CJFC is a competitive youth soccer club committed to offering central New Jersey players an organized and professional association that encourages player and character development, teamwork, sportsmanship, social responsibility and a love and appreciation
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Soccer Development Strategies

Necessities for Being “in it” For the Long Term;

Dave Simeone

Soccer Development Strategies

National Staff Instructor – U.S. Soccer


The development of soccer talent is an on going process; it truly is

longitudinal. It is a process in which individuals’ progress gradually

from simple to the more complex experiences that the game provides.

The process of player development requires planning that has clarity

and based upon a modern technical development ideas. This plan and

direction needs to come from the technical people; coaches who are

educated, experienced and knowledgeable. Anything less than a

comprehensive and coordinated effort only means that player development

is left to chance rather than being maximized as a result of coaching,

programming, competition and well thought out planning.

This process can not be rushed. It is not positively affected by “if

this much is good then more must be better.” The process of player

development can be influenced by elements that are essential for

effective player development.

The Necessities

Training: The development of HABITS and a TRAINING MENTALITY.

To stimulate players to raise the level of response training needs to

balance demanding and challenging with motivating and interesting. Much

of a training mentality has to do with the development of concentration

and the responsibility within the players to coach themselves. While we

often hit the peak we’d like to in training --- the attitude and

intensity, we lack the ability to pick up in the next session where we

left off in the previous one. Transferring what’s been retained from

one session to the next is one indicator of learning. Even the simplest

aspects that are associated with mentality – punctuality, correct

equipment and attentiveness are huge in the whole process.

The additional aspect of training is to balance it with games. The

accepted ratio at U12 and older between competitive games and training

is 2:1 training to games. At U16 the ideal ratio is 3:1 training to

games. Too many games results in a poor mentality and attitude; “it’s

just another game”. The lack of training also creates the added

difficulty of fixing problems from competitive games. It is the basic

issue of QUALITY versus QUANTITY. There needs to be balance!

- Competitive Matches: Games of varying difficulty. Games that suffice

for different priorities or purpose; Games that are player development

opportunities (PDO) versus games that are result driven. Competition is

important but games differ in importance of achieving a result versus

player and team development. Ultimately competitive players must earn

playing time in result oriented games. There’s also a necessary element

of “fear free” playing time in games that are oriented towards player

development versus a result. While the result is not the be all, end

all, it allows for the necessary experience of “winning” or “losing” in

games other those that are the most coveted to win in order to be

successful in. There are those coaches who also believe that losing a

“big game” while disappointing in the short run is beneficial in the

long term of winning more important matches in the future.

- The “Political Pipeline” of administrators, politicians, coaches,

referees and parents.

Parents are tremendous assets and necessary pieces of the youth sport

mosaic here in the United States. Parents can be tremendous during the

entire player development process or detractors. Parents can, and do

have, operated in what they believe to be the “best interests” of their

children. While parents can lend all the necessary financial support

and assistance they can’t do it for their youngsters. They can only

assume an ancillary role which is best described as supportive.

Sometimes the best and most realistic thing parents can allow

youngsters and teenagers to do is to learn to fail in order to decide

how important soccer, and learning to be an accomplished player is to

them. In the case of board members (club, league, state) they must

operate with the technical professionals in the mutual interest of the

players and the game. They must avoid being inclined to carry out the

aims of their own “technical plan” based on their presumptions and not

expertise. The coaches owe those in the positions of being “trustees”

explanations and the rationale for planning out technical and

competitive issues. The organization of recreational and competitive

playing environments need to come in line with the mainstream and

accepted rationale based upon what is tested , tried and definitely in

the best interest of players.

- Coaching: it is the one thing that interfaces MOST with the one

product in the game; the players. Coaching is responsible for more than

90 minutes of training or 90 minutes of game management. In the youth

game coaches are instrumental in communicating with parents;

articulating information in order to educate them. The club in concert

with the coaches is collectively responsible for the long term of

preparing players for collegiate opportunities. This includes working

towards academic requirements, matching players with institutions,

ensuring that players are working with guidance counselors at school

and networking with college coaches. In coaching older teams and

players this is an absolute necessity in the United States. There are

some older boys who are now by-passing college and transferring

directly into MLS. Dealing with this is also an important facet for the

coach and the club.

Coaching younger players under 12 years of age has become its own art

and science. Coaching these players involves putting experiences into

them that contribute to their development while investing in them for

the future.

There is no guarantee that every player will reach his or her

potential. Much happens outside of training and the club to distract

and deter individual players and their progress. But at least we must

give all of them the opportunity to “Become The Best They Can Be”.

Bobby Howe, former U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching remarked “Soccer is

as much art as science. 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. Neither should politics or alternative interests.”

“There is no magic formula or short cut to successful player

development,” added Howe. “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 being made”.

Good principles of business or enterprise are mainstays no matter what

continent or country. Good principles of player development are no

different. It’s a long term proposition in either case. Business and

enterprise is not a seasonal activity neither is soccer and player

development. It’s not a matter of convenience or chance in terms of

doing what will be best for achieving goals in the long term. It is a

matter of priorities, planning and design.