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RDS Questions

Questions & Answers

What is the RDS?

The Regional Development School is primarily a supplementary training program, designed to give dedicated, high-level soccer players ages 7 to 14, an opportunity to receive additional training in a different environment to their travel team. Focusing on individual, technical aspects of the game, the RDS provides both boys and girls with the additional practice time they require to achieve expertise in soccer.

At the top end of the spectrum, the RDS serves as a means of identifying the region’s top talents, giving them the best possible chance of reaching the New York Red Bulls Academy teams, and perhaps even a career in the professional game.

In reality, and for the majority of participants, the program strives to make each participant more confident in their own skills, so they can maximize their potential, and play to the highest level they find themselves capable of.

In 2016, the RDS launched it's Regional Teams, offering top players the opportunity to represent the RDS on a full time basis. This FAQ is geared more towards the supplementary elements of the program, but for more information on the RDS Regional Teams, visit: http://www.redbullsacademy.com/training/rds/rds-regional-teams/

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Is year-round participation necessary?

It is our belief that players should not have to commit to supplementary training on a permanent basis, and parents should not have to make this commitment financially. Breaking the year down into separate seasons allows families to pick and choose the locations that work for them, and participate as much, or as little, as they wish.

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What is the difference between the spring, summer, fall, and winter RDS?

Spring and fall programs encompass 8 weeks of training, while winter programs are six weeks long. In each instance, the program features one training session per week, on a given day. The summer RDS features week long camps, on both a residential (sleep-away), or non-residential (day camp) basis.

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What is the difference between RDS and other Red Bulls training programs?

The Red Bulls offer a variety of products and services to meet the needs of soccer players of all ages and abilities. All Red Bull coaches are educated and trained to the same exceptionally high standards, and a quality experience can be expected on all Red Bulls programs. However, the RDS may offer slightly more experienced coaches, with higher coaching qualifications, who are more effectively able to challenge players who are already at a higher level.

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Why are some programs 1.5 hours long, and others 2 hours long?

We adjust the length of each program as a function of the cost of field rental. Outdoor locations are typically cheaper, enabling us to offer 2 hours of training at the same price point. Indoor fields are more expensive to rent, so the program is shortened to enable us to offer the same price. Winter field rental is especially expensive, and so winter seasons are also shorter in terms of the number of weeks offered.

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What type of training does the RDS offer?

The RDS offers advanced, individual technical training. As such, the nature of the training is geared towards the individual player, and application of their own technique to perform individual functions. The curriculum is heavily focused on ball mastery and first touch, but centers on all individual skills such as turns, moves, dribbling, passing, receiving, shooting, and of course, defending.

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If my child attends the RDS with a friend, can they expect to be in the same training group?

Not necessarily. By default, players who play on the same team, and who are of the same age, are usually at a similar playing ability. However, as the groups are designed to be developmentally appropriate, players will be placed in a group that the coaches feel will benefit the individual most. Although we endeavor to place teammates together if possible, to maintain the valuable social benefits of participation in soccer, this is not always possible due to coaching ratios, and ensuring the most competitive training dynamic for all players in the group is a priority.

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Is the training specific to my child’s age and ability?

Yes. The RDS offers three separate curriculums, each designed to target the most pertinent aspects of a player’s game at any given age. Players will be placed in the appropriate curriculum based on their displays at training.

Developing: All younger RDS participants will participate in the developing curriculum, which has a heavy focus on individual ball mastery, moves, and turns. Most work is conducted in a 1 player / 1 ball environment, designed to maximize contact time with the ball, and ensure players are as comfortable as possible with the ball at their feet.

Intermediate: With a similarly high focus on individual ball mastery, the intermediate curriculum starts to introduce concepts of combination play, and small group possession. Featuring a heavier focus on first touch, passing, and receiving, this curriculum builds on what players have learned previously, to make them more effective in group interplay.

