Player Development

Player "development" is a complicated process involving action items at every stage of a player's develiopment. The first step is to be fully aware that many youngsters develop at different time periods of their physical growrh.  The patience of the coach in understanding the status of each player in their physical development years could make a difference in the future of each player. The physical growth of each player reveals that an awkward stage may be underway or that the player is undergoing muscular control measures of body movements. In addition, mental maturity is on a path of its own and requires attention.
The primary object of an AYSO coach is to have each and every player to enjoy the time period of his on-going development. There is no player who will not develop properly or faster than during the time period of enjoyment. Player development requires a complex analysis and it takes time for the learning coach to study the abilities of each player at their present time period. The negative analysis may result in "turning off" a player resulting in attitude changes in the player. The first factor that the coach must understand is that the outcome of the game does not compare to the outcome of each player in their early stage of development.    
In the Pioneers of AYSO early years when every elementary school student was invited to play in AYSO, the Torrance / South Bay commissioners rigorously employed and enforced the rule that every player will play in every game. This resulted in an increase in playing time from 1/4 of each game to 1/2 of each game. The theory here was that a player does not develop on the bench. In fact, at the beginning of each season, it was suggested that only 12 players be assigned to the 15 man roster. This player development action item was to get the player needing the most playing time to get more playing time in the earliest period of the season. During the season, late sign-ups would fill the roster and additional balancing of teams were administered. 
With EVERYONE INVITED, EVERYONE PLAYS, on  BALANCED TEAMS, player development begins. First, the opportunity to play is the foundation. In locating the gifted player throughout America this action results in the optimum potential of player development in arriving at national players. Wth EVERYONE INVITED, a multitude of additional goals are scored. One major addition is the development of the best coaches. During the first years of AYSO, three out of four coaches were former players from foreign countries; this resulted in a quick impact on the growth and quality of AYSO soccer coaches. In the years to follow, the former AYSO players became parents and then coaches. The best of coaches are those with a personal interest in the players. The joy of playing was highlighted and the resulting "fun" developed in a high percentage of players. The resulting "returning players" grew AYSO with unlimited numbers resulting in not only a future fan base but the "opportunity" for the players to develop into high school soccer players. The "opprtunity" to play for your high school amongst your peers developed a "hunger"and "desire" that is vital to player development. Without high school soccer, a robotic style of play will develop. It is necessary for developing players to learn how to elevate all the players on the team, this is a "learning" process" vital to skills dvelopment. In the first ten years, AYSO was blessed with an excellent mix of "traditionalists" and "enthusiasts" and, most important, the freedom of being unaffiliated to allow for the Americanization of AYSO. Not having the burden of multi-ethnic approaches but instead a combination of "traditionalists" and "enthusiasts" that resulted in the usage of a multi-million dollar elementary school system for players, fields, and support provided the "opportunity" for player development, fan development, and with the city school and city government support. Physical education of our American youth in the elementary school system was under financial stress. AYSO provided the physical activity and the school system was delighted; cooperation from both was automatic. 
While AYSO provided the initial "opportunity" in locating the "gifted athlete" throughout the Americas, the youth to high school to college American Way, as noted in other American sports, the devlopment of each and every player to move upward accelerated the complete development especially as our high schools and colleges increased in quality play.
