The FC Wisconsin Youth Academy is for players age 6-10, and is staffed by the same coaches that work with the club's top teams and players in senior age groups. This insures a consistent development philosophy and methodology at all ages of the club, and a fantastic learning environment for young players. The winter is a great development period for players in the Youth Academy, as they have continued to learn about spacing, positioning, and decision-making as they are taught the cognitive building blocks of the game.
The Youth Academy teams are currently focusing on individual comfort with the ball, and passing and receiving in order to keep possession of the ball as a group. At U8, these concepts are being taught in game-like activities, like 2v1 situations, where the "extra" player allows more frequent decisions of whether to pass or dribble (as well as the details of where, when, why, and how)! At U9 and U10 the activities change to focus more on continuing to keep possession for longer periods of time - challenging concentration, perception, and decision-making even more in an ever-changing, fluid game. In activities like 2v2 +2, the game itself creates constant opportunity for repetition of movements to get away from defenders, to create passing lanes, and to apply passing and receiving techniques.
In all the Youth Academy sessions, and in all the coaching points, the focus is on individual players and their perception, cognition, and decison-making. For example, players are asked questions like:
- How do you move to get away from defenders?
- How can you make space for yourself in this situation?
- Why did that pass get intercepted?
As players describe what they see and think, coaches help guide them in identifying key concepts or cues within the game. A typical U10 session from the club's curriculum library is below:
The Youth Academy provides FC Wisconsin's youngest players with exceptional learning opportunities. "All the activities are designed to be game like and continuous, so the players are learning and discovering via playing the game," says Youth Director Andy Lee. "We are working with players to be more involved in their own learning, and to create a fun competitive environment. This is done in a variety of ways, such as empowering them to set up and run their own teams, facillitating player led group discussions, and encouraging competitive challenges and games through everything."
For more information on the Youth Academy, click here.