Arkansas Comets FC Player Development Model
Philosophy:Player Development • Team Success/winning Come From Player Development • Club Provides the Environment to Nurture Development
Academy U11-U12 U13-U14 U15-U16 U17-U18 Philosophy:Player Development
Points of Interest:Academy • The Academy is intended to be a step between Rec soccer and Classic soccer. • It is intended to put young players in an environment where they can get good instruction, and play with players of similar dedication levels. • Games are used as fun ways to increase skill. While players learn to compete, the end result of games is less important than the development of players during the game. • Good athletes will likely play many sports. • Academy should provide an environment that keeps the best athletes interested in soccer, even if it is not their sole sport. • It is important to build the size of the player pool over the years of the Academy. • Many parents will be anxious to get to higher levels of competitiveness.
Player Development:Academy • Foot Skills • Dribbling with all surfaces of both feet. • Fast changes of direction • Coerver skills • Comfort with Ball • Shielding moving ball • 1v1 • Scoring • Proper shooting technique • Both feet • Ability to finish balls coming across goal • Willingness to take on defender to create a shot (1v1) • Ability to cross • First Touch • Ability to receive the ball fluidly (without stopping) • Ability to receive with both feet • Ability to control a bouncing ball on the run • Games • Small sided • Nurture the love to compete • Results not important
U11-U12 U13-U14 Academy U15-U16 U17-U18 U17-U18 Philosophy:Player Development
Points of Interest:U11 – U12 • Important to have a large player pool and continue to expand it through these years. • Ideally will have a Navy team and a White team in each age group. • Player pools are common in these age groups. Players may move back and forth between Navy and White teams for different events. • Sometimes players might be merged to make equal teams for an event. • Coaches need to view players in groups by ability levels (i.e. subsets of teams), and try to provide appropriate opportunities for those groups. • Top Navy players may need some opportunities to play or train with older teams (or girls may train with boys). • Other Navy players may need opportunities to play different roles on the White team. • Top White team players may need opportunities with the Navy team. • Other White team players may need specific technical instruction.
Player Development:U11 • Passing/Receiving • Ability to pass and receive with both feet • Accuracy may be poor. Focus on recognition. • Nimble feet for balls below the waist (don’t be a barricade) • Ability to use chest and thighs • Set Plays • Defending and attacking • Enough practice time to know what to do. • Scoring • Regular shooting and finishing work. • Organization around goal • First-time shooting • Ability to shoot with either foot • Heading • Proper technique • Ability to attack the ball (not let it hit you in the head) • Defending and attacking • Games • 8v8 • Backs, midfield, forward • Introduction of some stressful games (i.e. tournaments) • Goalkeeping • Specific training • Multiple goalies • Goalies play in the field too
Player Development:U12 • Passing/Receiving • 8v8 field starts becoming small. • Passing accuracy is important • Ability to relieve pressure important • Triangles around the ball • Recognition of “feet” and “space” • Possession • Ability to keep ball away from other team • Scoring • Scoring becomes harder • More emphasis on balls played in from the flank • 2v1 and 3v2 efficiency around goal • Playing balls behind the defense • Team Dynamics • Overlapping runs • Switching positions • Keeping shape of formation • Games • 8v8 and 11v11 • 8v8 better for touches on the ball • 11v11 better for playing time for large rosters (over 13) • Some 11v11 good for U13 prep • Goalkeeping • More emphasis on catching and not just blocking • Still multiple goalies that also play in the field
U11-U12 U13-U14 Academy U15-U16 U17-U18 U17-U18 Philosophy:Player Development
Points of Interest:U13 – U14 • 11v11 soccer begins. • Attrition usually begins to diminish the number of players • Puberty sets in and bodies start to change. • Former White team players emerge as key contributors to the Navy team. • Team tactics play a larger role. • Players need to start taking ownership of the team. • Parents are present less. Players are dropped off at practice. • Parents generally have developed a healthier perspective on the team and their child’s development...not as much stress. • It becomes harder to find new players. Many new players need financial and logistical help. • Parents must look out for the entire team, not just their own son or daughter. It takes a village to have a successful team.
