ASA Youth Academy for U10/U9 Players — A Two-Year Cohort Program

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Promoting player development over team development in a child centered environment.

The mandates handed down from the U.S. Soccer Federation gave us a great opportunity to introduce the Youth Academy to our membership. This approach is vital if our players and clubs want to keep producing and competing against high caliber organizations from other states.

An Academy Program focuses on the complete development of each player. A properly organized Academy provides an educational environment for boys and girls to learn through playing; the main emphasis is of enjoying the process of technical development and gradual tactical understanding. The main goal of the ASA Youth Academy is to promote player development over team development in a child-centered environment.
The training grounds are where great teachers can help further the technical development of each player in an environment that encourages players to make mistakes. Each applied club will adhere to the following set of standards:

  • Each club shall designate a Youth Academy director
  • Clubs must establish a well-planned and progressive curriculum
  • Every Youth Academy coach must possess the USSF F License and the USSF E License within 1st year of coaching in the Youth Academy
  • Clubs will hold a minimum of two parent education/interactions per season
  • Players will be entered into the pool from assessments/evaluations rather than “tryouts”

We truly believe that this program will be a positive foundation of development for players, coaches, parents, referees, and administrators by providing educational opportunities for players (and their parents) in the Basic Stage of the Long-Term Athlete Development Model.

For more information on the ASA Youth Academy, go to

Here is what Club Directors are saying…

BUSA is very excited to join the ASA Academy Program. It is exciting to see our state taking the necessary steps to help grow and develop our youngest players with a systematic developmental model. We are very excited to be a part of the Academy and look forward to a great year of positive growth and development.

Andrew Brower – Executive Director, BUSA

Huntsville FC has led the charge with organized pool play and parity team concepts for the past three years. In doing so, our pools have expanded up to 4x and keeps kids in the game during this critical phase of their development. The new Youth Academy with Alabama will integrate nicely as it provides the necessary forum to get games in an organized system and allows Directors to create the proper matchups.

Marty Clark – Executive Director, Huntsville FC

Fairhope Academy is looking forward to the implementation of the new ASA Academy program. The ages targeted with the Youth Academy are the most important ages for a young soccer player to grow and love the game. The concept of the individual player development vs the team development should be very attractive for each player looking to grow and develop.

Nick Cooper – Director of Coaching, Fairhope Soccer Club

The implementation of a Youth Academy Program in Alabama is in the best interest of our player’s long-term development. Having a pool of players playing together based on ability and giving clubs the flexibility to move players around is key. Also being able to set up competitive matches in a healthy environment will foster the growth of our players.

Manny Sanchez – Vice President and Director of the Emory Folmar YMCA

We are excited about the new Youth Academy that Alabama Soccer is launching this fall. I am a big advocate for developing better players ahead of better teams at the U9-U10 level and this program will help us do that.

Ryan Leib – Director of Coaching, Briarwood SC


About Author

Zac Crawford

Zac Crawford holds the USSF ‘A’ License and National Youth License, the NSCAA “Premier diploma” and “Advanced National Goalkeeping” diploma, and a TOPS Soccer Level 1 Certification. He also earned two master’s degrees (Cognitive Psychology in 2003 and Human Performance with an emphasis in Sport Management in 2009) from the University of Alabama.

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