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PlayOn — Season & Structure Overview

As the season kicks off, we at Washington Youth Soccer think it's important to share an overall picture of the current soccer climate here in the state. It is important for you, as a parent, to understand the developmental levels and initiatives that we offer your player. Some important developmental areas that we will highlight for the season include: your role as the parent of a soccer player; the role of the player; and what you should expect from your child's season, coach and general soccer experience.

This article has been compiled to assist in your child's continued development and to ensure your child is playing at the correct level and in the best possible environment. Parents need to be better informed in where, who, what and how their children are receiving their soccer education and experiences.

Who is Washington Youth Soccer and where do we sit in the global soccer structure?

Washington Youth Soccer programs service over 120,000 registered players, 20,000 coaches, 42 Member Associations and 250 plus clubs. Washington Youth Soccer is the US Youth Soccer governing body here in the state of Washington for youth soccer (players 5-19 years of age).

What are the levels of play and what is the developmental pathway here in Washington?

Washington Youth Soccer offers four levels of play, through our highest levels of play, we facilitate opportunities with Regional and National level programs, which are also described below.

Recreational Level of Play

The recreational level of play is an ideal entry point for those who want to be introduced to the game and participate in a team or club. The recreational level of play is primarily devoted to the enjoyment and development of soccer players, without the emphasis on travel or high-level competition. Recreational soccer is open to all players and no tryouts are involved in joining a team.

Select Level of Play

The select level of play is designed to address two essential needs:

  1. To provide an opportunity for players who aspire to eventually play at the Regional Club League (Washington Youth Soccer's highest level of Club play). The select level of play gives these players an avenue to develop their skills and techniques.
  2. To provide a competitive alternative for players who do not want to make the time commitment or need further development to advance to the highest levels of play.

Regional Club League

The Regional Club Level of Play is designed for the most committed and skilled players. Club teams are formed from the most skilled players, who must earn a playing position by trying out for the respective team. Training is demanding and is year-round. Consistent with the highest competitive level of play, the time commitment of the player (other sports beyond soccer are expected to be minimal) and the respective monetary cost are normally greater than other levels of play.

Elite Player Development (EPD)

Elite Player Development is Washington Youth Soccer's most prestigious development program for the state's 120,000 players. Through the EPD program players compete against state associations at regional and National competitions in front of college, and US Soccer scouts.

What is the Elite Player Development (EPD) state team program?

The Elite Player Development program offers the top developmental and identification opportunities for the most elite of Washington's 120,000 players. Through the EPD program, players are given the opportunity to compete in Regional and National competitions against other state associations in front of college and U.S. Soccer scouts.

Players are identified and selected for the EPD state pools through EPD open tryouts. This year, over 1,000 players attended the three available sessions of open tryouts, vying for highly-sought-after roster spots. On the boys' side, the program is made up of players born between 1997-2000; on the girls' side, age groups range from 1995-2000.

Through our programming and partnerships with U.S. Soccer, Sounders FC, and various universities, we offer players a multitude of programs, tournaments and identification events to participate in. Through the EPD, our practitioners will strategically hand-select the best development opportunities to create a complete package that best suits our players' needs. The EPD program will ensure that the best avenues for the development of our elite players here in Washington are created to provide the correct matriculation and education.

The Washington Youth Soccer/Sounders FC EPD program will develop hundreds of elite boys and girls athletes across the state between the ages of 10-17, from all sections of our community. Our objective is to develop a precise learning environment for the education and progress of each and every selected player.

What are the levels of accreditation that ensure coaches are qualified, prepared and ready to assist in your child's development?

For more information on taking a coaching course and to find coaching resources, click here.

What is the parent's role in their child's development during the season?

Parents play a vital role in supporting their children's long-term soccer development. Parents must practice respectable sideline behavior, limiting communication with their child during games. It is additionally the parent's responsibility to educate their children on the importance of fair play. For more information and tips on how you can foster fair play and support a successful season for your player, read the Season Guide For Parents I posted in last year's September PlayOn!

