What exactly is a USSDA Soccer Academy?

You cannot blame the parents for being frustrated when trying to decide what Soccer Club/Academy is right for their child. For most of them, their child started playing soccer at their local town club with their classmates on Saturday mornings in the fall. An hour or two of soccer fun and then off to a teammates house for a “play date”.  It was simple and uncomplicated for everyone involved.

Fast forward a few years and the world of soccer open’s up to an expansive list of opportunities. Some parents hear “Your child is amazing, you really should focus on soccer all year round” or “Your child just needs some extra training and he/she will be so much better” or “Your child is the best player in their age group in town, you really should take he/she to an academy”. 

I could spend all day writing about the year round player or the extra training but I am going to touch on the Academy landscape as this area is becoming more and more confusing every day. If you search soccer academy on the internet, pages and pages of academy names will show up from Elite, Next Level, Premier and the list goes one. I even saw one called Joe’s soccer academy.

Who are the true US Soccer Development Academies and what makes them different from all of these other academies?

US soccer created the Development Academy in 2007 to provide education, resources and support to impact every club's environment to help develop world-class players. The academy philosophy is based on increased training, less total games, and more competitive games.   

Development academies must be accepted by US soccer and they have strict requirements for acceptance and strict requirements to maintain Academy status. This not only includes facilities but strict coaching requirements as well.

Clubs or organizations who call themselves academies are not monitored by US soccer and  don’t need to meet any of these requirements to call themselves an academy.

If you are looking for a US Soccer Development Academy make sure they have the official seal. Otherwise they are just another soccer organization who may or may not be right for your child.

(Tyler Isaacson He has 30 years of playing and coaching experience. He is the founder of Youthsoccer101.com a leader in on-line coaching tools used by 100K+coaches across the country. You can email him at tyler@youthsoccer101.com)