedback and more personalized attention for every player - which helps every player learn faster and develop more quickly.
Question: What is the basic ECNL schedule for U15-U18/19 teams?

Answer: FC Wisconsin is in the ECNL's Midwest Conference.  There are 8 clubs in this conference: Eclipse Select (IL), Elite Girls Academy (NB), FC Wisconsin, Michigan Hawks, Minnesota Thunder Academy, Vardar SC (MI), St. Louis Scott Gallagher - Missouri, and St. Louis Scott Gallagher - Illinois.  The conference seasion includes 14 ECNL games - 2 games against each conference member.  Approximately 7 games are played in Milwaukee at FC Wisconsin Soccer Park.  In addition, at U15-U18/19, each team participates in a number of ECNL National Showcase Events: 2 at U15, 3 at U16, 3 at U17, and 1 at U18/19. There is no comparable competitive or developmental schedule in the country.

Question: Why is playing in the ECNL different and important?
Answer: The ECNL is the most competitive environment in the country, and ECNL clubs are the top youth soccer clubs in the country.  ECNL teams include the vast majority of the future national team and Division I soccer players.  Every year spent in the ECNL environment is a huge advantage to players in their development, collegiate exposure, and personal growth.

Question: Why is the ECNL different than the MRL, State Leagues, or State Cups?

Answer:  ECNL clubs are selected based on their proven record of developing top players year after year.  Almost no ECNL players and teams play in other leagues, and ECNL teams do not play in state cup or regional cup.  Some people are confused when they see ECNL clubs with teams in the MRL, in state leagues or in state cups; these teams are the second or third teams within the club - not the ECNL teams.
Question: What age players are eligible for FC Wisconsin?
Answer: Any age!  FC Wisconsin has players from 6-18.  Below U13, teams play almost entirely in competition within the state.  The first formal ECNL age group is U13.     
Question: Why do ECNL teams play only in the ECNL, and play few, if any, games in other competitions?
Answer: Experts throughout the world have proven that the best player development model includes a training-to-game ratio of 3-to-1 or 4-to-1.  This is because training is where the vast majority of learning and development takes place; competition is where this learning is tested and measured.  Top players must play fewer, but more competitive games, instead of multiple average to below-average games.  The combination of increasing the number of trainings, reducing the overall number of games, and raising the quality of games, develops better players.  These are the players of the future, and the players of college soccer and youth national teams of the future.
Question: Can I play another sport and still play in the ECNL?
Answer: Yes! Many ECNL players have had tremendous success as youth and college soccer players while still continuing to play other sports.  At young ages (U13 and below), FC Wisconsin players frequently play other sports even in the fall.  At U15 and above players sometimes play a winter sport, and those who do so are careful in their time management and planning to make it possible.  FC Wisconsin coaches will speak individually with any player that wants to play another sport to discuss the best ways of doing so.

Question: Can I play high school soccer and still play in the ECNL and with FC Wisconsin?

Answer: Yes! FC Wisconsin offers an optional spring program for those players that prefer to play club soccer year-round.  We offer this program because of the importance of a year-round curriculum for maximizing development, and because many players in the club desire to participate in a year-round option.  If players prefer to play high school soccer, they are able to do so.

Question: Where does FC Wisconsin train?

Answer: FC Wisconsin has training sites in both Milwaukee and in Madison.  In the fall and spring, FC Wisconsin teams in Milwaukee train at FC Wisconsin Soccer Park in Germantown, and FC Wisconsin teams in Madison train in Verona.  During the winter, FC Wisconsin teams will train in gyms and indoor turf facilities around suburban Milwaukee or Madison (as appropriate).

Question: How do I know if ECNL soccer is right for me or my daughter?

Answer: This is a very personal decision.  Players come to this decision at different times in their life, but the most frequent age where players face and answer this question is somewhere between age 11 and 14.

The best way to make this decision is to ask a different question: “Where do I want my soccer to be in 5 years, and what do I want to be doing in soccer?”  If the answer involves playing Division I college soccer or beyond, the path usually becomes very clear.  The farther from this path you stray, the more difficult this goal becomes.  Asking this question early in your career, and spending serious discussion on the topic is invaluable.  Unfortunately, there is nothing more common in youth soccer than players who stay in a comfortable and social setting too long, or who make bad and uniformed decisions at key stages of their career.  Too frequently, when these players are "finally ready" to take the step into elite soccer, it is often too late.

The worst way to make a decision about your soccer career, (if you have aspirations of playing Division I college soccer or beyond), is to make a “group” decision or a "social" decision.  As players age and mature, (usually beginning at U13), individual priorities and focus changes.  Some players begin to prioritize soccer and embrace ambitions of playing at high levels, while others grow other primary interests and show lower commitment to the sport.   There is a reason elite soccer (or any sport for that matter) is structured as a pyramid, with a broad base that becomes increasingly narrow as players get older and move to higher levels.  “Group” decisions or "social" decisions reflect the priorities of the majority, and almost always skews towards players with lower ambitions or less focus on soccer.

Question: How do I distinguish between coaches and clubs to determine the right fit for me or my daughter?

Answer: Different coaches and clubs cater to different priorities.  FC Wisconsin was created to serve athletes and families with ambition to be great, and the answer to this question is focused on these athletes and families.

Soccer is filled with great salesmen – coaches that sound good, tell you what you want to hear, and promise lots of rewards and success without mentioning a word about the difficulties in the path, and the obstacles that are there.  (Read more here.)  So how do you make a good choice?

  1. Look at resumes.  Google the coaches.  See what they have actually done in coaching – not what they have talked about, or where they have played.
  2. Look to see if the coaches are involved in elite player development at a national level now – not 10 years ago.  Just like playing, coaching is a pyramid – only a few are working with the country’s best and there is usually a reason why they are.
  3. Look at whether the coaches are involved in the game at any level outside their club or community.  It is impossible to teach players to get to higher levels if you don’t understand the higher levels.  It is impossible to understand the higher levels if your primary reference point is your own club or community.

If you ask questions and listen to answers, and if you look … the path usually becomes clear.  Doing the research helps make the right decision.


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