At this introductory level, the object is to get children moving and to keep them active. No competitive games should be played – the object is for adults and children to play together informally. The physical curriculum provides for learning basic fundamental movement skills such as running, jumping, twisting, kicking, throwing, and catching. The technical requirements are nothing more than encouraging children to enjoy playing with the ball one-on-one with an adult, practicing dribbling, kicking, and shooting. Player success is encouraged. While the adult should challenge the child player, they should allow the child to “score” goals and “beat” the adult opponent. Adults are advised to discontinue play when the child has lost interest. At this stage, players should participate in a variety of additional activities. Swimming and well-structured gymnastics programs are recommended to enhance the full range of basic movement skills and physical literacy.
At this stage, coaches and teachers should create a stimulating learning environment where the atmosphere is “Freedom and Fun.” The physical curriculum emphasizes the ABC’s of movement: Agility, Balance, Co-ordination, and Speed as well as running, jumping, twisting, kicking, throwing, and catching. Technical instruction is introduced through movement exercises and games that promote a feel for the ball. This includes gaining ball control in receiving passes, dribbling, passing less than 25m, kicking the ball forward, and shooting on goal. Keeping in mind that small children are naturally egocentric, basic tactical concepts involving basic cooperation between player can be introduced. Playing situation work best for teaching understanding of the game and building basic game intelligence and decision making. Game formats should progress from 3v3 to 5v5 as the children grow through this stage. In order to help de-emphasize competitiveness between coaches and parents, no league standing should be kept. A basic league fixture schedule can be created, but it is basically and extended jamboree format, and the emphasis is clearly on FUN. All players should play equal. All players should play equal time and try all team positions, including goalkeeping, and equal time should be allotted to both practices and games. Children should continue to participate in a variety of additional activities. Swimming and well-structured gymnastics programs are recommended, along with ball sports.
The effect of the role-model is very important at this stage. Children begin to identify with famous players and successful teams, and they want to learn imaginative skills. Skill demonstration is very important, and the players learn best by “doing.” Players move from being self-centered to self-critical, and they have a high arousal level during basic skills training. This is also an important time to teach basic principles of play and to establish a training ethic and discipline. Repetitions are important to develop technical excellence, but creating a fun and challenging environment is still essential for stimulating learning. This stage is an optimal window for trainability of speed, flexibility and skills, and physical training should focus on developing these qualities. Technical training focuses on building a greater repertoire of soccer related movements within the context of basic soccer games. Tactical training is designed to develop field awareness and encourage decision making. Players should be taught simple combinations, marking, and running into space. Mental aspects of training are intended to develop each player’s intrinsic motivation through fun and enjoyment that foster a desire to play. Game formats should progress from 6v6 to 8v8 as children grow through this stage. League standings are still not necessary. A simple league fixture schedule can be created, but it is basically an extended jamboree format, as the emphasis is still clearly on FUN. There are no off sides in this stage. All players play equal time and try all team positions, including goalkeeping, and the training to competition ratio should be 2 to 3 training session for every game. Other sports continue to play a role both for variety and cross-training, but the balance now begins to shift firmly in favour of soccer.
At this stage, elite soccer groups may express interest in recruiting talented youth players. Care must be taken to recognize and protect the long-term interests of each player. Risks and issues can be avoided by ensuring that the development model remains “player centered.” The optimal window of trainability for stamina begins with the onset of Peak Height Velocity(PHV), more commonly known as the adolescent growth spurt. The demands of skill training as well as training loads should increase, thus provoking improvement in mental toughness, concentration and diligence. Awareness of tactics within the game becomes an important facet of the learning process. Players tend to be self-critical and rebellious, but they have a strong commitment to the team. Physical training emphasizes Flexibility, Discipline Warm-up and Cooldown, Agility, Aerobic and Anaerobic Endurance, Strength, Balance, and Core Strength and Stability. Players are also introduced to nutrition and proper diet (pre-game, post-game, tournaments), prevention and care of injuries, and the importance of rest and recovery. Coaches may be required to design personalized training programs in order to respect the growth spurt. Technical instruction introduces advanced techniques to those players who are capable, and the skills are presented within a more complex environment with position-specific emphasis. Tactical training emphasizes team work, including developing tasks per unit (defense, midfield, and forward units) and positional awareness through small-sided games and large-sided competitive matches. Mental training introduces a pre-competition routine, mental preparation, goal setting, and coping with winning and losing. Game formats should progress from 8v8 to 11v11 as players grow through this stage (game transitions to 11v11 at U13 age), and the season moves toward year-round play that includes appropriate rest and recovery periods. Offsides are introduced at the beginning of this stage. There must be an appropriate ratio of training, competition, and rest throughout the year. Periodized planning is critical to ensuring players ratio should be between 5 to 10 for every game. National competitions held for regional all-star teams at U14 and U16. Soccer is now the player’s primary sport, but complimentary sports are encouraged which support movement and athleticism suitable to soccer (EX: basketball, track & field).