In order to maximize their player's soccer experience, parents need to increase their knowledge and understanding of what is chronologically appropriate in terms of training and education. By doing this, parents allow their children to enjoy longevity in the game and achieve everlasting positive memories. Washington Youth Soccer has a long term player development plan to we use as an overarching philosophy in all of our player and coaching development curriculum. The Long Term Player Development Plan is a great place to get started to learn more about how your player should be developing. Read the Long Term Player Development plan here.

Development is an ongoing project and we need to gain a healthy prospective in regards to how we value winning and results. Make development and enjoyment the number-one priorities for playing sports at the youth level. After the game, ask your children if they had fun and if they played well, rather than focusing on the game's outcome!

What are some of the basics that players should look to improve upon during the season?

Technical Skills

  • Dealing with the ball effectively while under pressure
  • First touch & receiving skills
  • Using both feet
  • Dribbling in tight areas and at speed
  • Ball mastery
  • All fundamental techniques – Receiving, Passing, Dribbling, Running with the Ball, Shooting, Heading (no need to focus on this until U13; only introductory safe exercises focusing on body and ball technique should be briefly touched upon until this age) and Goal Keeping techniques.

Tactical Skills

  • Moving into space to receive the ball
  • Ability to recognize how to spot a pass between players
  • Making creative runs to receive the ball
  • Understanding their role when playing in a position

Physical Skills*

  • Balance
  • Agility & coordination
  • Age appropriate physical skills

    *The ball should be included in everything you do — one ball between two players should be the maximum ratio, unless you are doing small-sided games or small-group activities!

Mental Skills

  • Ability to cope in a developmental training environment
  • The seven Cs : 1. Communication, 2. Concentration, 3. Courage, 4. Commitment, 5. Control, 6. Composure, 7. Competitive consistency

Social Skills

  • Ability to fit in with the rest of the group the team
  • Ability to work in a group and be a positive member
  • Willingness to show personal initiative to improve

What qualities should you see your coach working on during the season?

Core coaching responsibilities that the coach should be able to implement:

  • Manage the coaching and training program
  • Guide the players in training
  • Advise the players in competition
  • Support the players in their emotional response to training and competition

The above tasks govern what the coach should be doing, but how the coach chooses to do them (their behavior) determines their effectiveness. Coaches need certain skills, knowledge and experience to undertake these tasks effectively during a season. Common coaching tasks should include:

  • Analyzing performance critically
  • Problem-solving and making ethically-sound decisions
  • Devising and implementing (or managing) a plan
  • Communicating (giving and receiving information, support, guidance)
  • Reviewing (evaluating) progress

What are the different seasonal schedules at each of the various levels during the season?

  • Beginning of September: Season Begins
    • Regional Club League (RCL): Boys U10-U18, Girls U10-U14
    • State League (Select level of play): Boys U14-U19
    • Recreational: Boys and Girls U6-U19
  • Beginning–mid December:
    • Recreational Cup Semi-Finals/Finals
  • Mid-End of January:
    • Regional Club League begins Boys U10-U14 and Girls U15-U18
    • Select/Club (State League) begins: GU15-19
  • Mid February:
    • Founder's Cup Finals Boys and Girls U11-U19
  • End of February-Early March:
    • Challenge and Championship Cup Semi-Final/Final: Boys U15-18 (only)
  • Early-Mid March:
    • RCL ends Boys U10-14 and Girls U15-U18
  • End of March:
    • State League ends (Select level of play)
  • End of April-mid-May:
    • Challenge and Champion's Cup Semi-Finals and Finals Boys and Girls U10-U11
  • Early-Mid May:
    • Challenge and Champion's Cup Semi-Finals and Finals
    • Boys U12-U14 and Girls U12-18
  • May
    • Club Try outss

Washington Youth Soccer

Washington Youth Soccer • 500 S. 336th St. Suite 100 • Federal Way, WA 98003
1-877-424-4318 (Toll Free) • (253) 4-SOCCER (476-2237)

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