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Player Development Philosophy

Player Development

San Juan Soccer Club’s training goal is to develop our players over a 8-9 year time frame.  In the background of all our training is instilling that true love of soccer. 

The U8 Academy is for our youngest players.  Everyone who wishes to participate will be accepted into the academy.  The atmosphere is one of fun and building confidence and self assurance on the playing field. Encouragement and a positive field experience is what our youngest players enjoy.  Training practices take place a maximum of two times per week .

The U10-U12 age groups are classified within our training program as the Technical Training group.  Our coaches focus on teaching the proper techniques in the fundamental skills of trapping, passing, movement off the ball, and defending.  In addition, coaches touch on developing an awareness of space and the overall shape of  the team on the field as a whole.  Learning these fundamentals the right way early, creates a stronger player in the older age groups.  Training practices in these age groups are 2-3 times per week.

The U13-U15 age groups are classified within our training program as the Tactical Training group.  Building on and continuing the player’s technical development from the younger age groups, coaches for these age groups also teach broader game strategies and execution.  Individual player development as well as team development are the building blocks to championship teams.  Training practices in these age groups are 2-3 times per week.

The U16-U18 age groups are classified within our training program as the Advanced Training group.  As the children reach these ages, their game must reach the next level of play to reach the higher level  soccer platforms in the US.  The coaches focus primarily on the player’s development and understanding of “systems of play”.  As our player’s move on to greater ventures in soccer, it is imperative to equip them with the tools they need to succeed in the game and in life.

In the end, as the children grow older and face the real world, translating lessons learned on the field into useful life experience for handling both life’s successes and failures is the most valuable training of all.

Technical Ability

Ball Control:
Players must be able to bring a ball played under control instantly and smoothly.  This is the ability to collect and move in a different direction without stopping the ball completely, yet still maintain it securely.   Players must develop the technique to receive a pass at top speed.  This means not slowing down to collect a ball coming on the ground, bouncing, or in the air.  Players must be able to protect the ball by shielding it and developing deception in order to get rid of your opponent.

Players must be able to successfully complete short and long range passes.  This incorporates all of your ball skills, including heading, bending, chipping, and the ability to drive the ball to a partner.  Players will find that at a high leve, it is easier to control and make quick decisions with a ball that is driven, rather than weakly played.  Develop the skill of one-touch passing.

This is the ability to feint, burst past opponents, change directions and speed at will, and break through packed defensive lines.  Players must exhibit quick feet, acombined with a sense of comfort under pressure, to penetrate into space to open opportunities for themselves or for a partner?

The ability to head at goal after crosses, heading high, wide, and deep for defensive clearances, heading balls as a one-touch pass (both into space or to a partner’s feet) in order to create shooting chances.  Can a player effectively demonstrate the ability to do this under the duress of the game?

Nothing makes more of an impression on people than the skill of goal scoring.  This aspect takes in the correct technique of striking the ball in various ways; driving low balls, hitting volleys, half-volleys, half-chances, chipping, bending, heading, etc.  Good goal scorers can also finish with their chest, heel, toe, and thigh.  Coaches are looking for that player who can exhibit composed aggressiveness, swift secure decision making at opportune times.

Tactical Awareness

Tactical insight incorporates the anticipation, reading, and execution, of certain clues that happen during possession and non-possession of the ball.

In Attack:

A.  Player not in possession:
1.  Makes themselves available for the ball, perhaps by a diagonal or a crossover run  
2.  Realizes when it is crucial to offer close support and when to stay away
3.  Recognizes the proper time to execute “take-overs” and “overlaps”

B.  Player in possession:  
1.  Has good peripheral vision, recognizing the correct time to switch the ball to the other side of the field
2.  Has good penetrating vision, allowing them to see and utilize players who are far down the field 
3.  Recognizes the correct time to play directly, and when it is important to hold the ball (shielding or dribbling) or when      to run at top speed past players opening up passing angles for the team
4.  Sees opportunities to play “one-twos”

In Defense:

During the immediate pursuit, with desire to regain possession of the ball, the player should recognize:
1.  When to race forward to intercept the pass
2.  When to mark the opponent tight in order to eliminate a passing opportunity for the opposing team (pressure)
3.  When, where, and how (posture) to tackle
4.  When to jockey the ball carrier and force them away from the goal (patience)
5.  The quickest avenue of attack upon regaining possession of the ball

Physical Aspects

The ability of a player to commit themselves diligently throughout the game in attack and defense with no sign of fatigue or impaired ball control.  The player must constantly be running into open spaces and demanding the ball or pulling and committing opposing players to create openings.  Even though this is also a tactical commitment, it will only be successful if you have the endurance capabilities to run for 60 to 90 minutes.  The coach will be examining players’ physical exertion as they are being exposed to tactical problems which are trying to be solved on the field within the game format.

The ability to accelerate quickly and maintain that acceleration of the various lengths that players’ positions demand.  For example, the forwards need acceleration with changes of speed over three to twenty yards.  Elements include:
1.  Pure straight-ahead running speed
2.  Lateral speed (changing direction)
3.  Change of speed (slow to fast, fast to half speed)
4.  Deceleration (“stopping on a dime”

After the basics are attained, speed must be practiced and fully integrated into ball handling.

The ability to change directions quickly.  Twisting, turning while dribbling, readjusting your body to control an awkwardly bouncing ball, and getting up quickly after a tackle are a few examples.  This area is enhanced by flexibility exercises such as stretching, ball gymnastics, and skill training with the ball.  Conditioning training will be combined with skill and tactical training.

The ability to effectively use your body to win physical confrontations.  Strength is exhibited during tackling (1 vs. 1), winning the aerial duel (heading), and changing directions effectively (explosion).  It is also important to learn how to effectively use that strength to your advantage as is demonstrated in using your arms to hold a player off while running top speed with the ball or in shooting for power.  Most of the strength and power training can be combined with technique training.


Please take a moment to read the following articles, as well as the FIFA Nutritional Guide for soccer players.  It is very important and easy to follow the guidelines, making the players’ development and experiences on the field much more fun, successful, and safe.

Additional information can be found here: Nutrition and Soccer Performance