91st Pickup Soccer

The 91st: Getting Into Pick-up or League Soccer

The 91st is an OrlandoCitySC.com blog that aims to approach the worlds game with a laid-back and relaxed approach. We’ll cover topics that range from our favorite hairstyles on the team to today’s post about getting yourself involved in the game. Do you have an idea for a post or would like to contribute yourself? Email us here.

Soccer is the biggest sport in the world and it is constantly growing year after year. It is a sport that is accessible to all different types of age ranges and it is never too late to start. It doesn’t matter if you can do three-hundred keepie-ups or if the sight of a soccer ball rolling towards you makes your stomach drop, the first step in starting your venture is simply getting involved. Joining in on some social soccer activity in your area is the best way to get started and a great way to meet new people.  Lace up your cleats, leave your timid nerves on the sidelines and sub yourself in.

The Pick-Up Game
Pick-up games are no place for discrimination of skill level. You will find all different types of players out on the field, especially those looking to unwind on weekdays after long days in the office. Finding a good game is not a hard task, you just have to know where to look. A good start is by becoming friends with people who are involved with the sport; whether they watch it, play it, or simply fantasize about becoming player of the year in their FIFA season, they will all know people who like to play.

The most important thing to remember about pick-up games is that it’s all about fun. These games are a little more relaxed than the league setup we’ll talk about later, and you are able to come and go as you please. Orlando City’s resident pick-up soccer expert Ville Valimaa plays a lot of pick-up games organized through the University of Central Florida and explains that “people come and go, and there are a lot of different people that show up to play in the games.”

Social Media is a Solid Teammate
Social media is your friend when looking for pick-up games. Try a Google or Facebook search for terms like “Pickup Soccer (insert city here)” and you will likely find plenty of pages informing you where you can hop in a game and when. There are pages that cover formal pick-up leagues that play once or twice a week if you’re looking for a little commitment, or you can find the whereabouts of random games to join in when you feel like stretching your legs a little.

Hone Your Skills—Join a League
After playing in pick-up games consistently your confidence will start to build. These pick-up games have often consisted of uneven sides, a lack of official score-keeping, and irregular schedules. Joining an official league can often rectify some of those problems.

Doing a simple Google search for league in your area should give you a solid starting point. There are often fees associated with these leagues, but they can sometimes include things like team jerseys or pro shop discounts.

Tips for the Newcomers
When going to your first pick-up game you may be wondering what you should wear, what you should bring, and how you should approach the people you will be playing with. We’ve got you covered with some of our top tips below.

  • Stay Hydrated: Make sure you bring a refillable bottle for water when you’re feeling the imminent exhaustion: Pick-Up games can last for hours if there is no designated timekeeper and you don’t want to be catching a ride home in an ambulance.
  • Who Do You Support? Wearing you favorite team’s jersey will entice people to question your choice, positively or negatively, but either way a little banter is just part of the game. Orlando City’s Jhamie Chin, who plays at XL Soccer in Orlando, stresses the point, “Don’t be the guy that comes out in the full kit.” It’s a great conversation starter to represent your beloved Orlando City by pulling on your purple jersey, but if you wear the matching shorts and socks, other players might be skeptical about passing you the ball.
  • Be a Hero: Bring a ball. It doesn’t matter how blindingly bright your cleats are — if there is no ball, there is no game. Disclaimer: Don’t invest too much money into your ball, you will find that these become somewhat disposable when you return home after a game and realize you left it behind.
  • You’re a Keeper: Ninety percent of the players that you will be joining are looking to be the next Messi or Kaká, but very few will be strapping up the gloves in order to follow in Tim Howard’s footsteps. Bring a pair of gloves and hop in goal; you will be sure to get a lot of game-time.
  • Be Well-Equipped: Some people you meet up with will prefer to play indoor, others enjoy the feel of the grass a little more, but either way make sure you have the correct type of footwear for the occasion. You’ll want cleats for outside play, and flats/sneakers are often required for indoor. Shin pads are rarely necessary unless the league specifically requires them.
  • Confidence is Key: When going out to join a pick-up game, the most important thing to keep in mind is that nobody will judge you. Stay confident, join in whenever possible, and have fun.

September 11, 2020: Major League Soccer has announced the 2020 regular season schedule through the end of September. From September 18-27, each MLS club will compete in three regular season matches. Additional 2020 MLS regular season matches will be announced pending further developments regarding travel protocols. Attendance at matches will be determined in accordance with applicable state and local guidelines.