High school soccer provided the players with the best of "development opportunities." To play for your high school peers resulted in a "hunger" and "desire" being developed and resulting in skills development. A player's love of the game with a special hunger for the sport of soccer filled a "need" in that the physical size of the player did not dominate. AYSO leaders at all levels were fully aware of the youth to high school procedure and with millions of players, boys and girls, in the high school program, the future complete devlopment of the best of players was but a matter of time. To support high school soccer became one of AYSO'S major development of players activities. AYSO  management gathered together and placed full support, without waivering, to the youth to high school development of players. The AYSO foundation of quantity first and then the evolution of quality was established. As the years were to go by, the high school programs would reach the higher level of play and then the next step of college sccer would complete the initial, all encompassing soccer development program. This American Way was not new to the AYSO program and very visible by the other American sports that have made football, baseball, basketball, and other American sports to be the best in the world. The AYSO introduction of girls' soccer into the American Way is the best of illustrations of the American Way of player development, reaching world prominence. The AYSO Philosophies for boys' soccer is well on the way and success is noted not only in player development but the quantity and quality of players, fans, and along the way, the most important development, the education of players through a scholastic based system. The early Pioneers of AYSO as written in this web site will enumerate the major decisions that were taken and always with "youth before soccer" with the highest regard for player development but always the players first in their future role as Americans first.  
There were basic advantages in the youth sport of soccer that were recognized by the parents and therein the success of AYSO was founded. AYSO was/is fully aware that the sport of soccer has many advanatges over other youth sports to develop the abilities of the players. In youth soccer, the youngest of players all love to run and kick a large ball and this early involvement results in a happy player simply because of their continuous involvement and opportunity with measureable success. In all other youth sports, players, to be competent, must be physically capable for eye-hand coordination that usually comes at age 9 or above. Youth soccer can begin developing players at age 6 (or less) meaning a few years of earlier development are readily available. The advantage to soccer is that the sport of soccer becomes an early part of their life and a true love of the sport is developed.  The opportuinity for "fun" was a major ingredient to obtaining the "love" of the game.  
The constant running in an outdoor sport especially in cooler climates is beneficial because of the advantages of the fresh air physical activity. Running is common place in youth soccer and develops good muscular growth in developing the athletic prowess of the participants. In those geographical areas were high school soccer does not conflict with high school football, many high school footbal coaches encourage participation in soccer because of the better developed football athletes emerging from soccer.  
The primary development advantageous factor via youth soccer is player size. The advanatage in player development for soccer players is that physical height does not encumber players from developing and in soccer the average sized player is not disadvantaged. The example of the size of professional soccer players, especially when viewed on TV, will encourage  player development because knowing that you can succeed is an integral part of player development.
The early Pioneers of AYSO knew very well the advantages of youth playing and developing in soccer and while many players will be developed, it was decided to INVITE EVERYONE  
to encourage athletic development in every elementaery school student. Although the gifted players will be best located in this procedure, it was the concern of the early Pioneers of      AYSO to provide a beneficial form of enjoyable excercise to all youth. Youth soccer has been a blessing to the youth of America and AYSO is destined, with its player development, to fulfill the dreams and ambitions of all involved. 
The Pioneers of AYSO realized early in her first ten years that a "cry" for the "old country ways"  of reaching the desired international status would be an area for analysis. The Pioneers of AYSO in their AYSO Philosophy of EVERYONE INVITED was the solution in reaching out to the gifted players, locating them, and inviting them with an "opportunity" to play. The minor advantages gained by concentrating on a limited number of quality players and devloping them via "special teams and leagues, academies,etc." would arrive at a short term of acceptable development but the Pioneers of AYSO were more interested in the long range greater success story where every gifted player was sought first and then the American Way of youth to high school to college would present an improved way of selecting the gifted, tested players for further concentrated development. 
The Pioneers of AYSO in recognizing the development of all players and encouraging them to seek an education would be a most lucrative way for the majority. The AYSO GIRLS SOCCER PROGRAM is a classic example of achieving international goals in playing and individual education that indicates the American Way is the preferred way. Therefore, when all elementary school students are invited throughout the USA to play in the great sport of soccer, especially via AYSO, player development is best implemented.   
Player development in AYSO youth soccer is illustrated by the millions of AYSO graduates who today not only provide soccer success at all levels but have resulted in soccer knowledgeable parents who are developing into the best of youth coaches through their own process of living the American Way. In fifty more years, American soccer will have developed with the best of results, and all involved at every level of opportunity will be acknowledged for their efforts.