Player Development Pathway

Player Development Pathway

Active Start Stage (Ages 3-4): The fundamental areas of focus: support the physical, social, cognitive, and emotional developmental needs of young children through fun, creative, and imaginative programming. Children at this early age have developmental needs that are very different from those of older players, and thus require a learning environment that differs from “traditional” team sports programs.

FUNdamental Stage (Ages 4-7): The fundamental areas of focus: movement education, starting the process of learning to master the ball, and developing a love for the game.  Movement skills and technical development remain top of the agenda at this stage. At these ages, young players are eager, active and like to be on the go. These young players are starting to act more independently, but they still need parental approval, understanding, praise and encouragement. Pushing too hard or expecting too much can result in the child becoming tense and nervous. 

Areas of Focus:

· Fundamental Motor Skills

· Agility, Balance, and Coordination

· Introduction to mastering the soccer ball

· Individual technical ability

Foundational Stage (Ages 8-10): The fundamental areas of focus: mastering the ball, learning how to train properly, and creating a foundation for team work. This foundational or “learning to train” stage is a crucial time for developing advanced competency in basic techniques and this platform allows for the introduction of more advanced skills. Some basic tactical appreciation can also be introduced. Aerobic power should be introduced progressively after growth rate decelerates. It is also very important that children are encouraged to take part in unstructured play. The main activities are developing ball control while learning how to solve problems individually and with their teammates. Players learn several new activities that create a foundation for their training environment as they progress over the years. Different variations of passing & dribbling can build into higher level variations that help to develop technical abilities & combinational play.  

Learning to Compete (Ages U11-U12): The fundamental areas of focus: continuation of mastering the ball and learning principles of play. Players transition into a Training to Compete Stage now that a foundation has been set from previous years of playing. The tactical Principles of Attacking & Defending are introduced. Several of these principles are very complicated and at this stage of development the focus is creating a foundation based on these principles. Players must start to take individual responsibility for their development.  They must be working on their own outside of team training to reach their full potential as players.

· Principles of Attacking: Penetration, providing support, movement off the ball, width & depth, and improvisation/creativity.

· Principles of Defending: pressure & cover, delaying, balance/team shape, compactness, control & restraint (not diving in)

Training to Compete (Ages U13-U15): The fundamental areas of focus here is developing tactical concepts of the game while continuing to develop technical abilities. Training sessions will be similar from the previous stage with the areas of focus becoming more complex. We will continue to work on the development of fundamental and advanced individual skills. But players should receive more in-depth tactical instructions, particularly in understanding playing positions. Players should continue to experience different positions on the field but may begin to settle into a primary position. 
Training to Win Stage (Ages U16 & Up): The final phase of player preparation aims to maximize player performance in all aspects of the game. A player's capacities are becoming fully established while training to peak for major competitions. Training is characterized by high intensity and relatively high volume with frequent periods of rest. Team tactics should form a significant part of practice sessions. Position training is important, and players should be prepared for a primary position. Physical conditioning is also important for all players and training should be tailored to the physical demands of their position on the field. 

Active Lifestyle Stage (Ages 10-18): The Active Lifestyle stage provides an entry point to the game for older players experiencing the game for the first time or for those who enjoy playing for fun but do not wish to participate at the competitive or travel level. The focus is on providing a fun, safe, and developmentally-appropriate recreational soccer environment for players of all ability levels. As their needs, ambitions change, they may move up to experience the competitive level or remain at the recreational level throughout.