Crossing State Lines For Youth Soccer Player Development
Austin Lloyd, NJ Youth Soccer
The 2022 New Jersey ODP spring season has officially kicked off, with teams recently traveling to Maryland and Virginia for a group of friendly matches that took place over the course of two weekends.
The games provided an opportunity for players and coaches to build upon their experiences together from the fall, and they also served as a precursor for additional matches and training sessions this spring.
“The Maryland and Virginia tournaments provided our teams with the opportunity to play five games within two weeks,” said James Galanis, NJYS Technical Director. “Our coaches were able to work on team objectives, and players were able to showcase their talent. We have now participated in four tournaments and are moving into the spring phase of ODP having played nine games in total. We have been able to assess our players and gain insight on their strengths.”
During the Maryland event, teams of all age groups (12U to 17U) competed in a tournament against sides from Eastern Pennsylvania and the host state.
A key focus for the players was the implementation of the Team Tactical Principles (TTP) and player actions during the transition from attacking to defending within each third of the field. Teams performed strong defensively throughout the weekend due in large part to the teachings of the TTP.
The second tournament of the spring season took place the following weekend in Virginia, where New Jersey ODP teams faced representatives from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Virginia Friendlies were another opportunity for teams to grow as a unit and evolve from their experiences at the Maryland Friendlies, all while facing some of the best competition in the country.
After New Jersey teams focused on developing their understanding of the transition from attacking to defending in Maryland, the Virginia Friendlies saw the players implement strategies for more success in the transition from defending to attacking. Players looked to pass and dribble forward, create passing lanes and keep the ball when they could not play forward, and they also focused on constantly putting their opponents under pressure.
The goal of these events is to help players come together in a competitive environment without facing pressure to win. This allows the ODP coaching staff to learn more about the players and helps them tailor the spring training sessions to better meet the developmental needs of the players and age groups directly. For older players, the Maryland and Virginia Friendlies were also a great opportunity to showcase their abilities in front of college coaches across the region.
“These tournaments are so beneficial for players who are looking to move onto US Youth Soccer, Regional and National Events.”James Galanis, NJYS Technical Director
Training for New Jersey ODP will next resume in early April. Teams will continue to focus on the Team Tactical Principles and build upon their performances in Maryland and Virginia in preparation for the upcoming Eastern New York ODP Tournament, Memorial Day Tournament and the ODP East Region Tournament.