Our Approach to Competitive Player Development
Competitive players deserve to have an independent and professional coach responsible for evaluating them. The Technical Director will assist head coaches to make these decisions in order to preserve the integrity of the environment we place them in. Competitive challenges are healthy for players and enable them to grow. We can and will challenge our players by allowing them the opportunity to move from group to group, and also between different age groups, when warranted by their play and personal progress. The goal is to create an environment that will stimulate the continued growth of the players by providing each of them with the opportunity to get to the next level of play within the club at any time. All such movement will be done at the sole discretion of the Technical Director and staff coaches.
We will focus our training, development, and evaluation of players on the four major components that make up a complete soccer player and closely monitor each player’s development.
A player’s individual technique and comfort level on the ball under conditions of limited time, space, and increased pressure.
- Receiving the ball
- Redirecting the ball Moving with the ball
- Moving without the ball
A player’s ability to make proper decisions with and without the ball based on an understanding of basic attacking and defensive principles; a player’s ability to read the game properly.
A player’s coordination, mobility, balance, speed, endurance, and strength.
A player’s mindset and motivation; how a player faces problems/ pressures encountered both on and off the field of play and how the player chooses to deal with those problems/pressures.
Player Development versus Winning
While we demand that our players strive to win every time they take the field for training or games, winning is not the primary objective for Euro Soccer Academy. Our primary objective is centered around, and driven by, the goal of developing individual high-level players in a competitive environment.
We believe that winning games will ultimately be a byproduct of our ability to develop well-rounded soccer players over time. Therefore, winning every game is not our primary objective and will not be how we measure our success. However, there are times when winning a particular game may be beneficial for a particular age group/team or the Academy in general. For example; state cup & high profile tournaments, etc.
We feel there are great advantages in developing individual players within a true sports environment. Our emphasis on our unity will be evident in everything we do, including:
- Consistent use of our club logo and colors.
- Uniform appearance of all players and staff at training sessions and games.
- Players are considered members of our “Academy” and not any particular “team”.
- Players are trained collectively by age group with movement of players from group to group.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
Phases of Soccer Development
Every child that is introduced to the game of soccer embarks on a journey of discovery; starting from the moment he/she first touches the ball. The ones that eventually develop into high-level players go through the following phases of growth, generally in the sequence shown:
Phase 1 — Introduction to Soccer
The first experience of organized play usually occurs anywhere between 4 to 12 years old. The player’s first exposure to teams, coaches, practices and games. The players first attempt at mastering the skills of the game. Soccer might not be the only sport played, as the player dabbles in many sports and activities. If the introductory experience was fun, the player might move on to phase 2. If the experience was not enjoyable, the player will likely drop out of soccer.
Phase 2 — Commitment to Soccer
If the introductory phase proves an enjoyable experience, the player will decide that he/she likes soccer and is keen to continue playing the game. The most common motivators for continuing to play soccer are a) discovering the freedom inherent in soccer, the players game – the freedom to run and do with the ball whatever the instinct dictates, b) a noticeable or rapid gain in skill, c) having a ‘fun’ coach, and d) enjoying the social aspects of team sport. It’s not necessary for all of the above four motivators to exist together for a commitment to be made. All it takes is one reason. And it’s not necessarily just the best players who make a commitment to soccer. Players of all abilities can fall in love with soccer and make it their sport of choice. Once a player chooses soccer as his/her main sport and commits to playing it on a regular basis, soccer becomes an integral part of the weekly routine and is ingrained into the family life.
Phase 3 — Commitment to Excellence
Once soccer is chosen as the main sport, players begin to acquire soccer idols as they spend more and more time watching high-level games. And with exposure to high-level soccer, come the dreams about emulating their idols. At this stage, many players start to compare themselves to their peers and begin to wonder whether they are good enough to play the game at a high level. Unfortunately, some players quit soccer at this stage, when the realization that they are not as good as their peers hit home. But some develop an aspiration to become top players and make a commitment to work on their game. They are hooked! A player who is committed to excellence trains on his/her own in addition to the normal team practices. He/she watches games intently, trying to learn from the best. He/she becomes self-analytical, constantly looking to improve, and basically eats, drinks, sleeps soccer.
Phase 4 — Commitment to Winning
This is the stage when a player reaches a high level of technical and tactical maturity and, with it, a competitive streak. The player is seriously looking at a college or professional career in soccer and therefore, sets high standards, both for himself and for his team. The player who is committed to winning has no patience for slackers, wants to play with other players of similar ability and drive, and is looking to constantly challenge herself in practice and in games.
The phases described above are intrinsically developed within each player. Adults cannot and should not push or ‘fast track’ players through these phases but rather allow the players to progress at their own pace. Some players show promise early while others mature later with time. It typically takes 6 to 10 years for players to go from phase 1 to phase 4. Adults cannot decide for the players in which phase they need to be. Let the players decide! Most players never progress beyond the first phase, let alone reach the fourth one. Our task, as a Academy, is to provide all our players the programs, resources and the opportunity to advance through the phases of development without putting any pressure on them. We must let our players decide for themselves how much they want to commit.
Evaluation is critical for a number of reasons. First, evaluation can help in team selection and recruitment. Evaluation can help coaches look for skill-development opportunities for their teams and individual players. Finally, evaluation can be used as a baseline to help players focus on their own development.
Layer evaluations time
- Parents and players should know the evaluation is coming.
- If you just throw it at them it can be very stressful for the young player.
- If the team has had a tough season the coach really needs to prepare because this can be tough on the coach if he or she is not ready.
- If you have a very successful team you might be dealing with some very happy players and some of the players on the fringes of the team might struggle with an evaluation.
- One other aspect that parents and players need to understand is that if the evaluation is done in written form the progress of the player is not set in stone, and can change with improvement or lack of improvement or attitude towards the sport.
Be honest and evaluations go smoothly...
Player evaluation process
When setting up evaluations...
- The parents will sign up in ten-minute increments via email or on paper and we will schedule a time for the players to sit down.
- I like to have kids play a game at practice while I sit with each individual player and parent.
- I call the players and parents out one at a time and run through their strengths and weaknesses.
How to evaluate a soccer player?
The four phases of a soccer game are...
- Technical - soccer skills.
- Tactical - How to play small sided soccer
- Psychology - How the players handle the game, teammates, coach and position.
- Fitness - Does the player have the endurance to last the duration of the game.