If you want your child to get the right introduction to soccer, learn the correct skills, and have the kind of positive experience that will keep them playing, look for a local soccer association or recreation program that follows the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) recommendations for each age.
Following the Long-Term Player Development (LTPD) model, the CSA has developed the following program guidelines for children’s soccer at the elementary age levels:
FUNdamentals programs: Children aged U6 to U9
At this age, soccer programs should focus on skills development in a fun environment, and games should be played on smaller fields with smaller goals appropriate to small children. The goal is to build skills and confidence in new players so they will continue to play. All children should have equal playing time in games.
Learn more about FUNdamentals programs by reading the CSA brochure Wellness to World Cup.
Learn to train programs: Children aged U9-U12
At this stage, programs should still emphasize skill development. While basic team tactics can be introduced, coaches should not be trying to “win at all costs” by playing only their best players. The aim is to continue to develop each child’s skills and love of the game so they will continue in the soccer. All children should have equal playing time in games.
Learn more about Learn to Train programs by reading the CSA brochure Wellness to World Cup.
In all programs during these early ages, there should be no league standings or championship trophies for individual teams. Trophies and championships will follow at later stages when the children enter their teens. To understand why league standings and trophies are not recommended at these young ages, read the CSA information sheet on competition in the early stages of LTPD.
You can learn more about quality soccer programs at Canadian Sport for Life.