Advanced: It is assumed that players working from the advanced curriculum have sufficiently mastered the content of the developing and intermediate curriculums, and are ready to focus exclusively on tactical and functional aspects of the game. The advanced curriculum is used infrequently within the RDS, and is beneficial only for older players ready to make the transition to the Academy teams.

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Do different RDS seasons repeat a curriculum, or offer a new one?

Each season of training features a unique, self-contained curriculum. As such, a player does not have to attend consecutive seasons to benefit. However, within each season, many weekly sessions will build on knowledge and skills obtained within that time frame. As such, it is important not to miss too many sessions within a particular season for maximum benefit.

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What can I expect to see at an RDS training session?

All sessions will follow a consistent format, based on Red Bulls’ Approach to Player Development. Sessions will always feature unopposed, individual technical repetition of the weekly topic, and progress to a conditioned game which addresses this weekly topic in an opposed environment. All sessions will conclude with an unrestricted, small sided scrimmage, where coach involvement will be limited, to allow players to demonstrate what they have been working on that week, within a realistic game environment. Small sided games will typically be 3v3, or 4v4, as determined by the group dynamics.

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Why does my child need to try out for the RDS?

RDS tryouts serve as an opportunity to pre-screen all players prior to participation, and ensure the players we accept are ready to train at a more advance level. It provides us with an opportunity to construct training groups that place players in a competitive environment over the ensuing course.

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If my child has already participated in the RDS, do they need to try out again?

Yes, the tryout is a prerequisite for all players, even returning ones. We believe that the tryout serves an important part of a young player's development, so it is a valuable session for them to attend. In addition to this, we want to encourage other players who have been unsuccessful in the past to try out again, as we are committed to developing all levels of player.

The only season of training where returning RDS participants are pre-approved for participation is the RDS Residential Camps. This is due to the large number of registrations we receive, and this allows us to focus our attention on reviewing new applications.

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What activities does the tryout consist of?

There is no secret science behind the RDS tryout format. Players will be engaged in a brief warm up, and then will play a succession of small sided games. This allows our coaches to see players in their natural environment, and assess their ability to play the game in an opposed environment.

At many of our more competitive locations (particularly in the winter), the acceptance rate can be as low as 25%. As such, it is our intention to give all players a positive experience that removes pressure, and allows them to enjoy themselves, and hopefully perform to their potential. Even players who are not accepted should take home positive memories, where they have met other players, made new friends, and learned new skills.

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What are RDS coaches looking for at tryouts?

Because the RDS is not a team, the coaches are not looking for players who demonstrate athletic dominance. For example, being a tall, strong, fast, aggressive player does not guarantee success at these events. Rather, coaches are looking for players who demonstrate that they are able to do the simple things well, and are ready to work on the more advanced nuances of the game. Players who show they have a good first touch, are able to play with their head up, and make good decisions on the ball, do very well at RDS tryouts.

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What will the tryout feedback contain and when will I receive it?

The tryout feedback will be brief and to the point. Players will typically receive one of two responses: an acceptance, or a rejection. Subject to availability, players may be provided with a third variance of feedback: an offer to train at an alternative location. All feedback will be sent via email, with 48 hours of the event. Try out feedback is in the form of a generic email, and is not specifically tailored to give qualitative feedback.

RDS tryouts vary in size depending on season and location, with some locations attracting as many as 500 applicants. Under such conditions, it is both unfair and unrealistic to expect our coaches to provide detailed feedback on each and every child. Such feedback would be arrived at in such a small time frame, that its value would be questionable anyway. Please do not ask for more detailed feedback on a player, as the standard response is always that a player did not demonstrate that they were in the top 12 players, in their age group, on that day. Our coaches can only evaluate players on what they see, on any given day. Any player can have a good day, or a bad day at tryout, and a rejection should not be taken too seriously, but should be interpreted as in invitation to return to tryout again.

