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Optimal Youth Soccer Development Model

The game of soccer is one of the greatest gifts to humankind and is played by millions all over the world. Soccer in it’s current form has been with us for around 150 years now, but the evolution of player development, in most countries, has not kept pace with, the game itself, or many other aspects of life. A new player-centered model for development is necessary to achieve optimal results for all young children who play the game – that will enable them to reach their full potential. 

Soccer is a late specialization sport meaning that players cannot be just manufactured or cloned from the very first day. Firstly, they must be allowed time to develop the fundamental ABCs of agility, balance and coordination, then be exposed to a progressive program of age-appropriate learning and then in their mid-teens be prepared for competition. A good model respects the natural order of childhood development, taking the time to help them reach their full potential and to complete each logical stage of development in turn. 

The game of soccer, especially when played constructively is a very complex game for both the coach and the players. There are many decisions to be made, and many complex actions to be performed. The 11-a-side game that adults play is far too complex and difficult for young players, physically, mentally, technically, tactically and psychologically. 

While soccer coaching has gone through many fashions especially the physical and technical emphases, today, game intelligence -  a proper understanding of the workings of the game, where players use perception, understanding and decision-making before finally executing the chosen action – is the key factor in both player performance and team efficiency, i.e. Success! 

The 10,000 hour rule – the time required for a talent to be fully developed – but just as important, if not more so, is the quality of the content, or curriculum in any such development program, and critically, that the young talent remains motivated to complete such an epic task.



 It's an age-appropriate, program for training  young soccer players.
Goals of the model:

In order to put any plan into place it is important to determine where you want to go. The Victory Development Model is designed to achieve the following long-term goals:

To develop each boy or girl to their full potential.
To develop complete, all-round soccer players.
To develop players who can play soccer with their head as well as their feet.
To develop better human beings.
To give the kids a game for life
To further the cause of The Beautiful Game – constructive, creative, exciting soccer

This model is also based on the precept that good soccer starts in head before finishing with the feet.

A blueprint for success

In order to reach these goals, a map, or blueprint is provided: 

a)      Style

The style of the coaching in the model is player-centered and includes a guided discovery teaching method versus the old traditional style of “yell and tell.” Players are included in the learning process and are helped to think for themselves. 

b)      Substance

The Victory Soccer Development Model is based around a progressive curriculum of simplified small-sided games mixed with skill drills. A holistic game-centered approach ensures the integration of technical, physical and tactical elements that is proven to be much more effective than the old analytical method.

The Game is the Teacher! 

c)       Structure

The model recommends age-appropriate game formats for competitions: 

8v8 9-12 years

11-a-side for 13+ years

 Advantages of the Victory Youth Soccer Development Model
Age-appropriate games and training are matched to the children’s needs 

Firstly, we must recognize that children are not adults and that the 11-a-side game is a complex, adult-oriented game for grown men and women, who have reached physical, mental and emotional maturity. On top of that children grow through different phases of development, physically, mentally and emotionally. 

A comprehensive curriculum leaves nothing to chance

The model provides all the elements for the development of players, much like a school curriculum which becomes progressively more complex and intense. Neither does the model place excessive demands on young players, but provides them with all the tools necessary to advance in the game.

A step by step process guarantees competence and success

The game is a complex game and it is vital that the foundational building blocks are in place and that progression is made in a logical, step-by-step manner. This helps the coaches to grow progressively in their competence, just as the players do.

Player’s need to feel competent to retain their interest in anything and especially so in sport, which is  optional for many of them. A model which proceeds in a step-by-step manner allows the children the time to achieve a good level of competence in their technique and tactical awareness for their particular age-group and the coach will only move them on when they are ready to be challenged further, without being over stretched.

A holistic approach develops the whole player 

The Victory model includes the technical, tactical, physical and psychological/emotional elements of player development in an integrated manner so that skills are acquired in the context of the game, and the game itself is played in the context of a fully-rounded life.

Fun and enjoyment guarantee involvement and retention 

Any model which ignores the inherent enjoyment of playing games over the felt requirement to perfect technique and physical conditioning will be counterproductive. Children must firstly, fall in love with the game in the Fundamental stage, but even in professional football, players need to be enjoying the game to sustain consistent performance. All over the world young people in their millions are been lost to sport in their early teens due to the pressures imposed on them by adults, rather than enjoying sport for itself.

Time allowed for natural development helps them reach their full potential

Most kids these days, even as young as 7 years of age are forced into “performing” each weekend as if it were the Champions League Final. For some reason adults have seen fit to force young players into game formats that they are not ready for. 

The Victory Soccer Development Model recognizes the time that nature decrees for the development of these young soccer players.