Winning is the result of effective long term player development.
But the "long term" in LTPD can be a tough sell to soccer clubs, parents and players. In a culture of instant gratification, it's not always popular to favor sound fundamental training over trophies.
A focus on the long term requires buy-in at every level from the club. LTPD cannot be a slogan. It needs to be preached and practiced every day of the soccer calendar.
Long term goals vary among clubs, so a well-constructed LTPD plan should be customized. One club might set its sights on developing the players that will win a State Championship at the U16 level. Another club might set a goal of providing their local High School with 50% of their U14+ players come the fall season. And for some clubs, LTPD is simply the best way to retain players.
The soccer communities of Lyme-Old Lyme Soccer Club, CT and Shelton Youth Soccer Organization, CT partnered with YESsoccer 5 years ago and allowed us to collaborate with them to lay out tailored long term player development pathways. Although the pathways were different, the goals were the same: to develop players that would create winning high school programs.
Old Lyme & Shelton believe that if they teach sound fundamentals to their players and build upon their level of understanding year after year, they will send advanced, highly-skilled players to their high schools that will allow coaches to concentrate on their systems of play rather than teaching soccer basics.
Both clubs focus on development over winning at the early ages to ensure players are learning the game within a supportive, creative environment where performing a step over in a game situation is more important than winning a game 7-0.
Old Lyme and Shelton were both rewarded this season for their commitment to LTPD. The boys and girls teams of both Shelton & Old Lyme High School won their respective conferences. This was the pinnacle of years of hard work on the youth soccer fields and every single player, parent, coach and official should be both proud of this phenomenal achievement and excited for what the future holds.
The boys and girls teams of Old Lyme and Shelton now move on to play in the State Championships with significant momentum from their conference wins. Everyone at YESsoccer, especially our coaches who have served both programs, send their warmest congratulations and best wishes for these communities, their soccer parents, and their players. We are proud to serve them over the long term.