(1) The Stages
- Ego-Centric. Children at this age like to know how things relate to themselves. This is a great time to encourage children to dribble, take players on, shoot, etc.
- Individual Skills
- Children need a solid base of technical skills to build on. This will be a large focus, in our youngest age groups especially.
- New Movements, Balance, ...
- Children shouldn’t be solely focused on the physical movements soccer demands. Even if soccer is the only sport some of our players participate in, we will be helping them improve balance, agility, etc. through sessions focused on these ideas, or as part of our regular sessions.
- Group Oriented. Players in these age groups are socially and developmentally more aware of how they fit into groups. With the technique developed in the younger age groups, they’re now much more prepared to work as part of a team.
- Team Skills. Just like individual skills were more easily developed in the earlier stages, progressing through passing is much easier to teach in the this developmental phase. Players are capable of seeing how interplay is effective and how movement of the ball can be used to move our opposition.
- Positional Groups. It becomes easier in these age groups to for players to develop their connections to the players around them on the field. It is easier for “Defenders” to work as part of a unit, for “Midfielders” to recognize their roles in connecting the left to right and the back to the front, etc.
- Goal Oriented. Players in this age group are able to consider where they want to be one day. It is easier to convince them to buy into a plan that will help them in the future. We want to help players set appropriate goals, find the right college, and more.
- Tactics. Players in this phase are able to alter a game plan, tactics, team shape, and impact the rhythm of the game though thoughtful interventions.
- Strengthening, Endurance Building, ... etc. Players are better prepared in these age groups to increase strength and stamina. Our preparations for match play will reflect this preparedness (and address the need for proper rest).
(2) Player Rotation
- All Positions: Players will learn all positions through experience (including Goalkeeper at 8U, 9U and 10U).
- If there is a player who wants to be a Goalkeeper, accommodations will be made.
- When possible, players will stay in the same positional lines through the course of any single match (ex: Line of Defense, Midfield Line, etc.)
- Players who are excelling at their current level will be afforded opportunities to play/train with teams at a higher level (or age group) as opportunities arise and coaches see fit.
(3) Academies In Age Groups
- Academy Settings
- Decisions to create an academy in any age group will be shared as early as possible if such opportunities arise.
- Teams at the younger ages will often be in scenarios where the opportunity to train as a larger group is possible.