Development Philosophy

More about our development philosophy

Agenda and objectives for player development: An Age-Appropriate Model

U5-U6 Agenda

Main Theme

"Me and my ball" (for u5's: sometimes "Me just doing my own thing")

Technical focus

The technical focus is on dribbling. Not just dribbling to go past opponents, but to keep and protect the ball against opponents. We must teach players to be comfortable manipulating the ball with both feet, with or without pressure.

We do not actively teach passing at this age but the environment we create and the behaviors we teach do facilitate many of our young players to start passing at earlier ages than they otherwise would in other youth soccer programs. DO NOT DEMAND THAT PLAYERS PASS THE BALL AT THIS AGE. Doing so too early can backfire by creating players who are uncomfortable with and even afraid of having the ball. The decision to pass the ball or dribble should always be left up to the player. If players do decide to pass, it should be to give the ball to a buddy who is in a better position or has more time and space, never to "get rid" of the ball under pressure.

Main Technical Focus

  • Always look up after receiving the ball before you try to do something with it
  • Dribbling in a straight line at pace with both feet*
  • Dribbling to change direction/avoid an opponent with both feet*
  • Dribbling to go past an opponent with both feet*
  • Protecting the ball from the pressure of an opponent

*In the early developmental stages it is normally very easy to get gets to use both feet. Kids will naturally want to use their dominant foot, but can easily use both when encouraged/reminded by coaches and parents. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT because once a player achieves a measure of competence with just one foot, their tendency will be to avoid using the other foot as much as possible. A one-footed player will not be able to compete at a high level of play when they get older.

Individual Tactical Focus - Attacking

"Attack, attack, attack!" + "Keep the ball". Players should be encouraged to go forward and attack via dribbling from almost everywhere on the pitch, even if losing the ball or mistakes might lead to a goal against. Players should be heavily discouraged from simply kicking the ball down the field. Passing is not to be demanded or emphasized at this age but players may pass if it is THEIR choice to do so.

Individual Tactical Focus - Defending

"Go get the ball!" The only focus defensively at this age is on having an aggressive mentality and encouraging a willingness to put immediate and constant pressure on the attackers. Teaching defensive discipline or patience is not a priority at this age. The focus should be on encouraging timid players to be more aggressive and on making sure that aggressive players are staying in control and not challenging recklessly

Team Tactical Focus

"Team Shape" The concepts of team shape will be introduced as a triangle formation. Team shape will only be emphasized on restarts (Goal kicks, throw-ins, corner kicks, kick-offs, free kicks)

U7-U8 Agenda

Main Theme

"Me and my ball. And a teammate too"

Technical focus:

We must CONTINUE to teach players to be comfortable manipulating the ball with both feet, with and without pressure. But dribbling DOES NOT mean just putting the head down and charging blindly towards the goal, it also means being able to hold onto the ball under pressure of an opponent, and to avoid and escape that pressure too.

Proper passing and receiving techniques will also be introduced at this age and shall be practiced each week, either in the Academy or individual sessions. It is still normal for players to do a lot more dribbling than passing at this age group, but players should also become increasingly aware of the options their teammates present when they receive the ball. Adults should not prompt players to pass but let them decide for themselves, and the ball should only be passed to a teammate who is in a better position to attack or has more time and space, and should not be passed just to "get rid" of the ball when faced with pressure.

Main Technical Focus

  • Always look up after receiving the ball before you try to do something with it
  • Dribbling in a straight line at pace with both feet*
  • Dribbling to change direction/avoid an opponent with both feet*
  • Dribbling to go past an opponent with both feet*
  • Protecting the ball from the pressure of an opponent (shielding)

Secondary technical focus:

  • Passing and receiving with the inside of the foot with both feet*
  • Tackling

*In the early developmental stages it is normally very easy to get gets to use both feet. Kids will naturally want to use their dominant foot, but can easily use both when encouraged/reminded by coaches and parents. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT because once a player achieves a measure of competence with just one foot, their tendency will be to avoid using the other foot as much as possible. A one-footed player will not be able to compete at a high level of play when they get older

Individual Tactical Focus - Attacking

"Attack, attack, attack!" + "Keep the ball". Players should be encouraged to attack via dribbling from almost everywhere on the pitch Players should be encouraged to think about identifying and exploiting the easiest route to the goal (hint: it's usually not a straight line). Players should be heavily discouraged from simply kicking the ball down the field. Advanced players should be encouraged to look for teammates to pass to, but passing should not be demanded by the coaches. The choice to pass or dribble should always be left to the player.

Individual Tactical Focus - Defending

"Go get the ball!" + "Get Goal Side". The continued focus at this age is on having an aggressive mentality and encouraging a willingness to put immediate and constant pressure on the attackers. Development starts on the concept of getting "Goal Side" (between the ball and the goal) when the opponent has possession

Team Tactical Focus

"Space Management" New this year will be the teaching of "Space Management" ideas that our Program Director Scott Nelson has brought back to Tacoma after five weeks of studying youth development in Barcelona. These simple and innovative techniques, if used regularly, will help players learn to spread out and support each other

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