U.S. Soccer
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US Soccer

North Carolina Captures Inaugural U.S. Soccer Spring Men's College Program Title

U.S. Soccer’s Spring Men’s College Program, which saw six participating NCAA Men’s Division I schools face one another across seven weeks, culminated in Winston Salem, N.C. with a Coaching Education Workshop and three games at Wake Forest University’s W. Dennie Spry Stadium. The pilot program, instituted as part of U.S. Soccer’s ongoing effort to develop world class players, coaches, and referees, was initiated to provide meaningful competition with international standards to the participating colleges. Providing further player development opportunities for potential U.S. Olympic and Men’s National Team players in zone three (18+), the initiative also placed a focus on coaching education, with all six head coaches completing a U.S. Soccer Coaching Education workshop.

On top of clinching the inaugural season title heading into the final weekend of games, University of North Carolina took down conference rivals Duke 1-0 behind a second half score from midfielder Jeremy Kelly. With the win, the Tar Heels went undefeated in group play, posting three shutouts and outscoring the rest of the field 13-2. Georgetown and Wake Forest also found victories on the final slate of games, outpacing Clemson 5-2 and Virginia 2-1, respectively.

“I couldn’t be happier that we had the opportunity to work with U.S. Soccer,” UNC head coach Carlos Somoano said. “The culture of college athletics combined with the support and expertise of U.S. soccer can only help to grow our beautiful game in this country. We are extremely proud to have won the league in its inaugural season. Playing under FIFA rules was fantastic, and every game was competitive as each team presented different challenges. In the future I hope U.S. Soccer and college soccer can expand on our relationship to build our sport and help our student athletes gain valuable experiences.”

Final Standings

School

GP

W

L

D

GD

GF

GA

SO Wins

Points

University of North Carolina

5

5

0

0

11

13

2

3

15

Duke University

5

2

3

0

1

6

5

0

6

Georgetown University

5

2

3

0

-2

9

11

0

6

University of Virginia

5

2

3

0

-2

8

10

0

6

Wake Forest University

5

2

3

0

-2

5

7

0

6

Clemson University

5

2

3

0

-4

10

14

0

6

Schedule and Results

Date

Home

Home Score

Away Score

Away

3/4/18

University of North Carolina

4

1

Clemson University

3/17/18

University of Virginia

1

4

Georgetown University

3/17/18

Clemson University

3

1

Wake Forest University

3/24/18

Georgetown University

0

4

University of North Carolina

3/24/18

Duke University

0

2

University of Virginia

3/29/18

Wake Forest University

2

1

Duke University

4/7/18

University of North Carolina

2

1

University of Virginia

4/7/18

Clemson University

1

2

Duke University

4/8/18

Georgetown University

0

1

Wake Forest University

4/14/18

Duke University

3

0

Georgetown University

4/14/18

Wake Forest University

0

2

University of North Carolina

4/15/18

University of Virginia

2

3

Clemson University

4/21/18

Duke University

0

1

University of North Carolina

4/21/18

Georgetown University

5

2

Clemson University

4/21/18

Wake Forest University

1

2

University of Virginia

Before the triplet of games Saturday, U.S Soccer Coaching Education Director Barry Pauwels and Instructor Wim Van Zwam led a collaborative discussion with the Head Coaches of the six participating schools, as each made final presentations to the program’s coaching education workshop. The contents of the workshop included player development plans, the youth to professional transition, player preparation and recovery best practices and the creating culture and identity within a program.

"The sharing of ideas is something that we are always hungry for as coaches,” Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese said. “For U.S. Soccer to organize this initiative, and then following it up with the coaching education workshop, it provided us with a great opportunity to talking about the game and open up and learn from each other. Barry, Wim and Tab (Ramos) really opened up to a lot of how they think about the game, and it was wonderful to forge these relationships between U.S. Soccer and the college game."

With each of the 15 games played under international standards, each game provided additional opportunities for U.S. Soccer Talent Identification to identify players and expand the Youth National Team player pools. On hand during the coaching education workshop and Saturday’s trio of games was U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos, who reflected on the positive impact of the program and the strengthened connection between U.S. Soccer and the college game.

“This program was a major step in helping the college game become an even more important part of our player development pathway,” Ramos said. “The games were highly competitive, and we were able to identify some young players who were not on our Youth National Team radar after the fall season. We would like to thank these leading college programs who have been willing to think outside the box with us as we look to make the program even stronger next spring.”

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ACADEMY Apr 27, 2018
US Soccer

First Ever Biologically Banded Games Bring Awareness to Player Development Initiative

For the first time in organized youth sports in the United States, eight U.S. Soccer Development Academy clubs fielding teams of players grouped by similar biological maturity, instead of chronological age, took the fields at Round Rock Multipurpose Complex in U.S. Soccer’s Bio-Banding Initiative kickoff event. The initiative, part of U.S. Soccer’s ongoing effort to develop world class players, coaches, and referees, was spearheaded by the federation’s High Performance department.

