Long-Term Athletic Development in Youth Soccer

US Soccer on the Rise: In Youth we Trust

Prior to the USA Men’s soccer team winning the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, there seemed to be a clear positivity & strategy aimed towards the development of youth soccer long before. Along with recent failings at the top senior level of the game in recent years, the plan to promote and develop youth players within the Major League Soccer environment & overseas in European football seems to be paving the way for sustainable success.

youth soccer USA

More evidently, seeing the rise of Christian Pulisic – the American player who came to fame in the academy of Borussia Dortmund, before a move to Premier League giants Chelsea FC and becoming the 1st US Men’s National Team player to win the UEFA Champions League has led to a further explosion of USA graduates.

Graduates such as Sergino Dest (FC Barcelona), Nathan Sergant, Gio Reyna & Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie reside at some of the World’s biggest clubs.

A development model is quite simply a pathway of steps in sequence to guide development over a period of time.  Generally in sports, especially youth soccer, the focus is player development, and planning for training in all stages of the player’s growth. 

It can be seen as a road map developing youth soccer players over a long period of time – youth development is exactly that! Development and for development you need time, patience but above all, a strategy that doesn’t change week to week, month to month, year to year!

nutrition for footballers

Based on the development of soccer players, if your end goal is to have skilful, creative, self-critical, reflective & intelligent players in their peak years, then from the beginning of their development phase and younger age groups we must work on these key elements through their developmental stage & focus on developing the skills & tactical concepts best suited for that stage using the research surrounding maturation stages – there are no shortcuts to ball mastery, game knowledge, intelligence & overall soccer development!


Scientific research has suggested that it takes approximately eight-to-twelve years of training for a talented player or athlete to reach elite levels. This is known as the 10,000-hour rule, which equates to around slightly more than three hours of practice daily for ten years. Parents & coaches in many sports are still concerned with the shorter-term performance & place an over emphasis on immediate results.


“It takes 10 years of extensive training to excel in anything”
Herbert Simon – Nobel Laureate


The LTAD (Long-Term Athletic Development) model explained:

The LTAD model is based on the following framework. It assists in guiding the participation, training, competition & recovery pathways in sport performance & physical activity. This is used from infancy through all stages of maturation right through to adulthood.

long term athletic development

Protection for player performance LTAD

The participation of children & adolescents in various forms of strength training has been an area of both interest & controversy for many years. Researchers & coaches have all provided an expert input, & over the past few years several prestigious associations have developed key policies with a positional stand to summarise key findings.

It is regularly mentioned that “children are not mini-adults”, & based on their less-mature physical, physiological & psychological state, should be prescribed age- or maturation appropriate training programmes according to their technical ability & development.

Recent research has proposed that resistance or strength training can elicit significant performance improvements in muscular strength & endurance, transfer of power & power production, speed & agility developments. Furthermore, it has also been suggested that there are positive effects on improving psychological well-being, as well as & helping to reduce both injury severity and incidence.

Want to find out more?

The bespoke online soccer coaching courses developed by ISSPF specialists are a way of further exposing youth team coaches, kinesiology or sport science graduates, sport therapists, athletic trainers, or other key individuals working within the game & other football science or soccer coaching enthusiasts with a thirst to develop further in specialised soccer science & performance areas.

The link below will take you to the hugely popular & expertly designed ISSPF accredited Youth Soccer Athletic Development (LTAD) online sport science, kinesiology & coaching course, where you will be exposed to football or soccer science research, practical examples and developmental principles which will help you in developing youth sport athletes, whilst further providing an understanding of how these enhancements can benefit you and your role within your own unique sporting environment. 

Why is this course important?

  • Provides latest research findings, & contemporary training methods & detailed insights into youth sporting athletic development
  • Gain a better understanding how to maximise development & the long-term athletic stages across athlete’s pathway
  • Learn how to balance key training elements from a technical, tactical & physical preparation in order to attain a long-term progressive strategy
  • Help maximise your decision making when working with pre-pubescent & adolescent age groups

Who is this course for?

  • Individuals tasked with the responsibility for the training, preparation, development & coaching aspects of both individual athletes or team sport players across the youth development phases
  • Individuals with an interest in developing their knowledge in the preparation, training & development of youth age group individual athletes or team sport players


Youth Soccer Athletic Development (LTAD) Course outline & content

Module 1: Youth testing in soccer
Lecturer: Prof. Darren Paul (England) Aspetar, Qatar

Module 2: Morphological & Physiological Soccer Profiles: Talent ID & LTAD
Lecturer: Prof. Hassane Zouhal (France) FC Rennes Academy, University of Rennes

Module 3: Strength Development in Soccer: Protection for Performance LTAD
Lecturer: Hamish Munro (England) Bristol City FC

Module 4: Long – Term Athlete Development in Youth Soccer part 1
Lecturer: Tsikakis Antonios (Greece) FC Olympiakos

Module 5: Nutritional Support for the Youth Soccer Player: Maturation Status & LTAD
Lecturer: Jack Christopher (England) Chelsea FC

Module 6: Building up a model for a Soccer Academy (LTAD)
Lecturer: Alex Segovia Vilchez (Spain) Trabzonspor

Module 7: Long – Term Athlete Development in Youth Soccer part 2
Lecturer: Tsikakis Antonios (Greece) FC Olympiakos

Module 8: Training Design & Application in Youth Development (LTAD)
Lecturer: Alex Segovia Vilchez (Spain) Trabzonspor

Module 9: Velocity Based Training in an Elite Academy Soccer
Lecturer: Jack Christopher (England) Chelsea FC

Module 10: Integrating Physical & Tactical Periodisation in Soccer: Senior & Youth levels
Lecturer: Hamish Munro (England) Bristol City FC

Module 11: Youth Physical Development: A Training Proposal for Pre-Pubescent Soccer Players
Lecturer: Dr. Alejandro Romero-Caballero (Spain) La Liga

Module 12: Youth to 1st Team Link: Overcoming the Bridge
Lecturer: Dr. Tanja Ecken (Germany) Bundasliga

    nutrition for footballers


    • What are the 5 C’s of youth development?
    • What are the key youth development principles?
    • What is a youth development program?
    • How do I develop youth players?
    • How can I improve my youth development?
    • How do I train youth players?