PURPOSE AND OVERVIEW
(See below for Frequently Asked Questions)
Welcome to the Youth Academy Program at Gwinnett Soccer Academy! We are very excited about the success of our Academy Program; you and your children are very important to our success. The Academy Program is a development program that focuses on the technical, tactical, mental and physiological development of players ages 9U - 12U. This is achieved through a progressive curriculum and outstanding, professional coaching staff that have played and or coached at every level and possess professional coaching licenses and diplomas from the United States Soccer Federation and/or the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
The Academy is structured so that our players are part of an age group pool (boys and girls train separately). All players within the age group will train at the same time and practice space with an appropriate number of coaches to maintain a good player to coach ratio. The philosophy behind this structure is to allow the group (both players and staff) to be able to interact with everybody involved in the age group, so their exposure is more than a typical “team” environment. On the weekend, we roster teams that will compete at varying levels against other clubs in Metro Atlanta; this system provides fluidity where players can be rostered at a level that is relevant to their development and receive the benefit of learning from multiple coaches over the course of the year. The coaches can also specifically tailor the practices to the needs of the players based on where they are on their own developmental ladder. Each coach, over time, will work with every player in the group.
As children grow, rates of development (physically and emotionally) can vary drastically; the age group pool provides an arena that there is always an appropriate place for each player to compete no matter where the child is on their journey. By being familiar with every player, each coach will be able to make the transition much easier when it is time to move a player “up” or in some cases "down". At times an individual may need to rebuild some confidence or maybe their soccer growth has slowed and may need to be placed in a less competitive environment in order to have a chance to be successful. In other cases, a player might LOVE playing goalie. This player might even be an exceptional goalie, and as a goalie, might fit in at the top level of competition on the weekends but not as a field player; since we are trying to develop well-rounded soccer players, we may offer this player the chance to play in two games occasionally: one game at a higher level where the primary position would be as a goalie, and one game at lower level, so the player can still develop field player skills. Other times, the same player might play half a game as a goalie and half a game as a field player at one "level". This is just one example of how we can tailor the program to meet each individual player's development needs.
Training takes place twice per week, and there are optional training sessions throughout the week that we encourage our players to attend which include speed, agility, extra technical training, Futsal, and goalkeeper training. The Academy Program prepares the youth soccer player to enter the Select program at 13U with a wealth of knowledge regarding all aspects of the game. Our ideal goal is to have around 34-36 players at 13U that have been a part of the Academy program since 9U. Obviously, this varies from age group to age group based on the depth of the talent pool, but this is our goal.
The focus of our Academy is not on wins and losses but the development of the individual player. These are the "Golden Ages" of development. Players will learn and improve faster at these age groups than any other age for the rest of their soccer careers. Technical, or skill, development is the primary focus. Team shape and small group attacking/defending principles is also a significant part of players' development and training at these ages. Additional "tactics" are progressively introduced throughout the four year Academy program. The curriculum for the Academy program is similar to that of a typical educational curriculum: each week, month, season, and year will build from the foundation from past experiences and developments. It is for this reason that we encourage players (if appropriate) to enter the Academy at the U9 age group, so the foundation is solid for years to come! We hold annual evaluations (basically tryouts, but less stressful) each year to determine if the Academy program would be a good fit for each individual. The commitment required for this program is two seasons: Fall and Spring.
Finally, like any of our soccer programs at GSA, we promote teamwork, enthusiasm, enjoyment, and a lifelong love for the "beautiful game" of soccer. We look forward to working with you and your children this upcoming soccer season.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
These questions and responses were taken DIRECTLY from email communication we have had with members. There were some common themes being revisited over and over, so we felt like it might be helpful to post some of those questions/responses here. We hope this increases the transparency of our Academy/Select program.
What is the Youth Academy Program with Gwinnett Soccer Academy?
The Youth Academy Program is a developmental program that focuses on the technical, tactical, mental and physiological development of players ages 9U - 12U.