From April 21-22, the participating Development Academy clubs fielding both boys and girls bio-banded teams (Lonestar SC Academy, Solar Soccer Club, Dallas Texans and Houston Dash Youth Girls / Houston Dynamo Youth Boys) competed in two 80-minute games against normally familiar division rivals at their chronological age teams.

“This event was something that intrigued us as a club,” Lonestar SC Academy Director Victor Pace said. “We found it very interesting and very supportive. For us, on both ends of the scale, it was important that we looked at this to see how it could benefit us as a club. Especially in our younger ages, we've got a lot of late developers. The physical challenges our players face in our conference, which is very strong, are insurmountable in some games just because of the physical nature. So, this environment provided them with another opportunity or another avenue to see what they can do.”

With rosters of 16-18 players, each team was bio-banded by a five percent maturity range. For the four boys’ sides, that band was 91-96%, while the band on the girls’ side was 95-99%. Any player in the club’s pool of Academy players between U-13 (birth year 2005) to U-16 (birth year 2002), who’s current percentage to final maturity was between the five percent band, was eligible for roster selection. Of the 135 players falling in the bands and selected by their club to participate, 24 (18%) came from U-13 teams, 55 (41%) from U-14, 54 (40%) from U-15 and 2 (1%) from U-16.

Bio Banding

To understand more about how percentage to physical maturity is calculated, watch the bio-banding animation video below.

The purpose and science behind bio-banding is to create a new, challenging environment for players that eliminates physical dominance and sees that players rely more on technical and tactical abilities. In allowing players to experience a bio-banded environment, the player development tool can help not only late maturing players, but also early maturers reach their highest potential as soccer players.

“Bio-banding benefits both the early and late maturing players,” U.S. Soccer High Performance Director James Bunce said. “The early maturer is the one that often gets overlooked as a beneficiary of the bio-banding concept. Early matures are the ones that are often dominating their age groups and while that might be perceived as really exciting and successful at the younger age groups, it's kind of like a false dawn and potentially a step back in their optimal development. When they get older and everyone’s maturity and physicality levels out, they can often drop out of the system because they’ve been over relying on their physical attributes as a youth player.

“Late maturers are more often the ones that drop out of the game, which is obviously really sad as there's a potential that we could be missing out on a world class player. We want to optimize everyone's participation in this amazing game and bio-banding allows late maturers to not be suppressed by the dominance of the physical players in their normal age groups. And then, once they do reach full maturity, those physical attributes will come with them and they will also have those technical and tactical skills that they likely relied on more heavily when they were younger.”

Throughout the weekend, Bunce, the high performance team, and other U.S. Soccer staff members on hand spoke with numerous parents and spectators. While a common stigma in the game is that playing up can be seen as a reward and playing down can have a negative connotation, parents in attendance learned more about and embraced the benefits of the initiative.

“I thought the teams were very well balanced,” Houston Dash Youth parent Rudy Hollenbach said. “Every player seemed to be at about the same level, physically, and that allowed the games to develop very evenly… We see it a lot (in the normal age groups), where a long ball is played forward and then the physically stronger girls can run by the defender and it becomes sort of this kick-and-rush game. Here, we didn't see any of that. It was very well balanced. The game was usually played out of the back… Girls that normally sometimes struggle a little bit, got more into the games. They really had a good opportunity to play well and play as part of the team. I think overall the team effort was much better because everyone got involved.”

Hollenbach was also quick to point out how important he feels bio-banding is to player development and the importance of spreading the education of the science.

“It's about looking at each individual player. And it's not necessarily all about winning. It's important, I completely understand, but I think the development aspect is more important. It's not based on whoever was the best when he or she was 13 or 14, but it's about getting to that 17-18 range, where all players are able to really blossom… I think it's a much more gradual development approach and that's really the key aspect. I think for a lot of parents it can be tough to understand. I'm hoping to help the process by educating people and helping explain why bio-banding is a good idea.”

Also in attendance were three of the world's top experts in child development and growth maturation, with over 2000 combined published scientific journal articles. Professor Robert Malina, Dr. Sean Cumming and Professor Alan Rogol each made their way to Round Rock, Texas, to help educate and answer questions from parents, coaches and players.

“For U.S. Soccer to put on this event and begin this initiative, I think it's a terrific idea,” Rogol said. “This is not something that is done once and that’s it. It's a work in progress. This is not going to change the game overnight, but it’s going to enhance it by getting more kids involved. The initiative will help teach later maturing kids skills that they will be able to take into later years of playing of sports, but not at the price of being run over when they're 12 or 13 or 14. And for early maturers, those physical advantages right now may not persist when they reach 16, 17, 18, and that's a very important message to teach. I can't see a downside of it!”

