There are lots of great academies for your young son or daughter to acquire and develop skills in soccer. The premise of an academy is normally for development purposes. Soccer at a higher level is biomechanically very complex and requires constant practice to get right. From an observer point of view the professionals make it look ‘easy’ but in the background, it takes hours of practice to get right.
For example receiving a ball whilst running, looks easy but if we break it down – the player may need to receive the his/her weaker foot, predict the speed, observe the opposition, observe his teammates position and his execute his/he first touch to give options such as on pass the ball to his teammates or feint the ball to get past the opposition or pass behind him. He also needs to make sure is posture is “open” to strike, defend, move either left or right. As you can see such as simple playing component can be quite complex when broken down; lots of little tweaks are needed.
This is what a higher level soccer academy is designed for, to develop the players skills and skills acquisition.
Football Federation Australian (FFA) has broken down certain age group to represent certain phases in a young footballers life
U5-U8 is the Discovery Phase
U9-U12 is the Skill Acquisition Phase
U13-U16 is the Game Training Phase
U17 and above is the performance Phase
The Golden Years is the SAP (Skills Aquisition Phase) it is this phases that the player needs to concentrate on skills. “Playing to win” will often compromise acquiring skills which I will explain in later articles. The emphasis on developing the player skills is a curriculum tried out by many soccer nations around the world for many years (10-15 years). I remember watching an interview of a French national player describing his youth football – he said that he was not allowed to play any competitive football until he has 16, everyday was skills based training nothing else.
As a soccer dad this is the hardest concept to get your head around – emphasis on player development – skills acquisition, it takes patience. Your role is primarily support and observation. Is my son/daughter getting the right training? what can she/he improve on? first touch? running the ball? etc. In fact in the SAP curriculum there is no ladder, no semi-finals or titles to win. The emphasis is how did the kids play – game by game. So if you are looking for your kid to win tournaments, then SAP is not the right program. If you are looking for your kid to be the most skilled soccer he/she can be then the SAP journey awaits. So this delayed gratification can be hard. As a soccer player in this program do not expect a trophy or ribbon, unlike little Athletics or other football codes, to be placed on the mantlepiece this will have to come later.