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Will I have an opportunity to withdraw my child from consideration after the tryout?

Although registering for a tryout typically signifies your commitment to join a program, if selected, we recognize that the tryout often presents the first opportunity to visit a training location. If, after making this journey, it is apparent that the training location is not feasible due to location, time, or any other reason, we will be happy to withdraw a player from consideration. We ask that you notify us quickly (within a couple of hours of the tryout's conclusion), as once the application has been approved, any subsequent refunds will have administration fees associated with them.

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How do I register for the tryout?

All applications are handled online, in advance of the event. Upon registration, you will input your credit card details, as this acts as an online signature, giving parental permission for your child to participate. All applicants must have an active email address, and credit or debit card, as we do not allow walk up registrations, or payment by cash or check.

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Upon registering for a tryout, when will my card be charged?

Your card will not be charged until after the tryout, and even then, only subject to acceptance. Players who are not offered a space on the program will have the application rejected, and the card will not be charged. Some banks may display a “hold” on the fees, which is a security measure put in place to prevent the account from being overdrawn between the time of registration and time of acceptance. This is not Red Bulls charging the account, but is the bank holding the fees. If this creates a complicated financial situation, let us know, and we will happily remove your application, and allow you to register closer to the time.

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When will I receive specific information regarding the tryout?

Specific details pertaining to the tryout are not posted online. This is because tryouts are almost always at capacity, and we do not want to encourage players to attend unannounced. However, as a rule, tryouts are normally at the same location as the training itself, and usually on the same day and time as the training sessions. Be aware that some tryouts may be very large, which means the event has to be held at an alternate location to accommodate demand. Final confirmation will be emailed to all registered parties one week ahead of the event, and this confirmation will include any time or location changes that you may need to be aware of.

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How are the training groups constructed?

Subject to acceptance into the RDS, players will train in a group of approximately 12 players. The groups will be developmentally appropriate, which means although there may be a range of ages (rarely more than 12 to 18 months), all players are deemed to be at a similar level of technical ability and tactical understanding, therefore creating a training group that has common needs.

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Do players move within training groups once the program has started?

Players are being constantly assessed throughout the course of the program, and players will be moved as and when they demonstrate that they have different training needs to the rest of their group. Players may train with those older, or younger than them, but the focus is always on providing the most appropriate training environment possible.

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Will my child always train in the same group, with the same coach?

The RDS strives to take players out of their comfort zone, and continuously challenge them to reach their fullest potential. In order to do this, from season to season, players may move to different groups and work with various coaches, as we strive to provide them with a different insight, and new guidance on their game. Although all RDS locations feature a core of consistent coaches, there is no guarantee that players will always stay with a particular individual coach.

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What happens if my child misses a session?

We are more than happy to offer a make-up session to players who miss training due to prior commitments. However, this is not always possible due to sessions being full, and there being no spaces to add extra players. In the case that your child needs to attend a make up session, it is imperative that you contact us first, so we can advise if we have space elsewhere. Please note that make-up sessions will not be included in player evaluations, as they may be staffed by a different coach and also focus on a different topic.

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How is my child evaluated throughout the course of the training?

Coaches complete players’ evaluations on a weekly basis. Players are not ranked, or graded, but are provided with a qualitative comment advising them what they need to do differently in order to continue to improve, even beyond the conclusion of the program.

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How will I receive my child’s evaluation?

Player evaluations are sent via email, upon the conclusion of the training. Although we endeavor to send these out as quickly as possible, it can take up to four weeks to send all evaluations for any one location. Should you not receive your email within 28 days, please email us to request that it is resent.

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How can I use the evaluation most effectively?

Your child’s evaluation will be worded in terms that their coach uses within a session. As such, although some of the terminology may be unfamiliar to you, it should make sense to your child. It is important to go through the evaluation with your child to ensure they know what they need to do to continue to improve. If, upon reading it with your child, there is any terminology that remains unclear, you should contact us to clarify, or discuss it with your child’s coach at training.

