Player Development Philosopy and Model

This player development philosophy and model is for our Division 1 Competitive teams. It is not for our AYSO Recreational League.

Our goal in our Division 1 Competitive teams is to develop the complete player using state-of-the-art training methods. We avoid the “win at all costs” mentality by focusing extensively on player development. We want to ensure the children enjoy playing the game and do not burn out or get injured because of being over played. We also prevent injuries in our Club with the use of proper training techniques that build lower body strength and teaching players how to play the game the right way.

Training at the younger ages is very important. The training environment provides the opportunity for learning while the game provides the opportunity for application of the learning that takes place in the trainings. 

A clear focus on motor coordination skills is imperative at the young age. Players must be able to complete a series of tasks and instructions that involve balance, motor coordination, agility, technique, and psycho-motor skills. This can only be achieved through the continual repetition provided in a consistent and clear training environment.

It is important that all young players be able to attack 1v1, defend 1v1, and use creative thought process in the application of these skills. Too many older players do not have the skill set or the ability to attack and defend 1v1 with confidence. Our player development process will focus on this to create older players who are proficient in these skills. We use extensive active coach-mentored game play at every practice to teach young players the fundamentals of organized and creative play.

Footwork, agility, balance, and quickness are all a focus at this level through use of the Jumping Square, a unique device designed by our Director of Coaching, Jorge Espinoza. The Jumping Square promotes these qualities while providing an environment that helps to provide good conditioning. 

Dribbling, passing, and striking techniques are the most fundamental requirements at these ages. Without these, the older player cannot apply the tactics necessary to continue success in the game. Through the use of a number of rebounders at every practice extensive focus is placed on teaching these basic skills in each and every practice.

Winning is not, nor should it ever be, the primary priority at this level. Winning is treated as a natural outcome of well trained players playing at an appropriate competitive level. As winning motivates players we ensure that the skills taught translate to successful play in games.

A proper league structure in which high level competition is achieved against like ability teams is imperative in the development of the young player. It is our main goal to ensure that our teams find right competition every week. It is the only way to consistently measure and adjust the growth of a young player. 

Better prepared and developed players will compete better, recover better, and stay healthy longer in the game.

Being On-Time to Games and Attending All Games

Soccer is a team sport. It is very important that there are enough players to play every game. A player will be removed from a team if they do not attend 80% of the games in a season. Please obtain permission from the Coach at least one day in advance if you are missing games because of an injury and update the TeamSnap Availability Status message accordingly.

Please mark Player Availability for your child for all the games that have been scheduled already in TeamSnap for the entire season. This will help us reschedule games if necessary. You should consistently do this as it enables better planning by everyone managing the team.

Be at the games 45 minutes before game time. If you are going to be late because of another scheduled event please call your Team Manager a day before, or update the Availability in TeamSnap with your reason for coming late. A player coming late once or twice because of scheduled events will not be penalized. All players that are coming late will not start the game and will likely get less playing time in that game.

Strategy at Games

While the premise of soccer seems simple--to kick the ball into the opposing team's goal--the strategies are endless. Only by understanding the complexities of the game can you truly appreciate the strategies being adopted. Our Director of Coaching, Jorge Espinoza, has designed a set of strategies that enable the proper development of young players that translates what is taught in practices into game time success. It is amazing that following these strategies have enabled a small Club like ours to now have the number one team in U11 boys in the 2013/2014 Norther California NorCal League play.

Coach Jorge believes that the game of soccer, to be played at a high level, requires players to play with poise and skill in tight spaces when under pressure. Winning 50-50 balls consistently, having accuracy and power in the dominant foot and proper finishing for scoring when near a goal are essential skills. Coach Jorge has designed game-time strategies that maximize these essential skills that are the focus of all our practices.

The heart of the game time Offensive and Defensive strategies adopted by Coach Jorge are embodied in the cheer he leads the players with in most practices and games:
  • What is Number 1?
  • Pass the ball
  • What is Number 2?
  • Get back and win it

Strategy when on Offense

Move the ball quickly up the field. Avoid taking on defenders in the defensive half of the field. Recognize that at the younger age groups every ball quickly becomes a 50-50 ball. Make the decision to pass the ball quickly when under pressure. A bad pass upfield is better than losing the ball in the defensive half. This knowledge becomes essential to build plays from the back at older age groups. Give the team a lot of opportunities to score. Be calm and collected when near the goal and score most goals by passing into the goal and not shooting into the goal.

As every player is trained in the above skills and strategies, we have had games like the U12 Girls 01G Blue team in 2013 Fall where 8 different players scored in one game. This strategy is also so effective that our U11 Boys Premiere team has scored nearly twice the number of goals this season (2014 Spring) as the next team in the league.

Strategy when on Defense

Play a conservative game defensively and do not give up a lot of goals. Keep the games competitive, do not lose 7-0. Keep the shape of the formation being used consistently and commit to the strategy being used in the game. The defensive strategy changes based on the strength of the opposing team and the condition of our team. When playing against weaker teams we consistently adopt a strategy with smaller number of defenders, more aggressive mid-field play, and more forwards. When playing stronger teams, especially when our players are tired because it is their 2nd or 3rd game of the weekend, we adopt a strategy with larger number of defenders, very defensive mid-field play, with just one striker up front.

There are two games that stand out this season (2014 Spring) that highlight this defensive strategy:

  1. The U11 Boys 02B Blue team, playing against the Bay Area Barcelona team, on April 27th. This was a Sunday morning 9AM game. The team had played a game the day before against a tough opponent and some of the players had played a second game at 8PM the previous night on a U13 Gold level team. This was the third game for the team. Coach Jorge adopted a very defensive strategy as many of the players were tired. The team played with 5 defenders, 4 mid-fielders who were playing very defensively and one striker. The players held the shape of the formation consistently and did not give up any goals in the game, which in itself was a very good achievement. The lone goal that we scored helped us win the game 1-0. Even though this was a very difficult strategy to adopt, it was an invaluable lesson for the players to learn. There will be games in their career where they will be asked by their Coach to play in such a defensive formation and they can proudly say they have successfully played in such a formation already. In fact, Real Madrid played such a formation against Barcelona in Spain's La Liga in 2013. This defensive strategy can be very unpopular with many players/parents/fans as they want to see a more aggressive game where the midfield is not given up to the other team. Coach Jorge believes that a competitive team has to adopt the strategy that best fits the game being played.

  2. The U12 Girls 01G Blue team, playing against the Almaden team, on April 27th. Some of the key midfield players were not available (absent from the game or benched because of late arrival) and the Almaden team is a good team. The Coaches adopted a defensive strategy with 5 defenders, 4 midfielders playing very defensively and one striker. The midfield was given up consistently. Even though the team lost 2-1 they were able to keep the other team at bay for most of the game and created a number of scoring chances that could have won the game.

Playing-time at Games

Players are using the skills they have learned in practice at the games. As players become more proficient they will get more playing time. Competitive teams are focused on player development primarily but also want to keep players motivated by giving them a chance to win every game they play. All competitive players will get at least 33% playing time over the course of the season. It is possible that in some games a player may get less than 33% playing time and in other games get more than 33% playing time. Team Managers keep track of the playing time for players who may receive less playing time and will update Coach Jorge, immediately after a game, with the player name and the amount of time they played. Coach Jorge will then follow up with the team Coach to ensure proper playing time is provided for all players.

If a parent is concerned about playing time for their child they should address the issue with the Director of Coaching, Jorge Espinoza (, and CEO, Madan Bellam ( Please do not address the issue with the team Coach, especially on game days.