"For the U-6 to U-10 player environment, many clubs and some State Associations have replaced the outcome-based approach with a process-based approach via an academy-based setup. The academy approach is the same as saying scrambled. This is the terminology sometimes used in the national coaching schools. The main idea is no organized league play. Players are not assigned to a specific team, but are scrambled on each game day, allowing them to play with and against different players, using a non-results oriented philosophy. This best practice is prefaced with research from sports and child psychologists and pediatricians. They assert that sport should be organized, if it is to be organized at all for children under the age of 10, to allow the children to play because they love to win, not have to win. The goal is to compete to do their best rather than compete to be the best.
The academy format, or pool play, is recommended with multiple game options, movement within a group of players and all players having an equal opportunity to play. An academy is a part of a progressive club curriculum. The focus of soccer programs at a young age should be on unhurried and diverse play in an environment that promotes positive developmental settings."
8U TDP Phases
1. 10 Week Training Curriculum
The training curriculum covers all aspects of fundamental technical components, delivered in a way that progressively challenges the players through added pressure situations. The use of game-like conditions turns the technique into a skill that can be reproduced in different situations. All curriculum activities allow for differentiation in order to make them more or less challenging, depending on the ability level of the player.
2. End of Season Technical Challenges
At the end of the season, each player “competes” in a series of fun, technical skill challenges designed to test their technique in various aspects in which they have received training during the season.
3. End of Season Evaluation & Feedback
Each player receives a detailed written evaluation that contains both qualitative and quantitative performance feedback. The “report card” will highlight strength areas and areas for improvement, grade the players on a meaningful achievement scale and will also give some level of statistical feedback following the completion of Technical Challenges in week 10 of the training curriculum.
U8 TDP Curriculum
Week 1: Dribbling; Changing Direction & Speed
Dribbling with close control in straight lines and multi direction using both feet, Introduction to ’cutting’ the ball, inside hook and outside hook turns.
Week 2: Dribbling; Moves to beat a Defender
Progression of cutting the ball. Development of Fake / Dummy, Scissors, and Squeezy Push moves to beat a defender.
Week 3: Dribbling; Keeping Possession
Recap of Cutting, Moves to beat a defender at game speed Introduction and development of turning with the ball, specific turns are Drag Back, Step Over and Cruyff. Use of body to Shield the ball.
Week 4: Dribbling; 1v1 Situations
Players cover all of the turns and moves covered in the previous 3 weeks all at game speed. Players learn specifically when and where to use the skills.
Week 5: Passing; Sharing the Ball
Passing using the inside of both feet and to both static and moving targets.
Week 6: Passing for Possession
Development of passing in order for the team to keep the ball. Players will develop the skill of passing against live defenders. Helps develop players’ spatial awareness of when to pass and when to dribble.
Week 7: Passing – First Touch to Maintain Possession
Use of inside and outside of the foot to get a quality of first touch in an intended direction.
Week 8: Control – Use of Wedge and Cushion Control using the foot only
Players use 4 of the 6 surfaces (inside/outside/sole and laces) of the foot to both wedge and cushion the ball both on the ground and out of the air.
Week 9: Attacking Play; Striking and Finishing
Use of laces to drive the ball. Development of 4 A’s of shooting (Accuracy, Awareness, Attitude, and Aggression).
Week 10: Attacking Play; Attacking Situations
Players using the technical skills of passing, shooting and dribbling in and around the goal area. Development of decision making at the variety of angles around the goal. Technical Challenges.