The Academy is a state-initiated program which serves as an alternative to recreational soccer for players in the
U9 and U10 age groups. Under guidelines established by the Iowa Soccer Association and participating clubs, the
Johnston/Urbandale Soccer Club organizes teams which are a part of this program during the fall and spring soccer
Compared to recreational soccer, players involved in the JSC/USC Academy have more direct contact with the
club’s professional coaching staff. Most important, all training sessions the players take part in during the season
are devised and directed by the club staff. Players become part of a process which focuses on their long-term
development and success within the sport. This takes into account training methodology, areas of focus, and
JSC/USC Academy Player Development: Building a Foundation
We need to develop our players just as we build a home: From the ground-up. The JSC/USC Academy Program will
give U9 and U10 players a solid foundation through the emphasis of simple technical points and decision-making.
The purpose of our developmental model will be to give players the tools to build a repertoire of skills and ideas
to play the game effectively and creatively in their teen-age years. By building this foundation we hope to give
players more confidence and success implementing the complex skills and team-play which are emphasized within
the JUSC Select U11-U14 training program.
Academy or Recreational: Making the Decision
To assist parents in choosing which program (Academy or Recreational) is a better fit for their child at this point,
the Iowa Soccer Association has listed consistent characteristics of children for which the Academy Program was
intended. These can be viewed at the following link: http://www.iowasoccer.org/u09_u10_academy/
A few items which clarify the characteristics as it relates to the JSC/USC Academy Program:
1. “Demonstrates sound technical skills”
- Players choosing Academy should show some ability in the areas of dribbling, controlling, and striking the ball;
however, these skills do not need to be overly developed or refined upon entering the program. The purpose of
our program is to develop these areas consistently during our training sessions and games.
2. “During games is aggressive in their attitude and approach to getting involved…”
- In the Academy our expectation is that players are looking to get involved in the game. We impress upon the
players to move as a group and not get locked into very strict and limited positioning (For instance players in the
back need to be involved in the attack on the other team's half at times). Therefore, the Academy Program would
not be suggested for players, who at this time, frequently stand around and only become active when the ball
moves into their immediate area.
3. “Demonstrates high level of focus and concentration during practices and games”
- One of the most important attributes for players entering the Academy Program is being attentive to instruction.
We want players to gain more enjoyment out of the game by becoming more skillful and confident with the
ball. This is often achieved by players who exhibit a willingness to take suggestions and who come to training
sessions looking to improve. We are NOT expecting players of this age to act like little adults, but children who
are consistently disruptive within the group or do not exhibit the maturity to respond to individual instruction are
probably not ready for Academy at this time.
4. “Started to narrow down the number of extra-curricular activities”
- Many players in the Academy program are involved in other sports or school activities. We pride ourselves in the
flexible structure we have created and feel it benefits our players in the long-term. In fact, the Academy Program
can allow for more flexibility than Recreational soccer in certain instances. An example of this is an Academy
player having a game conflict on a particular weekend can often find a game with another Academy team that
weekend (Rosters are not as restricted in the Academy).
5. “Player who will try-out for the U11 Select Program in the future”
- Being involved in the Academy is not a pre-requisite for participation in the Select Program (A number of current
JUSC U11 Select players took part in Recreational Soccer at U9 and U10). Still, the skills/concepts focused on at
U11are a continuation of the foundation we build during the U9 and U10 Academy seasons. Over the past few
seasons a number of U11 Select families, who did not participate in Academy at U9 or U10, have commented that
while noticeable improvement took place during the U11 season, they felt this development would have been
even greater had their son/daughter took part in the Academy Program. Many coaches define the U9-U12 years
as the "Golden Age of Learning". If you feel your child has interest in the Select Program at some point in the
future, it is strongly advised to consider the Academy option. The building blocks which can be established at nine
and ten years old go a long way in the player maximizing his/her potential during their teenage years.
A couple additional points:
PLAYING EXPERIENCE-The Academy Program is not recommended for players who have no prior experience in
organized soccer. Players registering for Academy should have participated in recreational soccer for at least a
season or two.
U8s PARTICIPATING- Players who are in the U8 age group can enroll a year early in the U9-U10 Academy Program.
This option should only be considered by strong U8 players who tend to dominate play within their own age group.
In addition, U8 players looking to register for Academy will need to have prior approval from the JSC/USC Academy
Questions about the program can be directed to:
JSC/USC Academy Director