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Training and Match Recommendations

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Youth soccer organizations should pay close attention to creating a suitable training and game day environment which is suitable to players age, ability and commitment level. A well-structured long-term development plan will create a scenario where players will have better success in mastering the environment that has been created for them.

Over-training, playing too many games per season and competing year-round can have a detrimental effect on a players long-term development.
The table below provides clubs with recommendations in three training and game areas, these are suggestions that will help create an optimal training environment. Some clubs may have external factors such as field space that may affect the full implementation of each element.

1.    Training recommendations
2.    Competition recommendations
3.    Game Day recommendations

VARIABLES

The following factors impact each of the areas:
•    Is the team recreation or travel?
•    What is the commitment level of the team?
•    What is the overall team ability level?

(1) TRAINING RECOMMENDATIONS

The following table provides suggestion on training length, number of sessions per week, number of playing seasons, ball size and if the group should be co-ed.
AREA
U6
U8
U10
U12
U14
U16
TRAINING DURATIONS (MINUTES)
45-60
60-90
60-90
90
90
90
SESSIONS PER WEEK
1
1-2
2
2-3
2-3
2-3
PLAYING SEASONS
1-2
2
2-3
2-3
2-3
2-3
SOCCER BALLS SIZE
3
4
4
4
5
5
CO-ED
Yes
Yes/No
No
No
No
No


Additional considerations:
  • Ball Size: For travel soccer, ball size should default to the same size used during game play
  • Coed: For travel soccer, U8 is often the age group where gender is separated. For in-house and clinic style programs, coed groups can be used as needed for older ages.
  • Playing season: The youth soccer calendar has two main playing seasons, spring and fall. Summer and winter are considered supplemental seasons. The overall goals and commitment levels of the team will impact the number of seasons that a team commits to. It is important that all teams, regardless of ability and commitment level, take a break for at least one of the four main seasons. 

(2) COMPETITION RECOMMENDATIONS

The following table provides recommendations as to when a club should start travel soccer and enter tournaments.
AREA
U6
U8
U10
U12
U14
U16
TRAVEL SOCCER
No
Locally
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
TOURNAMENT ATTENDANCE
No
Festivals
1 per season
1 per season
1 per season
1 per season

Additional considerations:
  • Travel Soccer: At the younger ages it is more beneficial to keep players within an in-house development program so that they can master the technical aspects of the game without the pressures of travel soccer. Even at U8 and above, travel soccer should be done with a fun player centered approach in line with the Red Bulls philosophy towards winning and player development.

(3) GAME DAY RECOMMENDATIONS

For travel programs, game day logistical decisions are driven by the governing league. For this reason the Red Bulls recommend that clubs should follow the guidelines provided by US Soccer and US Youth Soccer. These two organizations provide a number of great resources that cover the following topics:
  • Field Size
  • Match Duration
  • Number of players on the field
  • Roster size
  • Goalkeepers
  • Playing time
  • Restarts
 
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