• ASA Youth Academy
      MISSION: To promote holistic player development in a child-centered environment during a key developmental window in a player’s career.
      WHY: To Increase player enjoyment & player retention in an effort to improve the quality of soccer player developing throughout the state.
      HOW: Create training and game environments that meet player needs, i.e. Optimal Development Environments.
      Optimal Development Environments & Competition Safeguarding
      What does an Optimal Development Environment look like?
      1. Players competing to win by attempting to execute soccer-specific techniques, decisions, player actions and key qualities.  Ultimately, what coaches are teaching in training!
      2. Adversity to overcome that is appropriate to the children’s level of play
      3. Goals scored and conceded
      4. Referee mistakes
      5. Weather & field conditions
      6. Balanced combination of support, demand, and teaching from coaches (NOT JOYSTICKING!)
      7. Competitive score 
      • More than 4 goal difference during a game = consider using Competition Safeguarding Steps
      • 6 or more goal difference during a game = Competition Safeguarding Steps MUST be used!
      WHY unbalanced competition prohibits development:
      Dominating team usually lacks intensity and competitiveness, loses discipline and disengages from the game; all reinforce bad soccer habits
      Losing team usually gets frustrated, lacks intensity and competitiveness, loses discipline and disengages from the game; All reinforce bad soccer habits.
      Neither team develops to their optimal level!
      What is Competition Safeguarding?
      Actions coaches take to balance out mismatched opponents with the intent to create a more Optimal Development Environment.
      1. Move the buildout line back to midfield or appropriate location (Add a buildout line for 9v9 game).
      2. Add a player to the team behind in score
      3. Move players around so the more dominant players get opportunities in positions outside of the spine of the team
      4. Encourage or challenge the winning team with a specific task (not a restriction):
        1. Pass back to the goalkeeper when you win the ball
        2. Try to score off a cross
      Competition Safeguaring carries out the same function as training wheels do on a bike, or floaties in a swimming pool.  It is the same reason we do not ask players this age to play on a full size field - doing so fails to meet the needs of the players.
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