Player Development:U13 • Game Dynamics • 11v11 • Big field…loads of space • Big goals – hard for goalies to defend • Goal kicks can be difficult • Possession • Ability to keep ball away from other team • Ability and knowledge to switch the field (play longer passes) • Movement off the ball • Checking to the ball • Scoring • Big goals means far shots can be effective • Combination play in attacking third • Organization around the goal • Risk taking in attacking third • Finishing crosses • Positions • Players should still develop in multiple positions • Team Dynamics • Formations (4-4-2, 3-5-2, etc.) • Fluid maintenance of team shape • Backs are not just destroyers. They have an active role in the attack. • Goalkeeping • Communication with backs is very important since goal is so big • Some not strong enough to take goal kicks, but should be trained to do so • Knowledge to punch in traffic
Player Development:U14 • This is it! • The team has made it to U14, where state champions qualify for regionals, and regional champions qualify for nationals. • Jr High starts for players, which throws in the added complication of school sports competing for the players’ time. • For those teams that stand a reasonable chance of winning their state cup, this should be the busiest year. • Teams need to seek out high level competition. That means traveling to events in larger cities (Dallas, Memphis, St. Louis). The team is trying to prepare for Regional-caliber teams. • Seasons should be longer. Winter activity is important (indoor or outdoor). • Regionals are in late June, so families need to plan vacations around that. • Travel expenses will be higher this year.
U11-U12 U13-U14 Academy U15-U16 U17-U18 Philosophy:Player Development
Player Development:U15 • High School Years Begin • The biggest change from U14 to U15 is that 9th graders can play HS soccer. • HS players cannot play club soccer during the HS season (Feb – early May) • A longer club season is recommended in the fall, and even into January. • Teams will have a matter of weeks between the end of HS and the state cup. • Players can play ODP during the HS season. This could add training time together in the spring, which is particularly important if your players aren’t in an extremely competitive environment in HS (most 9th graders will likely play JV). • As a coach you may want to push this and coordinate it with the state • At this age teams may be able to play in adult leagues, which could provide some local other outlets for local games. • Players need to decide if college soccer is of interest to them. HS course work needs to align with this goal. Players can also begin investigating schools and soccer programs.
Player Development:U16 • College Aspirations • The season logistics are much the same as U15, except that now a team should be seeking to attend college showcase events. • This is tricky because college coaches aren’t out recruiting during their season (fall), and they aren’t going to Arkansas HS games (spring). • The prime exposure time for our players is late November until the end of January, and then again in May and June (possibly July). • Players need to know if they are interested in playing college soccer. • Players need to research schools and make a LONG list of schools that interest them. • Players need to make contact with college coaches. • Players should get input as to where they fit in the college soccer hierarchy. • If a player has a specific school he/she is very interested in, it is wise to find out what tournaments that coach will attend. If the team is not attending those events, the player can look for guest playing opportunities.
U11-U12 U13-U14 Academy U15-U16 U17-U18 Philosophy:Player Development • College preparation and exposure to college scouting.
Player Development:U17 • Recruiting • This is the main year for college recruiting. • Players should narrow their list to about 5 schools. • Players need to be proactive and initiate communication with coaches. • Coaches cannot initiate communication with players until after the July following their Jr. year. • Many DI schools will have their recruiting classes done this year, so players need to initiate the contact with the schools, not just wait to be seen. • Coach should be in contact with schools and set up time for team to play in front of coaches. A great time for this is the summer, maybe traveling with another team.
Player Development:U18 • The Finishing Touches • Players not wanting to play college soccer may drop out and opt to just enjoy their Sr. year. This may make finding new players a necessity. • Some players who thought they wanted to play college soccer may change their minds and opt leave the game as well. • Remaining players will make final college decisions. • “Signings” will begin in February. • The priorities this year are the following: • Find college homes for remaining players that want to play college soccer • Keep the players competing at a high level so they are prepared for college the next year • There can be a lot of school social activities to work around this year.