The Long Term Player Development (LTPD) platform for players in the U12 and younger age divisions is called Grassroots Soccer. The goal of Grassroots Soccer is to provide a positive and dynamic learning environment for these young players to master fundamental soccer skills while having fun, rather than emphasizing winning at all costs.
A balanced emphasis in each of the Four Corners of Development (technical, physical, social, psychological) places the player at the centre of the process. Players are introduced to the fundamentals of the game that matches the individual’s current age and stage of development.
LTPD players have a primary focus on their "development". Their program is structured so they are able to receive training from certified volunteer Coaches to further hone their skills during a critical stage of their development during the fall/winter/spring. They then transition to playing in Durham Region's LTPD leagues and festivals.
North Durham United FC has implemented the Grassroots coaching model for U12 and younger players.
The main objective at this stage is to introduce players to fundamentals, movements and skills. Theses skills will be delivered in a safe and fun environment with a player centered approach, allowing players to learn through participation in game based and FUN (Foundation, Understanding, Nurturing) activities.
Skill development at this stage must be well structured, positive and FUN. It should concentrate on having players develop their movement ABC’s - Agility, Balance, Coordination plus Speed while also learning the basics of the game with an emphasis on fun, cooperation, and having maximum time on the ball. Learning to understand the movements going on around them is also a critical skill to be developed at this age.
Players will experience 4v4 festivals throughout the program to express enjoyment and further introduce their skills through small sided games. At this age goalkeepers can be introduced although players should play in all positions including goalkeeper.
Playing small-sided games such as 3v3 or 4v4, can develop a player's ability to read what others are going to do (the play) base on their movements.
Known as the “Golden Age of Learning”, players in this stage will continue to develop their fundamental skills through fun, game-based activities. As players develop, this becomes an important time to teach basic principles of play and to establish training ethics and discipline.
Players are now moving from self-centred to self-critical and are more able to reflect on their actions and learn from their mistakes. They have a high stimulation level during basic skills training and want to learn creative skills.
The focus is on learning by doing, building a larger repertoire of soccer movements and teaching the basic principles of play in a fun and challenging environment. Skill demonstration from the coach and repetitions in training are very important in order to develop skills, but allowing players to make decisions and by creating an enjoyable and motivating environment is essential for stimulating learning.
U9 and U10 players play in a 7v7, including goalkeepers, environment. The maximum game day roster is 12, which allows all players to get a good amount of playing time in each game. Players should continue to play in all positions, including goalkeeper, to get exposure and experience playing in the various areas of the field with differing roles. Games are a maximum time of 50 minutes. These periods are designed for player changes, hydration, and coaching information to be passed along in an environment more conducive to educating the players.
U11 and U12 players play in a 9v9, including goalkeepers, environment. The maximum Game Day roster is 16, which allows all players to get a good amount of playing time in each game. Players should play in a variety of positions to gain knowledge in the requirements of different positions. Games are 70 minutes maximum. These periods are designed for player changes, hydration and coaching information to be passed along in an environment more conducive to educating the players.
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