Olympic Development Program
The environment in which elite youth soccer players are identified in the United States is expanding. While U.S. Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Program is the original and, to date, most effective method of identifying and developing elite players, there are an increasing number of paths a young player can take to achieve regional and even national recognition. As one such path, Massachusetts Youth Soccer has upgraded its Olympic Development Program. We have returned to the basic mission of identifying and developing elite players in the most challenging and competitive environment possible and to the notion that playing on a Massachusetts State Team is a hard-earned honor. ODP is devoted entirely to the development of individual players and geared solely to the identification of the elite player. Unlike environments in which team achievement is paramount, ODP is free to develop the individual player with only his or her best interests in mind.
The best players get better by playing with and against the best players. In order to serve our elite youth soccer players in Massachusetts, ODP continues to grow and adapt as a program. We continue to tailor each aspect of ODP in a manner that will best prepare our elite players to play and compete at the highest levels of competition. For example, years ago ODP introduced a sports psychology element to our winter training and will continue to adopt innovative and engaging programs to better prepare our young athletes. In continuing to update and upgrade Massachusetts ODP, the following improvements have been made in recent season:
Exempt from Tryouts. Players who were invited into a Region 1 pool at the conclusion of the Region 1 Camp or who have been invited to a Youth National Team Pool will not be required to attend ODP Tryouts.
Regional/National Team Training. Periodically, players who have been identified for Regional or National Team pools will train as a single group with Ian Mulliner, Massachusetts Youth Soccer’s Technical Director. Multiple age groups will train together so as to create as competitive an environment as possible.
APEX Fitness Testing. Each age group will undergo APEX fitness training and will receive feedback not only on areas in which they need to improve, but specific methods on how to make those improvements in their training.
FIFA 11+. FIFA 11+ is a complete warm-up program designed by experts to reduce injuries among youth soccer players aged 14 years and older. The program will be performed as a standard warm-up at the start of each training session.
US Soccer Guide to Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD). US Soccer has developed a program for the effective development of the youth soccer player. ODP has adopted the US Soccer Guide and will approach the training of each individual player in the context of the three (3) phases of development set forth in the US Soccer Guide.
1. Basic Stage (U12). For players in our youngest age group, ODP will involve intense, local and centralized training in the late fall, winter and spring. Players will compete in a U12 New England Jamboree hosted at the Massachusetts Youth Soccer complex in Lancaster. The U12 ODP experience will culminate in an end of season Region 1 Camp experience.
2. Intermediate Stage (U13 and U14). Massachusetts ODP will return to the past practice of being more exclusive in its evaluation and selection process. This will result in a smaller pool in these age groups and a return to a single team construct. These age groups will have centralized training events in the late fall, winter and spring. Top players including members of the Region 1 and National Team pools will receive specific integrated training periodically. This program will culminate at the Region 1 Identification Camps in July.
3. Advanced Stage (U15 and U16/17).These pools of players will be selected based upon players’ potential to succeed at the Regional level of competition. These pools will have centralized training over the winter and spring. Teams will be formulated to compete at the Region 1 Tournament in June and the season will culminate in the Region 1 Identification Camps in July. Top players in this stage, including members of the Region 1 and National Team pools, will receive specific integrated training periodically. The U16 and U17 age groups will train together in a competitive environment.
4. Goalkeepers. All goalkeepers in Massachusetts ODP will continue to have specialized and individual training as in the past.
Sports Psychology. Massachusetts ODP will continue its much heralded Sports Psychology program in conjunction with our winter training. There is not another such comprehensive program offered by any club or youth soccer organization in the state. Sports psychology is a critical element to training the elite player and is employed at Region 1 Identification Camps.
The Olympic Development Program was designed to develop and identify the elite youth soccer player across the country. Massachusetts Youth Soccer is updating and upgrading its ODP to make our training environment more competitive and even more responsive to the developmental needs of each individual player. The best players in the game get better by playing with and against the best players. Massachusetts ODP is the ideal environment in which the elite youth soccer player can grow and develop in every aspect of the game and in leading the life of an athlete.