Arizona Soccer Club

Thunder Academy Philosophy


Arizona Soccer Club Academy Philosophy

In 2013 AZSC in accordance with new AYSA rules introduced the Academy philosophy for all the players born in 2006 thru 2008. 

The focus of the AZSC Academy is to develop young soccer players and introduce them to the four pillars of soccer: Technical, Tactical, Psychological and Physical.  Players at this age are like sponges and can learn to love the game and develop positive habits and attitudes which provide the foundations for soccer excellence down the road.

The emphasis at this age is to ignite a passion for the game, Thru “FUN” and “ENJOYMENT” where everything is positive and creativity is encouraged. If players enjoy the game at this introductory age then hopefully they will be playing and enjoying the game for years to come.

The AZSC academy program stresses player development versus results. It is much more important to develop players within the proper framework at this age as opposed to demanding that teams win at all costs. If the goal is just to win there are shortcuts that coaches can take at the expense of developing the player and the team. By focusing on developing the player and putting them in the best training situation that fits the individual, this helps the entire team and success will follow.

The curriculum in place at AZSC and the pool training sessions are designed specifically for this age. The coaches who will be working with these players are superb at training and understanding the younger players.

Therefore, you can be completely comfortable in the knowledge that your child is receiving the best soccer instruction for their age and ability.

Our goal is to help each child develop skills and techniques to play "The Beautiful Game of Soccer:"

We want to open the door of creativity for every player with a soccer ball!

“The emphasis on winning is a detriment to young players because it prevents us from developing technically proficient players. And we are not giving them the ability to make decisions.”

–US u17 National Team Coach, John Hackworth. Soccer America, Oct. 2006

“Too often in this country, youth coaches sacrifice learning skills for winning games…

- US Women’s National Team Member, Mia Hamm. Soccer America, Oct. 2006

AZSC Academy Goals

Improving Technique
When players improve their technical ability they grow in confidence and give themselves a greater capacity to process information, which is vital in the development of young soccer players.

Improving Teamwork
Another way to increase enjoyment of the game is through interaction with team mates through small group activities which enhance skillful and imaginative play, for example (2v1, 2v2, 2v3, 3v3, and 4v4 to goals or targets). The players will play in a number of positions to improve their all around understanding and knowledge of the game.

Playing With High Standards
Discipline is a key factor when learning the game of soccer. AZSC Academy expects all players to attend each training session. Shirts tucked in, socks pulled up and wearing AZSC Academy training gear. Equipment, including a soccer ball, shin-guards and water bottle are mandatory items for each session. We also require that the players treat the coaching staff, opponents, and referees with the utmost respect. Many of these standards come from you, the parent, setting the example.

Academy Format

Training Format
Players will be identified and grouped by age and ability. The AZSC staff will teach and develop these players to have the confidence, and the technical ability to enjoy the game. All training is THEME BASED/CURRICULUM BASED in order to achieve basic fundamentals necessary within the game.

The practice format will institute a station style of POOL TRAINING. Simply, the training will consist of stations (2-3 stations) that vary in theme, i.e. dribbling/passing/finishing. The groups should be matched up by level(s) in order to keep the training environment challenging.

The programming will be as follows for ages U8-U10:

Pool Training

The Advantages of Pool Training
• Player development at the Academy ages is VERY FLUID due to different rates of physical / technical maturation and game awareness. Therefore a rigid team system is less appropriate for academy teams.

• By mixing players outside their respective teams, we allow for all the positive developmental aspects that come from stepping beyond their comfort zone. Isolationism amongst our youngest teams can be detrimental to young players’ development.

• Players are placed in an environment that allows them to develop an awareness of the “club culture” among different peers with whom they may compete in the future. It is less about the team and more about the club.

Coaching Games and Practice
The AZSC academy director is responsible for the staffing and scheduling of all games.
Each team will be assigned a club staff coach for their games. The academy director will assign staffing for games among the allotted club staff.
All coaching should be left to the coaching staff.

Parents should refrain from giving any tactical feedback to players regarding
One of the great things we have heard back from players and parents is that each game day event has such a great atmosphere. All of the teams get to play at the same site and teams get there early to support one another and stay after and it makes for a fantastic environment for soccer as the players feel that they are a part of a club and not just on a team.

Positive Parental Support  
Positive support is vital during times of disappointment which is a natural part of a young soccer player’s developmental success. Please refer to your AZSC Code of Conduct which outlines and provides examples of positive parental support. Positive parental support does not include coaching your child from the sidelines as this only confuses players.

Positive Encouragement
Positive encouragement from parents is vital in helping young soccer players succeed and enjoy the game. The job of the parents is to be their child’s biggest fan. Positive feedback and encouragement should outweigh constructive criticism by at least 10 to 1. This allows players to grow in confidence which is the key to success in soccer as well as any sport.

Positive Coaching
Positive coaching from our staff is very important to our players’ development. We must ensure that our players are instilled with confidence to play and have an understanding of the coach's instructions as well as the ability to handle constructive feedback from the coach. Encouragement at this level is a massive motivational tool to making our players successful, creative and well rounded soccer players.

In Summary
As a club, we feel that the AZSC academy style system will benefit the player and increase their development in the game of soccer. We believe that by implementing these ideas, we will see players improve at greater rates in a fun and a positive environment. The staff at AZSC is confident that your child will thrive in a setting that encourages creativity and skill rather than in one which is focused on results and standings