About the Program
Created in 2007, the development academy was established to primarily focus on youth player development in the United States. The league consisted of 64 elite youth soccer clubs from around the country in its inaugural season. Each team is comprised by geographic proximity, with two age groups (U-15/16 & U-17/18). These 64 teams were divided into eight conferences with each team playing approximately 30 home and away matches during an eight-month season.
Currently in its fifth season, the program has expanded to 78 clubs competing in ten geographically-based divisions. Although some attributes have changed during the past four seasons, the basic mission and principles remain intact: increased focus on training, meaningful competition and a providing a direct connection to U.S. National Team programming.
Developing the Next Generation
U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy program is driven by the game and its players, coaches and referees. This game-centric approach allows for long-term development to occur through a deep understanding of what makes players successful around the world.
As the sport of soccer grows in the United States, young players in our country need the proper environment to compete against the world’s elite. The U.S. Soccer Development Academy program provides the optimum developmental environment for the nation’s top youth soccer players, coaches and referees by emphasizing development through quality training and limited, meaningful competition.
Academy teams spend a greater amount of time focused on training to improve as individuals and as a team. The teams and players receive direct feedback and evaluations from National Team Staff in both training and game environments. In 2012, Academy teams will be exposed to mental testing using the EXACT Sports MAP system. Using a multitude of feedback systems, each athlete gains a greater understanding of how he compares against his peers and what he needs to do to achieve their optimal performance levels.
The Academy program features teams from the top youth clubs from around the country. Each Academy team plays approximately 30 regular season games to ensure all games are meaningful. Games are also played according to FIFA’s Laws of the Game and officiated by a pool of the nation’s top young referees in order to prepare players for the next level of competition. Members of our Men’s National Team Scouting Network regularly attend Academy games, so players are evaluated over the course of the season and in their natural positions allowing for the best player assessment.
The Surf Boys IDP program
This USSDA supplemental training program is designed to further develop the player’s first touch, promote creativity, and enhance physical performance using long-term player development objectives. Player’s work on speed (with and without the ball), agility, ball mastery, and improving first touch using all parts of the body as well as ball striking.
Emphasis is placed on the club culture and daily training atmosphere. More training sessions take place than games allowing players to learn the details of tactics, team formations and game strategies. The development of soccer players is a continuum that overlaps age groups. The following are some of the objectives in the development of a soccer player:
1) Further develop the player’s appreciation of the game.
2) Everyone wants to win, every time. Winning and losing must be kept in proper perspective.
3) Aware of individual player’s development needs within team framework.
4) Educate the players on the technical, tactical, physical and psychological (four components of soccer) demands of the game for their level of play.
5) Educate players in the roles/responsibilities of all positions.
6) Create a training environment that is disciplined and structured but fun and consistently offer positive feedback.
7) Training conducted in the spirit of enjoyment and learning.
8) Proper ratio of training sessions to games according to the player’s stage of development.
9) Help players reach their full potential and be prepared to move to the next stage of development.