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Recreational Soccer - Player Development Guidelines

SASC follows the US Soccer Guidelines regarding player development.
The following is an extract from "Age Group Organization", produced by US Soccer.
For further information, refer to their website.

Organization of Player Development by Age and Stage

Children do not learn in the same way as adults, especially when the learning process involves both intellectual and physical activity. Age conditions the way a person perceives and interacts with the world and with others.
In any learning process, age is the key component in selecting appropriate content and methodology. Soccer is no different. For this reason we must not train 6 year old players the same way as 13 years old players. Training sessions must be adapted to the age of the players. Taking into consideration the characteristics of human and player development, we have structured the curriculum into four age groups:


At this age children do not have the same capacity as adults to analyze the environment. They explore and have an egocentric conception of the world. Children are still gathering the experience necessary to interact with their surroundings and with others. Also, empathy and the capacity to consider the thoughts and feelings of others is very low. In order to help children build their own experience, many exercises will be individual (e.g. each player will have a ball). The tactical component of the game will be reduced to small-sided games with basic explanations about space distribution. Training sessions will be treated more as physical education than specifically as soccer training.


At this stage, the structure (but not the content) of the training sessions will be similar to that of older players. The main component of the training session will be technical. It is sensible at this age to develop technique and basic tactical understanding. Children's capacity to solve problems increases significantly. Therefore players will begin working on basic and dynamic tactical scenarios. At this stage, players are pre-pubescent and have important physical limitations in terms of strength and endurance.


Players at this age develop a good understanding of the game. However, these players are limited by their physical size and the significant changes, which arise with puberty. Safety should be the number one priority for the coach. The coach must be cautious to avoid overtraining should focus more on tactical and technical elements of the game and less on the physical aspects. Tactical training plays an important role at this age.


Players at this age have completed most of their physical and mental development. All components of training can be combined and organized with the purpose of developing the highest potential of the player. The strength of the muscles helps to develop technique at high speed and this speed helps the player to react faster to tactical situations. This stage is crucial for combining all the components of soccer in order to increase the players' soccer knowledge.

These are some of the facts in terms of human development adapted to soccer.

Stage Age Groups Characteristics
Initial 6U


Very young players from 5 to 8 years of age love to play. Therefore, all practices should be based on fun games.

Players must spend the maximum time possible in contact with the ball and experiment by themselves.

For the first time the player has to build a relationship with other players. Give different responsibilities to the players in order to develop a sense of team.

Basic motor skills like walking, running or jumping have to be combined with ball handling and ball control.
Basic 9U



Pre-pubescent players from age 9 to 12 years have a special ability to learn. Therefore, this is the right age to work on specific soccer techniques and skills. Developing good technique is essential at this age.

1v1 and 2v1 attacking and defending situations are important to develop individual skills as well as the passing techniques to develop the necessary team game.

Use small-sided games to develop basic attacking and defensive principles. Other important aspects of tactical training are possession, combination play, transition and finishing in the final third, as well as zonal defending. Players will rotate in two or three different positions to avoid early specialization.

Speed, coordination, balance and agility are the main physical aspects to improve at this stage.
Intermediate 13U

At this stage, training sessions are orientated more toward tactics and the player will practice in bigger spaces. Players must practice all different types of techniques at this stage.

Strength and endurance should be part of the fitness training. Coaching methods have to consider and preserve players’ health since they will be experiencing many changes due to puberty at this stage. Warm-ups and cool downs are essential as is dynamic flexibility.

Players must develop discipline at this stage by following the instructions of the coach both during and outside training sessions.
Advanced 15U



Tactical training and small-sided games are an essential part of the training at this stage. Attacking and defending principles must be part of all games. Important aspects of the tactical training are speed of play, quick transition, counter attacking and finishing in the final third, as well as pressing.

Technique will focus on speed and accuracy. Passing and finishing are two of the main techniques emphasized at this stage. Part of the technical training will be position-specific (e.g. defender: passing, center midfield players: receiving to turn and strikers: finishing).

The physical aspect of the game is key at this stage: endurance, strength and speed will be part of the weekly training routine.

Players should be expected to show commitment to the team, concentration in training sessions and competitiveness during the game.

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