How to Create a Soccer Player Development Plan

soccer player development

One of your youth soccer club’s main objectives is likely to develop athletes’ skills. Without a proper plan for improving skills, implementing a player development plan can be a vague and overwhelming objective for organizations.

To make this achievable, create player development plans for your athletes. These will help your club establish a blueprint to help soccer players enhance their skills. It will also create transparency between your club, parents, and players by listing which skills are taught at various age levels. Use these tips to help establish player development plans for your youth soccer club.  

Determine What Skills to Teach

When creating player development plans, one of the first things you will need to determine is what skills you want to teach youth players. These can include on-the-field and off-the-field skills.

As a player

At the heart of your club’s player development plan is the curriculum. This will outline the soccer skills your organization will teach athletes at each age level. 

  • Soccer skills: According to U.S. Youth Soccer, for players under 12 years old, the curriculum should center on technical skills and not the game outcomes. Your curriculum can include focusing on ball skills and learning game concepts. For players between the ages of 14 and 17, the organization recommends focusing on club culture and daily training. To do this, schedule more training sessions and fewer games so players can focus on learning new tactics, team formations, and game strategies. ·            
  • Rules: For players to be successful on-the-field, they must know and understand the rules of the game. In your player development plans, determine how to teach athletes the rules and what points-of-emphasis to focus on at each age level.          
  • Penalties: Make sure players know what results in a penalty and what types of penalties can be assessed.           
  • Team concepts: While learning individual skills is important for athletes, it is also crucial to learn team concepts and strategies. Player development plans should include details on which game concepts and offensive and defensive scenarios are taught at each age level.         
  • Safety: Safety should always be a priority for players of all ages. Ensure your curriculum and player development plans account for athletes knowing how to protect themselves, how to play safely, and how to wear equipment.

As an athlete

Your youth soccer club should teach young players about being good athletes, in addition to good players. Part of your club’s curriculum can include tips for staying fit through off-the-field workouts to increase endurance, strength, and speed. Development plans can also list nutritional information and the importance of following a well-balanced diet. 

As a person

Your club’s curriculum can also educate athletes on showing good sportsmanship and developing life skills they can use off-the-field with their families, friends, and communities. Learning these skills will help set players up for success in their future endeavors.

Set Expectations for How Skills Should Be Performed

Once your club outlines the skills it wants to teach athletes, the next step in creating a player development plan is to determine how athletes should perform these skills at each level. 

  • Set player expectations: Player development plans should include how athletes are expected to perform at practice and in games and how they should demonstrate the skills outlined in the curriculum. Your player development plan can include meeting expectations such as showing good sportsmanship, arriving on time and coming prepared for games and practices. It should also have benchmarks athletes should strive to achieve on the specified skills to ensure they improve as expected. Outlining these will establish transparency, so players know exactly what is expected of them during practices and games at each age level.
  • Explain the significance of player evaluations: Your organization should explain how player evaluations work in conjunction with player development plans. Your plans can address how often coaches will evaluate athletes, how these evaluations are used, and how players can use them to determine if they are meeting expectations on various skills.

Establish Long-Term Goals for Athletes

Each athlete in your club likely has different goals when it comes to his or her soccer career. For some players, their objective could be to have fun and learn new skills. Others might have ambitious goals of playing at the collegiate – or even professional – level. To ensure each player reaches their goals, it is important to create player development plans that allow athletes to grow into the soccer player they want to become. Make sure these plans are designed to enable players to keep developing their soccer skills and enhance their understanding and execution of the game.

About TeamGenius

TeamGenius is a youth soccer player evaluation and development mobile platform built to help youth soccer coaches and staff evaluate players and share critical feedback in a professional manner.

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