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Player Development Philosophy

Player Development Philosophy

A player development philosophy is essential to keep coaches, parents and players focused and on the same page when it comes to the right milestones that will help us all meet our goals.  At Prime Soccer Club, our goal is to improve the quality of play at every level, and develop well-rounded, technically competent players who learn to play and enjoy soccer for life. 

Prime Soccer Club has embraced US Soccer Player development initiatives and relies on the expertise and experience of recognized leaders in the youth soccer community for best practice implementation. The principles of player development help guide us to make sure that the players of Prime Soccer Club become the best players they can be. This means that we should check back and take a look at these principles regularly as these provide the framework for our soccer development program. 

Player development is a phrase that circulates in the youth soccer community, however, it is often misused, it seems that many parents, players and coaches do not understand what player development really means.  

What is player development? 

Development Over Winning 
The first concept is “Development over Winning.” Winning is never the primary focus for clubs with a player development philosophy.  Development oriented youth soccer programs start with the understanding that winning is the end result of good training, teamwork,  and intensity.  All too often, a  misdirected focus on winning results, especially at the younger ages results in really ugly "playing at soccer" – a style of play that exploits the raw physical abilities of early bloomers and leaves weaker, late bloomers behind.  This style of play may result in more wins at younger ages, but at the older ages when late bloomers catch up, the early bloomers of past seasons have never developed the skills necessary to play well at higher levels of competition. A development oriented  coach focuses on the controllables -  training, teamwork, intensity. In the end, you can’t control the outcome of a game. 
“The Monday through Friday is much more important than the Saturday or Sunday.”
Claudio Reyna, former US Soccer Youth Director

For further support of this principle of wisdom,

“We don’t demand that the youth teams win.
“We demand that they play good soccer.
We don’t use the word, ‘winning.”

Jose Ramon Alexanco, Youth Director, FC Barcelona

Player Development over Team Development
Soccer is a team sport, and at the highest levels of the game, team chemistry is a big part of the success of these teams. However, every player at the highest levels of the game got there because they have the requisite technical skills. The drive to win at the younger ages, encourages early specialization, locking players into roles on a team that could delay their development as a complete player. 
By playing on a soccer team, players learn many valuable aspects of teamwork such as cooperation and trust. At the youth level, the needs of the player need to come before the team . At this stage of development, the team and Club exist to serve the needs of the player. Simply put, the developmental needs of the player come first. Asking youth athletes to “sacrifice for the team” is not appropriate. Here are a few examples of how youth soccer players are asked to "sacrafice for the team", sacrafices which hinder their own development and enjoyment of the game.

A youth player gets limited playing time, or only gets to play meaningless minutes because the team must win.  Every dedicated and committed player is entitled to play at least half of the game. Development coaches understand that players come to play, they don’t come to sit and watch the other players play. Players want to play, they have the right to play and in order to reach their potential, they must play.  


A youth player who is kept in goal against their wishes, because they are the best goalkeeper on the team, and this makes the team have a better chance at winning.  The modern goalkeeper also needs to function as a sweeper and lead the defense.  A player needs to have the opportunity to play on the field. If not, the development of this player is being delayed. 

A player is discouraged from advancing to more competitive teams because we need to keep the player on their current team in order for the team to continue to win games.  Each player needs to be able to rise as far as their ability takes them, even if they leave the team or the club.  
Our job at Prime Soccer Club is to develop players, and any system, tactic or team is only as good as the individual players within it. Each player needs to develop individually. 

Age Appropriate
The reason kids play is because they enjoy playing. We need to remember to keep the game fun while progressively challenging each player.  As soon as soccer stops being fun, they will not want to play anymore. Small-sided games that scale the game down to an appropriate size, which will maximize touches for the individual player and keep the game fun.  Imposing the 11v11 adult game on youth players too early will frustrate their development.  Players go through stages of development.  Coaches need to be knowledgeable about these stages and recognize where their players are on the continuum.
Quality Training
Just because you’re not a former professional player doesn’t mean you don’t coach professionally. We expect each of our coaches to obtain US Soccer licenses, beginning with the E license, and we support our coaches with resources. Coaching is a skill that demands continuous improvement, and we encourage coaches to keep learning.
Long Term vs. Short Term
True leaders begin with the end in mind.  The end of all this effort is to develop a well rounded, soccer player who is technically competent, creative, physically able, who is game smart, who loves the game and wants to impart it to others.
What is the ultimate trophy for Prime Soccer Club ?  
When we are developing and promoting excellent players, that’s our reward.
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