Creative Player is committed to age-appropriate youth development which takes into consideration the physical, psychological, and social characteristics of children as they progress from early childhood through adoloscence. The result of such considerations is the establishment of training objectives that are suited for each stage of a child's growth and development within the sport of soccer.
The following are the four stages of player development in the Creative Player youth policy:
Time for PLAY ages 5 - 7
Time for TECHNIQUE ages 7 - 12
Time for TACTICS ages 12 - 16
Time for PRODUCTIVITY ages 16 - 18
The following article explains more in detail the four stages of the Creative Player youth policy:
AGE APPROPRIATE COACHING OBJECTIVES FOR YOUTH SOCCER
By John Pietak Creative Player SKILLS Director
When instructing youth soccer players one thing should be agreed upon immediately by coaches and parents—they are not ADULTS! Age-appropriate coaching objectives for youth soccer are necessary in order to meet the unique developmental characteristics that exist for each age group. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time coaching 5 to 7 year olds will recognize immediately that this is a “Time for Play”. Little ones love to run, jump, kick and have fun! They have short attention spans and are constantly in motion. Long lines and long explanations are to be avoided. Instead, these children learn best by doing. Skill oriented games and basic games should be emphasized where lots of touches on the ball and opportunities to exercise large muscle groups take place.
As children grow and enter the 7 to 12 year old age group they posses an increased attention span and improved motor skills. These young players are open to learning and perfecting skills. This is a “Time for Technique”. I am continually amazed how quickly children within this age group can achieve a level of basic proficiency in all technical areas. The role of the coach in providing the right example takes on greater importance. Children within this age group learn best by imitating and emulating the actions of the coach. Repetition is key to learning as children develop and perfect their growing technical base within the context of small sided games.
The ability to cooperate with teammates and solve soccer problems describes the next age group of 12 to 16 year olds. This is a “Time for Tactics”. Acquisition of game insight within the context of 11 versus 11 is emphasized. All aspects of tactics are stressed: how to build up; how to attack; and how to defend become a matter of routine. Players are more capable of learning their roles and responsibilities within the team.
The last stage on road to the “adult game” is the 16 to 18 year old age group. This is a “Time for Productivity”. Winning now takes on greater significance. Players within this age group are able to reason through complex situations and solve soccer problems. They are expected to work hard to achieve a result. Mental and physical aspects play a greater role. Real matches provide the basis for analysis and improved performance.
By understanding age-appropriate coaching objectives for youth soccer coaches and parents can better provide meaningful instruction that is specific to the needs of their players. This of course leads to better soccer education and increased enjoyment for the game. To ignore these specific objectives is to impose unrealistic expectations on youth players that can easily hinder their development and enjoyment for soccer. It is my hope that every coach and parent will become more fully acquainted with age- appropriate coaching objectives in order to better understand and influence the young players that are under their immediate care