Athletics who are now proficient at performing basic and soccer-specific skills are working to gain more game maturity as they learn to perform these skills under a variety of competitive conditions. Fulfillment of each player’s potential depends on their own efforts, the support of teammates, and the unselfish guidance of the coach. They must be exposed to quality playing and training environments which extend their mental, physical, tactical and technical capabilities to their limit. Players must have a sound understanding of soccer principles and concepts, and they should show emotional stability when confronted with pressure situations. Physical training further develops Flexibility, Correct Warm-up, and Cool-down, Agility, Aerobic and Anaerobic Endurance, Strength, Balance, and Core Strength and Stability. Players continue to learn about nutrition and proper diet (pre-game, post-game, tournaments), prevention and care of injuries, and the importance of rest and recovery. Technical training emphasizes the refinement of core skills and position specific-skills, and advanced techniques and skills are introduced as appropriate. Tactical instruction teaches decision-making, productivity, and competitive proficiency. Mental training works to increase player Concentration, Responsibility, Discipline, Accountability, Goal Setting, Self-confidence, Self-motivation, Will to win, Mental toughness, and a Competitive Mentality in practice and games. Players are taught the importance of being educated in the game, and they are encouraged to watch games on TV and National team games. The game format is according to strict FIFS rules for 11-aside soccer, and the season is built on year-round play that includes appropriate rest and recovery periods. There must be an appropriate ratio of training, competition, and rest throughout the year. Periodized planning is critical to ensuring players are healthly and performing to their potential. The training to competition ratio should be between 5 to 12 for every game, and players should play regularly in highly competitive professional and international matches. Soccer is the player’s primary sport.
The majority, if not all, of the player’s physical, technical, tactical, and psychological qualities are now fully established, and the focus of training has shifted to optimization of performance. They may still require additional tactical experience in high-pressure games to develop consistency. The focus is on the maximization of all capacities. Physical training emphasizes an additional fitness program for maintenance and improvement. However, work and recovery must be well monitored; periodized planning is critical to ensuring players are healthy and performing to their potential. Technical training looks at further development of advanced techniques and skills and individual positional skills, and game-related technical repetition under pressure. Tactical training is designed to stimulate a high degree of decision making, leadership, and game analysis skills. Players must be able to adjust game plans and adapt playing strategies to suit changing demands on the field. Mental training aims to increase concentration, leadership, discipline, accountability, goal setting, responsibility, self-confidence, self-motivation, will to win, mental toughness, and a competitive mentality. Players develop an established pre-practice and pre-game routine. The game format is according to strict FIFA rules for 11-aside soccer, and the season is built on year-round play that includes appropriate rest and recovery periods. There must be an appropriate ratio of training, competition, and rest throughout the year. The training to competition ratio should be between 5 to 12 for every game, and players should play regularly in high competitive professional and international matches. Soccer is the player’s primary sport.
At any stage in the LTPD Model, players may choose to play soccer as a purely recreational activity regardless of their level of ability or disability, and soccer can certainly be enjoyed as part of a lifelong wellness plan. Players of all ages and abilities sometimes stop playing due to other interests, lack of success, shortage of playing opportunities, poor leadership, or other reasons. The LTPD Model promotes personal success to ensure they remain enthusiastic and choose to stay involved in soccer and sport in general. LTPD also addresses the needs of latecomers to the game, as soccer attracts new players at all ages. Some start playing past the age of critical development because their son or daughter is involved in soccer, while others simply want to try a new sport. LTPD encourages these latecomers to learn new skills in a fun and safe environment where they can remain healthy and have fun. Apart from the benefits of lifelong wellness through soccer, adult recreational players can also become active in the coaching and administration of the sport. LTPD encourages the recruitment and retention of players coaches, referees, and administrators as a means of supporting the ongoing development of both grassroots and elite soccer in Canada. Elite soccer players are a special target recruitment in this regard. After they retire from elite competition, elite players should receive support to pursue soccer careers as coaches, sport science specialists, mentors, referees, or administrators. Soccer and its governing bodies will benefit if suitable elite players are formally identified and retained within the fabric of the game. Physical training in the Active for Life stage follows appropriate guidelines in the areas of endurance, strength, and flexibility training to promote continued activity among participants. Technical training may present new skills, or it may simply focus on maintaining skills already acquired. Basic tactics are sufficient to enjoy the game, and the mental focus is on having fun, stress release, and maintaining a fitness discipline. The game format can be adapted to suit the level of play, number of players, and available space. The playing season may continue year-round with appropriate rest and recovery periods. There should be access for players of all ages, genders, and abilities, and costs to players should be minimized to ensure maximum participation.