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Children in the 1st stage of soccer development
Children in the 1st stage of soccer development

The 4 Phases of Player Development

The articles in the Phases of Player Development series are from a report by the staff of the U.S.Women’s National Team. Please keep in mind that this piece pre-dates the more recently established National Curriculum. There is, however, still useful and important information to be gained from this piece.

The success of the U.S. Women’s National Team program is largely dependent on the quality of the programs that feed into it. True player development occurs when each player’s daily training and playing environment is of the highest quality. If this environment is consistent, with a clear vision of what lies ahead for each player, development is then maximized.

Toward that end, the National Team staff has put together a list of curriculum guidelines for the U-12 through U-19 age groups at the club, state and regional team levels. The purpose is to:

  • Educate coaches as to the standard of play and expectations for each age.
  • Provide coaches with a framework with which to organize curriculum decisions.
  • Provide for consistency, with guidance through all levels of play.
  • Improve “vertical integration” for player development.
  • Improve the quality of play on a national basis.
It is important to note that each player and each team is different. This serves as a guideline or standard by which players and coaches can plan development. Individual and team needs can therefore be identified and addressed. Individual strengths can be stabilized while deficiencies can be improved. Of course, an accurate assessment of each player’s and team’s needs are essential.

It is imperative that each coach take the time to observe and study the level for which the team is preparing to compete. For example, each club coach should be attuned to the state level, state coaches should make an effort to observe the regional team play. Regional coaches should be familiar with the age-group specific national team level, and every coach should spend time studying the full National Team. In this way, a more accurate assessment of player expectations is possible. The ultimate goal of each coach should be to prepare the players to compete at the next level. This document can help coaches towards their goals of developing more sophisticated players and teams.

Click to read Background | Phase 1 | Phase 2 | Phase 3 | Phase 4

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