Historically, the youngest age groups have had the weakest coaches, the least attention to the foundations of soccer ....and, yet are at the ages where the most learning can occur.
The idea behind a U6/U8 Academy style system is that, rather than:
Put the players on teams where the strong players dominate the ball and weak players are left with few touches
Throw the parents that are newest to coaching onto the field with very little oversight and development
Continue a "win-first" mindset (coaches and parents have egos, too).
The Academy style is meant to:
Provide maximum ball touches for every child
Train coaches in the fundamentals of soccer, how children learn and their role in the process.
Develop Coaches to confidently continue their coaching well into the future
Prioritize fun and learning above all.
Incorporate correct soccer verbiage and strategy into all levels of coaching in the club
We do this by:
Having group training sessions where all the players (U6 and then U8) are on the field at the same time receiving the same training.
Parent coaches are actively involved and under the guidance of a few "experienced" coaches who are leading the practice
Children are divided differently each practice and given pennies when playing a game.
Rather than game days, we have weekly “jamborees" where everyone shows up, we divide teams and play a Wembley style
The focus is on many touches, having fun and learning terminology - for player, coaches and parents
The result is that we have players with better skills - that "see" and understand the game, and have the knowledge to make smart decisions on the field. We also have tenured coaches who will help lead the club in the future, and parents who understand the values of the club. And, all this was accomplished because we were able to control the environment and set the right tone -- the club culture begins to form.