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Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club

Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club

Player Development Philosophy


The BHYSC has adopted the Player Development Philosophy (PDP) outlined below which details a cogent framework for youth soccer player development. The Board, working in conjunction with the key Club committees, coaches, and training vendors will ensure that the processes and actions are aligned with the Club's vision for player development.

Player Development Framework

he BHYSC player development philosophy (PDP) focuses on the development of individual player skills at the younger ages gradually transitioning to more tactical development at the older ages.

The particulars of the PDP will guide how the Club:

1) Selects and evaluates training vendors
2) Structures training and provides support for volunteer coaches
3) Designs tryouts such that the criteria for team selection is consistent with the Club's goals
4) Communicates to parents the Club's player development philosophy to enlist their support and manage expectations

The Club will use best efforts to educate parents on the long term advantage to players of focusing on developing individual player skills rather than an over reliance on tactics. The parents must understand that a short-term focus on wins at the younger ages is counterproductive to long-term player skill development.

The Mid NJ Soccer Association, the travel league that the majority of our teams participate in, supports this effort by not award flight championships or even reporting the scores of games played by ages U10 or younger. This is done to take the focus off of winning and help place it on player skill development.

In addition, the Club will ensure that the training vendors are not left with the incorrect perception that they will get rehired based on wins. They will be dissuaded from focusing on tactics, which is the easiest way to win quickly. The Club recognizes that, on occasion, we will face teams incentivized to win with "kick-and-run" tactics and that given our focus on individual player development; this may hurt our win loss record.

Beginning in 2014, the implementation of this philosophy is to be phased in over time through the mandate of strictly following these guidelines. The phase in falls under the jurisdiction of the coach's committee.

A "Director of Player Development" will be named as part of the Training Committee.

Committee Implementation

Training Committee/Soccer Development Academy (SDA)

The Training Committee and SDA director will communicate the Club's player development philosophy and monitor training to ensure that it is being implemented. The Training Committee will perform periodic reviews on the training vendors and obtain feedback from the coaches to ensure that the player development philosophy is being followed on an ongoing basis.

Tryout Committee

The evaluation of players at Tryouts should be consistent with the player development goals the Club has adopted. Players, particularly at the younger ages, should be evaluated on their overall skill level and not based on position. As an example, a player who is playing defense and has been taught only to "kick the ball away real hard" when it comes to them would not be rated as highly as a defender who makes good decisions between clearing the ball and taking possession.

Coaches Committee

This Committee must work harder to uncover specific exercises, which emphasize individual technical skills for younger players, and disseminate them to the coaches. They should also communicate the Club's philosophy clearly to new incoming coaches.

It is to be determined which Committee will be responsible for the socialization of the philosophy with parent's support of coaches who follow the philosophy at that expense of the expense of a winning record.

Coach Implementation

In addition to providing specific technical and tactical teaching requirements at each age level, which are provided below, the Club will also provide coaches with an overarching teaching philosophy that supports the player development program.

In general, we encourage and expect the following from each of our coaches:

1) The players must learn from their own mistakes and develop their own sense of how the game should be played. Coaches should not interfere with this process and should limit their game time instruction to players to the follow times:

a. before the game
b. halftime
c. after the game
d. while on sideline with substitutes

2) Players are placed in a variety of positions, even if the player has an affinity for one position. Even a "natural" striker can increase their understanding of the game by spending time as a defender.
3) Players are not berated for making mistakes. Mistakes are the best way to learn. If mistakes are followed by punishment, the fear of making a mistake will limit the development of player creativity.
4) Even on teams that are athletic, we will encourage a possession game, rather than a kick and run approach. Possession games encourage the development of soccer skills. The value of movement off the ball should be encouraged as part of individual development
5) Rotating starting/substitute players throughout the season.
6) Laws of the games should be taught with a focus on fouls and offsides. Proper set play execution should be a focal point.

The following summaries are examples of some specifics of how the Club should direct training vendors and coaches so as to implement the Player Development framework.


· Players have a ball at their feet the majority of the time.
· Introduce soccer actions, with a focus on developing simple individual technical skills. We can begin to use small-sided games as a "reward" at the end of practice.
· Work on coordination and the pure joy of running and kicking a ball.
· VERY limited instructions for simple concepts such as: "How do we kick a ball?" "How do we aim a kicked ball?", "How do we run with a ball at our feet?"

Travel U9/U10

· Build on the technical skills introduced at SDA
· Introduce the concept of space - moving to space; pass to open player/space, movement without the ball (support, keeping triangle shape).
· Focus remains on technical skills.

Travel U11/12

· Technical and tactical development should shift to a 50/50 mix. Coaches, except in very rare instances, will be unable to resist the pressure from parents who want to see games won, rather than skills developed.
· Playing time should still remain relatively equal among players.

Travel U13/14

Focus shifts toward preparation for high school soccer.


This document is intended to communicate a uniform philosophy for player development within the Club. It provides a coherent framework for coaches, vendors and parents to follow in developing soccer players in the BHYSC. The BOT working in conjunction with the key committees is responsible for implementing and continual evaluation the PDP. While many of the teams in Club have followed a similar framework in the training of their players, the experience has been far from uniform. As the Club has matured, the BOT and the key committee members have recognized that it is desirable to enhance the culture of the Club through one cogent Club wide player development framework. The Club is open to considering changes to the philosophy and welcome comments through the Training Committee. The more uniform of an experience that we provide throughout the Club, the more positive of an experience for all stakeholders in the club (children, parents, coaches and the towns).


Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club
P.O. Box 86  Berkeley Heights New Jersey 07922

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