With team announcements approaching and the new directive from the Club to move to dual/mixed age groups there have been some questions, concerns and misinformation that the Club would like to address.
The goal of moving to dual/mixed age groups is to help players develop, gain confidence and provide a playing environment that is best suited for the player. We understand that the club has a vast range in types of players. Some players will move on and play High School and even College level, while others may not touch a soccer ball once they finish the Strikers Program. The Club does everything it can to place every player that tried out onto a team. In the past that meant players were asked to play up an age group that was above his or her skill level. This leads to issues with those players being overwhelmed, losing confidence and not enjoying the game or time on the field. Over time these issues cascaded and those players lost interest in the game and did not return to the program. As players lost interest the current teams struggle to field a team as the players get older, particularly in the U13/14 age group where it becomes 11 v 11. This has been a reoccurring issue over many years, to overcome these issues the Club has implemented the dual/mixed age groups using the highlights listed below.
1. Highest Skilled/Experienced Players - The combination of ages will allow (at least every other year) for kids who are at the highest level of experience/skill to benefit from the additional challenge of playing with/against "like" skilled players one age division higher. Being able to create an even skilled team with a combination different aged players will benefit game play, practice planning and team/player development across the board.
2. Mid-Level Skilled/Experienced Players - In their current age group or one higher, these players will be able to play with "like" skilled players which will greatly improve the ability for the "team" to act as a "team". Easier to manage player substitutions and in most cases allow players to play in a division more appropriate for their skill/experience level.
3. Lower Skilled/Experienced Players - The advantages for this group mirror many of those for the second group, however these advantages are even more pronounced. Depending on the age group and team numbers, many of these players have been playing on D1 teams and in some cases (historically) may have even been placed on an upper age division D1 teams putting them in a very counterproductive scenario for their development. The even age groups will allow them in most cases to play on a more appropriate team/division which will greatly benefit practice and game play/playtime for the team as a whole.
While the conversation tends to be very focused on the "skill" development of the players, we want to reiterate how important the proper placement of the players is on their confidence and ultimate comfort level of a player on a team as well. In addition to this, the ability to allow players more equal playing time as they work their way up in age groups is another key to developing their skills and confidence on the field. This focus on proper placement, ultimately results in a team that is much more consistent from a playtime, practice planning and game play perspective.
The players’ time in the Striker Program is not the only focus of the Club. The Club is preparing the players for their future on and off the field. As they move into Middle School and High School the players will be on mixed age teams that can be up to 4 years older. By already being introduced to having the opportunity of playing with older teammates and opponents.
Everything stated above revolves around the soccer aspect of the club and its teams. We are fully aware that there is another aspect to the club and that is the social part of the club, and players like to play on teams with their friends. Moving to the dual/mixed age groups will also benefit the players socially. With each year as players move around as teams change the player is given the opportunity to form new friendships. These friendships will be helpful when moving into Middle School and even High School. As a player moves into the High School each player has an advantage already as they know peers from both towns and likelihood to increase their social life in and out of school.
Concussions are a serious health concern in youth sports. The DRSC is committed to the physical and emotional safety of our players. In order to focus on this commitment we are educating our coaches, parents and Board Members in the dangers of concussion-related injuries.
The DRSC will provide our members with tools and recourses to educate them on the extreme dangers of concussions; how to prepare for and protect against concussions; the causes and recognizing the symptoms of a concussive injury.
All coaches in the DRSC will be required to have completed a Concussion Certification. The recommended course is provided free from the CDC and may be accessed by the following link. CDC Heads Up Concussion Training
It is also recommended that parents take this free online course so they know and understand the severity, the symptoms, and recovery information of concussion-related injuries.