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Which RDS programs offer a player evaluation?

As a general rule, any RDS program that is subject to a tryout also provides a player evaluation. Spring, fall, and winter seasonal programs offer this benefit, along with summer residential camps. Open registration day camps during the summer do not offer a player evaluation, due to the large number of players our coaches work with over the course of the week.

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What are the Showcase Tournament Teams?

The RDS Showcase Tournament Teams comprise the highest level players from within the program. Participation in the teams is strictly by invite only.

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How does my child earn a space on the Showcase Tournament Team?

In order to be eligible for the Showcase Tournament Team, players should have participated in at least one full season of training. Players who excel within each season, are recommended by their coach to try out for the Showcase Tournament Teams. These recommendations are collated throughout the year, and invited players are notified via email. Such invitations are highly exclusive, and are reserved for around the top 10% of players across the program.

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When will I find out if my child has been chosen to tryout for the showcase team?

Eligibility cycles are annual, beginning in the fall (September), and concluding after the following summer (August), therefore encapsulating winter and spring training seasons. Consequently, successful players are normally notified around the end of August to start of September. Although these records are updated on a seasonal basis, we do not disclose this information throughout the year, as our player pool consistently changes as new players enter our system, and other players leave the area. We do not wish to tell a player that they have earned a recommendation at the conclusion of one season, only to have to withdraw this invitation due to a later influx of talent in any specific age group.

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Will I be notified if my child has not been selected to try out for the showcase teams?

No. Due to the huge numbers of players within the program, we do not send specific notification to players who did not earn an invite. If you do not receive an invitation, it is normally safe to assume that your child was not chosen, although you are welcome to contact us to clarify. When looking for specific feedback as to why a player was not invited for this stage of the program, the best source of feedback is usually the player evaluation.

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Does increased participation enhance my child’s chances of selection?

Indirectly, yes. The more seasons of training a player participates in, the more different coaches they are likely to work with, and the better their chances of being put forward. Additionally, increased participation gives players more opportunity to work on the aspects of the game the RDS value more highly, thus making them more suitable candidates for the teams. However, talented players will not be discriminated against if they are only able to attend one season, and if good enough, will get the opportunity irrespective of attendance.

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When and where do the showcase teams play, and how often do they train?

Showcase teams play only during the winter months, and participate in only one tournament each. RDS teams enter open tournaments, which do not require team rosters or player cards, so participation in the showcase team will not create conflict with a player’s existing club commitments. Showcase teams will undertake one training session in order to familiarize players with one another, and then disband until the following year.

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Is there goalkeeper specific training available in the RDS?

Yes, the RDS offers a goalkeeper specific curriculum at many locations, during each season of training. Although not available at all locations, a select number will offer one goalkeeping group, designed to cater to all players within the 7 to 14 age range. Within each session, players are paired up with training partners deemed to be similar in technique and physical maturation.

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Why is the Goalkeeper curriculum not offered at all locations?

Because there are fewer goalkeepers than outfield players, it is important to channel the high-level goalkeepers to a narrower choice of locations. If the curriculum were to be offered at all locations, the same smaller player pool would be spread out over a larger number of locations. This results in a sub-standard coaching environment, as the age spread is greater, and players are not necessarily paired up with a developmentally appropriate training partner.

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What is the difference between regular RDS training and Futbolinho?

Futbolinho is a futsal-based game, played with a heavier, low rebound size 2 ball, on a hardwood floor. These training sessions feature extended focus on ball mastery, typically conducted to lively background music, to create an exciting, up-tempo training experience.

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How can Futbolinho benefit my child?

The type of ball used in Futbolinho ensures that each player experiences maximum contact time with the ball, leading to increased competence and confidence in possession. The focus on ball mastery encourages players to become more comfortable using the different surfaces of the feet, and fosters an increased ability to manipulate the ball in tight spaces.