Amongst the U.S. Soccer technical staff in attendance for the weekend was Development Academy Director Jared Micklos and Development Academy Technical Directors Aloys Wijnker and Miriam Hickey. One connection between bio-banding and the Boys’ Development Academy is how the Academy already institutes a policy for late maturing players.

“For the 2017-18 season, the Development Academy leadership and technical group decided that we would institute a policy for late maturing players were clubs can select two players at U-16 and U-15 that can play down one age group,” U.S. Soccer Development Academy Director Jared Micklos said. “The Academy philosophy is about moving players up when they're ready, but we also thought that moving players down might be an opportunity for those players who aren't as physically matured to be able to have success at a younger age group. It's a club wide policy, so it's not team-based. After a player comes down, if they're having success, they can go back up and play with their natural, chronological age.”

“By no means does bio-banding replace the chronological age system. It is a useful, additional tool for coaches and staff to help create individual development plans as we, as a country, continue to strive to develop word-class players. Every player has a unique player pathway and we believe the education around the differences of physical maturity will go a long way in providing individually based environments for each player to thrive and develop.”

As U.S. Soccer continues to educate coaches, players, parents and fans on what bio-banding is and how the initiative can help provide meaningful opportunities for player development, educating clubs leaders that are at the forefront of player development marks the starting point for how the initiative will continue to flourish. By providing the tools and education to clubs who want to implement bio-banding into their everyday environments, the initiative will continue to grow and thrive across the landscape.

“In the end, everyone is coming together to create a pathway for every player,” Development Academy Boys’ Technical Directors Aloys Wijnker said. “There is not one pathway and everyone is doing the same thing. Soccer is a game. You're playing on a team. On the other hand, it's also a sport for individual players. Everyone has an individual development pathway and this is one tool that can help to create that pathway and give every player a better chance to become the best player they can be once they reach their final physical development.”
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ACADEMY Apr 26, 2018
US Soccer

U.S. Soccer Introduces Bio Banding Initiative

CHICAGO (April 5, 2018) – As part of its ongoing effort to develop world class players, coaches, and referees, the U.S. Soccer High Performance Department will work in conjunction with four Development Academy clubs to put on the first bio-banded event in any sport in the United States. It will also be the first organized event of its kind featuring female soccer athletes.

Bio-banding allows players to be grouped based on their maturity and biological age and not by their chronological age. By doing this, massive swings in maturity that can be seen within the current chronological groupings are removed. By grouping players based on maturity, the physical advantages that early maturing players have when playing against less mature players are reduced.

Hosted on April 21-22 by Lonestar SC Academy at the Round Rock Multipurpose Complex in Austin, Texas, eight teams formed by biological age, not chronological age, will compete in two 80-minute games that will follow Development Academy standards.

Lonestar SC Academy will be joined by boys’ and girls’ clubs Dallas Texans and Solar Soccer Club, as well as Houston Dash Youth Girls and Houston Dynamo Youth Boys. Participating clubs will form two bio-banded teams, each grouped by similar maturity status made up of players within their U-14, U-15 and U-16/17 rosters.

The bio-banding initiative will be used to help support the research and understanding of the science to further aid all Development Academy clubs.

“It is well documented that all players will grow and develop at different rates and times within youth soccer,” U.S. Soccer High Performance Director James Bunce said. “Despite having this knowledge, there has never been a solution to help better support the individual development needs of both early and late developing players. Finally, with bio-banding, there is a scientifically accurate, applicable and assessable way to support all clubs, coaches and players to have the optimal environment to thrive and develop irrespective of maturity level.

“We are thrilled to host this exciting player development initiative,” Lonestar SC Academy Boys Development Academy Director Victor Pace said. “We can't wait to see the outcomes of the data collected by James and the U.S. Soccer High Performance staff and how our teams will look and perform. We hope this event will lead to more opportunities for late maturing players to continue to improve at their own rate as opposed to struggling in an environment that might not be conducive to long-term player development.”

As an additional player development tool, bio-banding will allow participating Academy club coaches and staff, and U.S. Soccer Talent Identification to evaluate players in an environment where physical advantages are less of a factor. After the event, the U.S. Soccer High Performance department will continue to work with all Development Academy clubs looking to expand their player development tools with Bio-Banding.

As a landmark event in all of American youth sports, the Bio-Banding Initiative marks another stride in U.S. Soccer player development. In recent years, U.S. Soccer has created a Futures Camp, which invites late maturing and players born in the second half of the calendar year to a compete in a Youth National Team camp. In the Development Academy, clubs have the ability to nominate late maturing players who are able to play with an age group below their chronological designation so that they are able to thrive and not struggle with physicality.


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ACADEMY Apr 5, 2018
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