The Girls' Development Academy is part of U.S. Soccer's global leadership position in women's soccer and connects with its mission to develop world-class players, coaches and referees. The objective of the Academy is to impact the everyday club environment to develop world-class players.
The creation of the Girls' Development Academy provides an improved player development model for the elite female player to focus solely on training with the appropriate number and level of games. This model focuses on the developing the individual player within the club environment, which allows for additional training sessions per season to enhance player development.
U.S. Soccer started the Development Academy Program to improve long-term player and coach development. After studying player development models domestically and internationally, U.S. Soccer collaborated with elite soccer clubs across the nation to create a program to provide the proper environment by emphasizing quality training and limited meaningful competition.
U.S. Soccer wanted to provide a player centered program that is focused on the development of the individual without bias, distractions, self-interests and financial gains that compromise the optimal everyday environment. This is needed to continue to set the standard for world-class players.
The Academy's elite training environment promotes increased technical standards and allows for greater accountability for players and coaches. Coaches can devote more time to these areas in training. Both players and coaches must learn to deal with and manage the challenges of playing in games using international rules, which is what players will experience at the highest levels.
The Academy program provides an improved environment with the proper training-to-game ratio that supports year round periodization for development.
By participating in the Academy, a player will have substantially more hours on the training field focused on refining technique and tactical understanding. With a minimum of four training sessions per week, there is significant opportunity to work on technique and receive instruction from coaches and U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors as part of a continuous seasonal plan for the players' development.
USSF Development Academy teams will train a total of 4 days per week. Players are expected to attend all practices to be considered for competition in games.
Each Academy club plays approximately 30 league games, including 6 games played at Showcases. The season begins in September and commences with Finals Week in July.
All U13 though U18/19 full-time Academy players, including goalkeepers, are required to start at least 25% of the Academy’s games during the season.
Each team will select between 18-22 players for the given year.
US Soccer scouts attend the majority of development academy games and showcases to identify players for National team camps & US Training centers.
Development Academy players undoubtedly receive the best college exposure of any club in the country two USSF Development Academy Showcase events and attendance of college coaches at development academy games and showcases. The USSF Development Academy program will certainly help players to pursue their college dreams & make them a reality.
Academy clubs can expect 15-20 away matches in a given season, some of which will require overnight travel. Exact travel distances will vary depending on their geographic proximity to their opponents and Academy events.
In order to develop players of the highest quality, the top players must be training and playing with each other regularly. High school soccer has assisted in helping some players to grow and it does encourage community spirit. Often times, however, the best players are not challenged sufficiently in training or in games because they excel above the level of their teammates and opponents.
In February of 2012, US Soccer mandated that for the Boys Development Academy, to aid development, all players were to forgo high school seasons. US Soccer then scheduled Academy games over a 10-month league period, allowing for some blackout periods and down time. This was done mainly to help prevent injuries, spread games out, increase training opportunities and improve the overall development of young players. The Girls Development Academy will follow this successful precedent.
There are benefits to playing high school soccer. However, each high school has players spread over 4 years of physical development, we have to agree with US Soccer that Academy Clubs should take on the responsibility of holistic player development year round.