[YOUTH] The U.S. Soccer Federation has unveiled its new coaching curriculum for coaches of players ages 5-12. Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna presented the "age-appropriate roadmap" to player development on Wednesday to youth soccer coaches and directors at the Nike International Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. The curriculum is available for download on ussocccer.com.
Reyna, who captained the USA at two World Cups, said four key points of the curriculum are:
1. Development over winning.
“Our players are naturally competitive,” Reyna said. “We don’t need to ramp that up anymore. The whistle blows, our kids want to win. That’s one of our strengths and we're proud of it. But if we’re manipulating and thinking winning-over-development, we’re making a huge mistake. We’re short-cutting the development of players. ...
“Our aim is to produce skillful, creative, confident players.”
Reyna, who made several references to Barcelona’s famed youth program, quoted star playmaker Xavi: “Some youth academies worry about winning. We worry about education.”
2. Quality Training.
“Make every session a quality session, come prepared, don’t waste time,” Reyna said. “Keep players focused and active. … If you have 12 one-hour sessions in a month, and you waste 10 minutes each session, you can waste two sessions in a month.”
3. Age appropriate.
“Providing players with too much too soon leads to confusion and hurts development,” he said. “We don’t need coaches teaching 8-year-olds zonal defending or an offside trap, just like we don’t teach a second-grader calculus. Kids learn rapidly, but at different stages in their lives.”
4. Have fun and inspire your players.
“If we make it fun, we’re going to inspire them. Soccer is a great, fun game,” said Reyna. “Let’s make sure we create an environment so that our players want to come back to our training sessions and be part of the fun.”
(FURTHER READING: Members of the U.S. Soccer technical staff -- Dave Chesler, Tony Lepore, Jill Ellisand April Heinrichs -- discuss the curriculum HERE.)