When it comes to teaching fundamental soccer skills, at least one kids’ soccer program is doing things right. In Richmond, B.C., the TSS Academy first focuses on teaching skills to their child players. Games come later.
Like any sport, soccer requires players to have certain basic skills such as dribbling, passing, and shooting. The problem with too many soccer programs for kids under 12 years of age is that they spend too much time playing games and very little time learning and practicing the skills that make the game. Without the skills, there isn’t much of a game, and the kids don’t develop nearly as well in the long run as players.
The TSS Academy curriculum is very much in line with the new Long-Term Player Development (LTPD) model promoted by the Canadian Soccer Association. In a nutshell, LTPD says five-year-old soccer players should not be training like 15-year-old players, and certainly not like 25-year-old players.
Does that sound like a no-brainer? The sad truth is that many kids’ soccer programs still train children like adults, hence the need for the LTPD guidelines.
The Ontario Soccer Association has also produced a very good video to explain how the LTPD approach works.
Learning skills just makes sense. We would never ask a class of six-year-olds to write an essay without first teaching them how to write words and sentences. By the same logic, it doesn’t make sense to put small kids into soccer games without learning and practicing the basic skills first.