By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching Instruction, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
For a youth player to fulfill his/her potential within the game, they must follow a developmental model. At the core of this model, in order of importance is:
1. The quality of the coach.
2. A well thought out developmentally sound curriculum for players to follow.
3. Playing and training facilities.
4. Quality players to train and play with and against.
Parents and players searching for a good developmental situation which may lead to individuals maximizing their potential and chasing their dreams may find the checklist presented below as a good roadmap.
Parent Checklist for Ensuring Player Development
The following checklist, broken down into the four key areas can be used to help parents identify what may be good development situations for their child.
1. The quality of the coach
US Youth National Youth License
USSF A License, B, C
NSCAA Master Coach, Premier, National Advanced
Teaching Degree and background, Master’s degree, Honors degree
High level Playing experience, professional, semi-professional, university career
Experience, years training, developmental record, player and team stats
Efforts to stay up-to-date, National staff, Educational staff, Associations and journals
2. Developmental curriculum to follow
Qualifications of author
Encompassing all ages from 5-18, understanding it’s a journey.
Appropriate ball player ratios, 2,237,000 touches by 18
Appropriate game formats from 3v3, 4v4, 6v6 to 11v11
Understanding and utilization of key concepts, economical training, periodization,
Use of key concepts from governing bodies, USSF, US Youth and NSCAA.
Understanding of competition v development debate.
3. Training and game facilities
Access to appropriate space, floodlit for year round training (minimum half field).
Access to extra equipment, shooting goals, free kick walls, different size & weight balls.
Access to indoor training space throughout winter months.
Soccer tennis and soccer volleyball playing areas
Scaffolding and video equipment
4. Quality players to compete and train with, against
Highest possible league play (ENYYSA Premier, NERP, Region 1)
Highly committed teammates (attendance at practice, personal ball work)
Number in squad with external recognition (ENYYSAODP, Regional Team, National Team)
Players with long term desire to achieve and loyalty to team who are soccer fans (watch)
Notable quotes on player development
Coaching development is a life-long process that is fundamentally tied to player development. Simply, the better the coaching, the faster players will improve. To become a good coach requires study. Coaches must understand players, teaching methods, learning styles, psychology and even parental involvement in youth sport. Ultimately, each coach is responsible for their own skills and insights and for the environment created.
"The coach is on the front line of development in a youth player’s career, and the coach’s continuing education is vitally important to that development."
"There is no magic formula or short cut to successful development. Coaching at youth levels is all about working with players to improve performance, not about recruiting players to build teams to win championships. Soccer is a player’s game and players should be considered first when political, administrative and coaching decisions are made."
–– Bobby Howe, U.S. Soccer, former director of coaching, professional and National Team
"We need our younger players to be comfortable with the ball. We need our older players to be able to do it in a phone booth, with two or three defenders around them. They should be able to receive that ball and put it anywhere they want."
–– John Hackworth, U.S. Men’s National Team, assistant coach
"Soccer is an art not a science and the game should be played attractively as well as effectively. Soccer is a game of skill, imagination, creativity and decision-making. Coaching should not stifle, but enhance those elements."
–– Bobby Howe, U.S. Soccer, former director of coaching, professional and National Team coach
"…we must develop a culture and a way of thinking whereby highly skilled and qualified coaches are assigned to coach the younger players."
–– Jeff Tipping, former NSCAA, director of coaching
"The drive, the hunger, the passion must be inside you, because players need to recognize that you care."
–– Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United Football Club, manager