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Stow Soccer Club Philosophy 

Stow Soccer Club Philosophy 2024


Section 1 - Guiding Principles

●      Stow Soccer Club strives to provide an opportunity for all children in our community to play soccer. If a child in our community wants to play soccer, there is a place for them in our club!

●      Player retention is critical to the continued success and growth of the club. This philosophy was written with the goal of retaining as many players as possible, in hopes of developing a large pool of players prepared to contribute to the greater soccer community at the high school level or beyond.

●      The focus of the first two years of competitive/travel soccer (U9 - U10) should be on player development and building a love of the game. All decisions made regarding these age groups (i.e., building rosters, playing time, practice plan design, bracket selection, etc.) should be made in accordance with this principle.

●      While player development and building a love of the game are still priorities in the competitive/travel program at U11 and above, in these age groups the club will also aim to provide a differentiated training and game environment to best meet the individual development needs and goals of our players.

Section 2 - Player Registration

●      Competitive/Travel Soccer

○      There will be a two-step registration process for the competitive/travel program.

○      Step 1 - Parents/guardians will complete an abbreviated “tryout” registration to indicate they are interested in their player being placed on a competitive/travel program roster.  This “tryout” registration is more defined as a “placement” evaluation, where if a registered player is not selected for the travel program, they will still be placed at some level into our recreational program. Everyone gets placed into either competitive/travel or recreational programs. Payment will not be collected during step 1.

○      Coaches and board members will meet to build team rosters in accordance with the club philosophy (see Section 3 - Roster Building).

○      Parents/guardians will receive notification of roster placement and an invitation to complete Step 2 of the registration process.

○      Step 2 - To be officially placed on a competitive/travel roster, the parent/guardian must complete the registration process by providing additional registration information and payment.

Section 3 - Roster Building - Competitive/Travel

●      Competitive/Travel player evaluation process:

○      U8/U9 players transitioning from the recreational program into the competitive/travel program will be evaluated and categorized into thirds (top third, middle third, and bottom third) by skill level.

○      Coaches evaluate current competitive/travel players on an ongoing basis during training and games. At the end of each season, the head coach(es) in each age group for each gender should compile a player evaluation report that categorizes their players into thirds (top third, middle third, bottom third). Coaches should also indicate in this report any players they have identified that would be a better fit for the recreational program.

○      Players who have not been evaluated by coaches prior to registration (i.e., recreational players who were not invited to the competitive/travel program, players who haven’t participated in the competitive/travel program in recent seasons, players who have recently moved into the area, etc.) will be invited to attend team practices at the beginning of the season to be evaluated.

●      7v7 (U9/U10) Competitive/Travel Team Rosters

○      Competitive/Travel rosters for these age groups will be built to be as equal as possible based on the evaluation process outlined above.

○      Each third (top, middle, bottom) will be divided evenly across all teams in the age group.

●      9v9 (U11-U12) and 11v11 (U13-U15) Competitive/Travel Team Rosters

○      Competitive/Travel rosters in these age groups will be divided by skill level or the level of play (i.e., “A” Team (Maroon), “B” Team (Gold), or “C” Team (Gray))

○      Players who have been evaluated by coaches through their past participation in the competitive/travel program will be placed on rosters for the upcoming season based on the evaluation process outlined above.

○      Players who are evaluated after registration by coaches during the first week(s) of practice will be placed on an appropriate roster (i.e., “A” competitive/travel team, “B” competitive/travel team, recreational team).

●      All teams of the same gender and age group will train together to promote cohesion and player retention.

Section 4 - Playing Time - Competitive/Travel

●      7v7 (U9/U10) Competitive/Travel Teams

○      League games - Our youngest soccer players should expect equal playing time throughout the season in league play. The development focus is extremely important at these ages, and players need playing time to develop. We must also keep the “funnel” full at these age groups by maximizing the number of players interested in and connected to the game (i.e., player retention!).

○      Tournament games - During tournament play the goal should be equal playing time over the course of the tournament. Tournaments should be viewed as a whole. Individual game circumstances as well as opponent results may dictate game and substitution plans. Players should leave the tournament with a sense of contribution and want to come back to play again.

●      9v9 (U11-U12) and 11v11 (U13-U15) Competitive/Travel Teams

○      League games - Our travel players in these age groups should expect fair playing time in league play. The development focus is still very important as players at these ages are changing at a fast pace. Fair playing time will be dictated by the best judgment of the coach, based on such factors as attendance at training, effort during training, willingness to learn, ability, and the needs of the team.

○      Tournament games - tournament playing time will be dictated by a number of factors, including all mentioned above.  Results of tournament games (both Stow SC and opponents), how many and timing of games within a day, effort and performance of each player throughout the tournament will also be considered. We will play tournaments with an eye on results but will also treat the tournament as a whole and ensure fair playing time for all players over the course of the tournament.

○      Every player should play in every half of every game, with each player playing 25% of the game at minimum (coaches should strive for more than 25% whenever the game situation allows).

●      Managing parent and player expectations - coaches should communicate their plans for tournaments before play begins. This will save everyone A LOT of headaches.

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