Participating in the Futbolinho program still provides all the same benefits as participating in the RDS. All players will receive an end of season evaluation, and still earn eligibility for the Showcase Tournament Teams.

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When and where is the Futbolinho curriculum offered?

Futbolinho is only offered at select locations. Although some locations may feature a futsal specifc training surface, others may be conducted on basketball courts and similar surfaces. We recommend that RDS participants register for Futbolinho as a supplement to their regular RDS training, as it provides a unique change of pace that is useful for maintaining motivation, and a love for the game.

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At what age do the Red Bulls full Academy teams start?

The New York Red Bulls full academy teams start at U12 and are constructed by birth year. Currently, the youngest academy team is comprised of players born in 2006. In the spring of 2018, tryouts will be held for a new team that will be constructed of players with 2007 birth years, who will commence competition the following fall. The cycle continues then from there, with 2008 birth years trying out in 2019, and so on.

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Does participation in the RDS guarantee that my child will be recommended to the Academy?

No. Due to the vast number of players who participate in the RDS, only the highest level participants will be selected to try out for the Academy. Those that have been identified as potential candidates will be notified at the appropriate time.

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How will I find out if my child has been recommended to the Academy?

Academy tryouts are typically in the spring, and look to construct teams that will begin competitive play the following fall. When tryouts are announced for the upcoming Academy teams, players who have demonstrated sufficient potential to compete for a space in the Academy teams will be notified via email. This normally occurs around April, May.

Players who are not deemed at the level to compete for an Academy space are not notified, as there are too many players in the program each year to notify everyone. If you are not notified about Academy try-outs by early June, it is safe to assume that the player is not in serious consideration for the teams.

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Is participation in the RDS a prerequisite for selection to the Academy?

No, although over the past seven years, approximately 98% of all players selected to the Academy have come through the RDS. There are always a small number of players who jump straight to the Academy despite not having been in the RDS, due to living in a region where the program may have been inaccessible. In short, it is possible to get into the Academy without RDS participation, but coming through the RDS certainly dramatically improves a player’s chances.

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Can players earn a tryout for the Academy teams before they are officially eligible?

Due to the strength of the Academy teams, it is very rare for players to play “up”. As such, it is also rare for the RDS to recommend players before they are officially eligible. Although it happens in isolated situations, an age appropriate player will always be viewed more favorably when selecting the candidate’s tier. Younger players will be encouraged to remain in the RDS and continue their development, thus increasing their chances of falling within a higher tier when their time has arrived.

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How do I know if my child is “on track” for the Academy?

If a player is consistently getting invitations to participate in the Showcase Tournament Team events, this is normally a good indicator that they are towards the upper end of the talent pool in their age group. Likewise, if a player is yet to get invited to try out for the showcase teams, this is a fairly reliable indicator that there are a good number of other players ahead of them within their age group, at that given time. However, it is important to remember that players develop at different stages, so just because the player may not be at the front of their age group at one stage, does not mean they can’t reach that level over a period of time.

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Do the Red Bulls have an Academy team for girls?

The Academy teams form part of the Red Bulls' player development pyramid, which is set up primarily to develop professional soccer players to play in the first team. As such, because the Red Bulls do not have a professional women’s team, they also do not have a fully-funded academy for the development of professional women’s players.

However, the Red Bulls are firmly committed to developing female soccer talent, and so the RDS is as committed to developing female players as it is the males. The program is co-ed, and girls will be considered for selection along the same criteria as boys, up to the time they age out of the RDS.

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When will my child “age out” of the RDS?

Catering to players up to the age of 14, the RDS will accept players who are eligible for the youngest existing Academy team. These players may have joined late, and are looking for a chance to be seen by the Academy, or they may have developed late, and grown into an Academy prospect after the team had been selected. Players older than this age group will not be considered for selection, as by that time, the talent pool has become too diluted.

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