West Michigan Youth Soccer Association

The WMYSA Academy was designed to enhance development of U8/U7 age players within each club. It is intended for those young players who are interested in advanced training and getting a better introductory understanding of the travel soccer experience. 
This style of training and play is strongly encouraged by the USSF and US Youth Soccer as being the best for player development. Academy programs allow young players to grow into the game in a fun manner with the freedom to experience and develop at an age appropriate pace.  This contrasts with the traditional team format where more importance is placed on game score.  Academy programs allow clubs to create an innovative learning environment which also includes multi-club interaction.

At this age, it’s not about wins and losses, it’s about player development.  According to The US Soccer Coaching Education Department, at this age, the most fundamental skill is individual mastery of the ball and the creativity which comes with it. 

The academy program works hand and hand with recreational soccer programs. It offers those players the extra training they may desire without interfering in the recreation program.  This provides an environment to truly advance in skill level by providing more touches on the ball in a low pressure environment so they have time needed to try new things and develop ball mastery skills.
For most players, this is the best environment for them to grow.  Other clubs may offer league play rather than an academy program.  However you need to remember; the greater the level of competition, the less time the player has to develop that creativity.   The greater the level of competition, the more pressure parents put on their children. The greater the level of competition, a coach’s focus shifts to winning, not the develop players. 
Think of it this way.  Some players are more athletic at younger ages than others.  When those players are moved up to early, they are forced to rely on their athletic ability to survive; not their soccer skills.  That skill development is hindered due to the pace of the game.  At age 13 they still posses that athletic ability, but struggle to compete with those who have caught up to them athletically, yet had time to develop their technical skills.
Some leagues offer a U8 division for competitive play rather than an academy environment;  WMYSA doesn’t.  That’s because we have strong recreational programs (AYSO) other areas may not have.  We provide the development which U8 Travel soccer leagues simply don’t. 

Academy Rules/Regulations
U8 age appropriate players can be registered on U9 team or the Academy but not both. The U8 players in the Academy may Player Pass play on U9 or U10 Divisions.

  1. U7 age appropriate players can only participate in the Academy. No “play-up” requests will be allowed and no player pass is allowed.
  2. No U6 players allowed in academy.
  3. Clubs will provide at minimum a colored tee-shirt or scrimmage pennies (no requirement for full uniforms in academy play and numbers are not required on uniform)
  4. Girls and boys would practice/train together there is no separate academy for boys and girls.
  5. All clubs should supply the Academy Director with a copy of the WMYSA Official Roster with the names of participants prior to the start of each Jamboree  Any player not on the list should be written at the bottom of the sheet.  Any players not participating in the jamboree should be crossed off.
  6. Jamborees will be on Sunday only. (This will allow academy members to continue to participate in local recreational soccer leagues if they desire or to player pass on a match on Saturday)
  7. Start time for the Jamboree is 2:30 pm for each of the 4 Sunday dates. 
  8. Playing Format 4v4 without keepers.
  9. Minimum Academy Size: 6 players (needed to be invited to Jamboree)
  10. Maximum Academy Size: No limit to number of players
  11. Practice Limitations: No more than two per week
  12. Club academy coach must be experienced
  13. No league standings/statistics kept/published. 

Jamboree Format
 All academy teams play round-robin on small sized fields

  1. Number of games (play 2 or 3 20-minute games with 5-10 min break to switch fields/teams)
  2. Restart for ball out of bounds - Throw-In
  3. No keepers. Size 3 ball.
  4. Fouls - USYSA Small Sided Games guidance available - all kicks are direct free kicks
  5. Restarts - USYSA Small Sided Games guidance available - normal policy per USYSA
  6. Substitutions - USYSA Small Sided Games guidance available - Unlimited at any stoppage.
  7. Field size will be determined. It will be approximately 30 x 25 yards. We need to get 4 fields per one full sized field. We will use small size goals.