Where is the Gwinnett Soccer Academy program located?
Gwinnett Soccer Academy has two locations that cover Gwinnett County. Each location has a full complement of teams for all ages and levels.
North: Serves Dacula and surrounding areas
South: Serves Lilburn and surrounding areas
How does Youth Academy differ from recreational soccer?
The Youth Academy Program is geared to acclimate players who aspire to play in a competitive environment. This is achieved through a progressive curriculum and outstanding, professional coaching staff that have played and or coached at every level and possess professional coaching licenses and diplomas from the United States Soccer Federation and/or the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
How are Academy teams formed and can my child play with their friends on a team?
All players within the age group will train at the same time and practice space with an appropriate number of coaches to maintain a good player to coach ratio. On the weekend, we roster teams that will compete at varying levels against other clubs in Metro Atlanta.
How much commitment is required?
For Academy players at all clubs, a mutual one-year commitment, which lasts until the tryout period the following year, is expected. While you are playing at GSA, we ask that you give careful consideration to absences so that the effect on other players is minimized. Regular attendance at practice sessions is encouraged.
When and where are tryouts for the upcoming season?
Tryouts dates for the Academy age groups start the Tuesday before Memorial Day. We highly recommend attending all three days of tryouts. Click HERE for more details.
What happens during tryouts, what happens if my child is selected for a team?
At tryouts your child will be evaluated by the coaching staff in various group and individual skill activities. The staff will assess current skill level, desire and potential ability. This criterion is evaluated along with consideration as to how and where that individual’s ability will best fit in order to foster continued learning, improvement and further a competitively challenged environment.
For the Academy, will we have to travel all over the state or country to play games?
No. The majority of games are played in the immediate area with other local clubs in the metro Atlanta area. Most are within 30 minutes from our home facilities. Teams may participate in some local select tournaments (1-2 per season) and on occasion may require extended travel outside of the immediate area. Extended travel is a rare occurrence under the age of 12 and usually is only a top team that is looking for different competitive competition than it could get in the immediate area.
What free programs do you offer as a Gwinnett Soccer Academy member?
Each location offers free Goalkeeper Clinics to all members.
When are the training sessions for Academy teams?
Team training occurs twice weekly with 1½ hour sessions. Training sessions are planned out by our Directors before the season begins. You cannot request a specific training day or time as all players in an age group train at the same days/time.
What are costs for Academy compared to other clubs?
Cost for Academy players at Gwinnett Soccer Academy fall within the average of most other clubs in the area (Approximately $1300 - $1500 per year) with payment plans and arrangements available to accommodate budgeted households.
A separate cost is made for tournaments throughout the year. Tournament costs range from $50 -$85 per player per tournament independent of possible travel and lodging cost. Our costs, unlike many clubs in the area are all inclusive, except for tournaments.
In addition, a uniform cost of $300 - $400 can be expected. We are on a 2-year uniform cycle so uniforms purchased in Fall of 2021 will be worn through the Spring of 2023. If you enter the program mid-season or mid-year there are no discounts on uniforms.
Can my player also participate in other leagues while playing for GSA Academy?
Registration for an Georgia Soccer affiliated Academy program, such as ours, does not allow for your player to participate in other "leagues" that run Fall and Spring. This includes recreational programs. We do offer winter and summer camps as well as futsal programs and 3v3 tournaments throughout the year to keep your player's skill improving.
Can my player participate in out of state summer camps?
We promote Summer camps, clinics, etc.!! We have held an Advanced Academy camp (Classic Soccer Academy) for the past two years which runs two weeks prior to team camp, and is geared for players that need a "jump start" ahead of team camp. We also support the Nuno Piteira Soccer Experience, which holds a residential program every summer. Because there are so many opportunities for residential summer programs, we recommend you discuss your options with your coach to make sure you chose one that will provide the best experience for your player at their level.