The Rapids Youth Soccer Curriculum
Posted by: Rebecca Martineau | Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Director of Marketing and Communications
A cornerstone of Rapids Youth Soccer’s commitment to providing a model of quality youth development, education, and inspiration is the professional soccer curriculum offered through our partnership with the Colorado Rapids professional team. We value quality, consistency, and excellence throughout our soccer curriculum. As a result, our programming provides a superior experience from the time they enter the club to the time they graduate. Our coaching methods are designed with an emphasis on long-term player development, using the Whole-Part-Whole (WPW) philosophy. We combine these methods with The Rapids Way, creating a culture of support for our players… from 3 to 18 years old.
Long-Term Player Development
At the Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club, we want to help your player maximize his or her ability by focusing on long-term player development.
Long-term player development means prioritizing a player’s lifetime soccer experience over short-term accomplishments or challenges. Most clubs take a team-centered approach to development wherein the success of the team supplants the needs of the individual. However, our player-centered approach allows for the Club to cater to the needs of each player as he or she grows in the game.
We focus on delivering the main components of the game (technical, tactical, physical and psycho-social) in a method that is appropriate to the age, ability, and interest of each player. We present these components to players through a soccer curriculum that targets specific development objectives over the course of a year. Overall, these objectives will help advance players for the next phase of the development process.
A critical piece of the player development process is feedback. Each player will have the opportunity to meet with their coach twice per year to review a personal evaluation of their growth and development. This helps the player to understand how to proceed best along their development pathway.
Development does not happen in a straight line; it is a cyclical process of education, application, and evaluation.
The Whole-Part-Whole Philosophy
The WPW philosophy is a learning model used by the Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club to achieve our long-term player development initiative. The WPW philosophy was first outlined by Malcolm Knowles in 1973 and is used in many learning situations, both practical and theory based. When added to a well-planned and well-thought out pedagogy, the WPW philosophy puts players in realistic situations, which should always include decision-making elements.
When coaching soccer, WPW can be used in a variety of ways to break down techniques, skills, or tactics. Most commonly the players are taken from practice with high game context to a low one, before returning to the original practice. When possible, it is best to practice the game, or elements of the game, in their entirety. An example of this could occur in a topic such as ‘Defending in the Direct Game Channel’. What do you do if the individuals or units in your squad don’t understand how to defend 1v1 or 2v2? You break it down.
‘Whole’ doesn’t necessarily mean a game. Actually, in this theory, a ‘whole’ practice could be a series of complex skills that can be broken down into more discrete skills. The ‘whole’ element should be as realistic to the game as possible. The coach looks to pull actions or components of the game and break them down into chunks so the players can understand and digest the information. The coach will then pull those elements back together into the game situation.
The Rapids Way
In addition to our technical soccer curriculum and teaching philosophy, we aim to represent The Rapids Way in all our programming. The Rapids Way is much more than just what we do and how we do it. It encompasses who we are as a Club, from how we handle our administrative details to how coaches instruct players in training to how our players and families conduct themselves on and off the field. The Club’s mission and vision shape a philosophy, methodology, and culture that provide a framework for us to work in these key areas.
The Rapids Way is defined by the experience each player has from the time they enter the Club to the time they graduate. From a technical perspective, we focus on establishing an individual foundation before teaching group actions and tactics. This includes the WPW philosophy and long-term development planning. The technical, tactical, physical, and psycho-social pieces of our soccer curriculum come together in the form of a distinct style of play, consistent from our most inexperienced levels to our elite levels in the Club.
The culture we create provides a system of support for all of our young players. We take pride in the professionalism exhibited by our coaching staff, from the way they teach to their demeanor and appearance at sessions and games. Our parents are well informed and respectful on the sidelines, during both games and practices, which in turn creates a fun, safe and enjoyable atmosphere for our players to develop. This is captured in our free-flowing and positive thinking style of play.
We have a saying in the Club, “Prepare your child for the path, not the path for your child.” This is The Rapids Way.