The Soccer Environment:
- WSA promotes participation, in an enjoyable environment, free from discrimination and harassment, guided by the principles of fair play, moral and ethical behaviour.
- WSA promotes elite soccer but also lifelong participation in soccer.
- WSA promotes a drive for excellence in players, coaches .
- WSA promotes that players achieve National team status
- WSA promotes skill development through appropriate training and competition according to the age and stage of growth and development of the player.
- WSA promotes long-term player development (LTPD).
- WSA promotes opportunities to advance in soccer skills through soccer academy, Elite Program and Teams.
- WSA promotes decision-making that is based on a player-centered philosophy.
Stages of Long-Term Player Development
Sports can be classified as early or late specialization sports. Figuring skating is an example of an early specialization sport. Soccer is a late specialization sport. Soccer training that is too strenuous and serious prior to 10 years of age contributes to imbalanced physical development, overuse injuries, early burnout, and inadequate development of movement and sports skills.
WSA promotes a program that adheres to the CSA’s seven stages of long-term player development and the European coaching methods including the Coerver Coaching method for the younger players .
Stage 1: Active Start (First Kicks)
This stage concerns U4 to U6 girls and boys. It is an introductory stage whose objective is to get children moving and to keep them active. No competitive games should be involved. The technical requirements are simply encouraging children to play with the ball by kicking, dribbling, and shooting.
Stage 2: FUNdamentals (Fun with the ball)
This stage concerns U6 to U8 females and U6 to U9 males. Coaches should create a stimulating learning environment about “freedom and fun”. Technical development focuses on getting a feel for the ball when receiving, passing, dribbling, kicking, and shooting.
Stage 3: Learning to train (The golden age of learning)
This stage concerns U8 to U11 females and U9 to U12 males. This stage is the optimal window for developing of speed, flexibility, and technical skills. It is also an important time to teach basics principles of play and to establish a training ethic and discipline.
Stage 4: Training to train (Identifying the elite player)
This stage concerns U11 to U15 females and U12 to U16 males. This stage involves making increasing demands on developing stamina, strength, concentration, and mental toughness. Learning playing tactics becomes important. Technical instruction introduces advanced techniques to those players who are capable, and the skills are presented within a more complex environment with position-specific emphasis.
Stage 5: Training to compete (Developing the elite player)
This stage concerns U15 to U19 females and U16 to U20 males. This stage involves players working to gain more game maturity as they learn to perform skills under a variety of competitive conditions. Players should acquire emotional stability when confronted with pressure situations.
Stage 6: Training to win (Building the best player)
This stage concerns U18+ females and U19+ males. The majority of a player’s physical, technical, tactical, and psychological qualities should now be fully established. The focus of training becomes the optimization of performance and the maximization of all capacities.
Stage 7: Active for life (Soccer for health and grassroots growth)
This stage concerns adults. Some players may play recreational soccer; others may play for premier/pro teams; and still others may stop playing. The game format and training approach should be adapted to suit the level of play. Players and non-players are encouraged to give something back to the sport by such means as coaching and refereeing.