Long Term Player Development represents a philosophy that is more focused on ensuring players stay in the game for life and enjoy the experience. The Long Term Player Development approach represents a paradigm shift in the way Canadians lead and deliver soccer and physical activity in Canada. The Long Term Player Development platform is committed to creating a soccer culture that is about getting the best out of our youth players.

Here are some of the ways outlined by Canada Soccer:

  • Increase the number of certified coaches.

  • More practices than games. i.e. 2 practices to 1 game.

  • Focus on small-sided games. (more time on the ball for each player).

  • Less emphasis on winning, more focus on practice, creativity and skill development .

  • Foster a healthy, competitive environment.

  • Make it fun. (creative, fun and inspiring practices and games).

LTPD provides a framework for the success of the beautiful game in Canada. For more details on the national model of Long-Term Athlete (player) Development, visit the Canadian Sport for Life website.

long term player development

Active Start Ages 3-4 years

At this introductory level, the objective is to get players moving and to keep them active as per the Long Term Player Development Model (LTPD). The objective of this program is to provide our young players and their parents with a “pressure free” introduction to the beautiful game. At this age, players should be exposed to soccer by playing simple, fun activities and games.

The program is designed to provide young players with a combination of technical instruction and small-sided games (age appropriate) in a fun environment. The focus is on the development of player’s agility & co-ordination, motor skills and team participation.


FUNdamental Ages 5-8 years

The FUNdamental Program is the second stage of soccer development that our players go through. However, we have to recognize that in this stage there are players who are participating in the sport for the first time.

In line with the Long Term Player development model, the most important focus at this age is the continued development of physical literacy, and the recognition that individual technique development is paramount. Coaches at this stage create a learning environment that is stimulating and engaging and players learn in a fun-filled small-sided game environment.

The programs now start to move into a team format where teams will begin to play against other teams within their own organization. This program focuses on teaching the fundamental aspects of sporting participation, encouraging each of our young players to master the basic techniques of soccer alongside the development of physical and movement literacy. In introducing children to the basic technical dimensions of the game, our program is designed to allow participants to explore with the ball, to engage with the core skills of dribbling, passing, and shooting in a competition free environment.

The goal of the FUNdamental stage is to provide a rewarding, enjoyable soccer-playing experience for all players, regardless of their skill level. Player development sessions are applied in all our grass roots programs and focus on building each player’s confidence with the ball, under the supervision of technical coaches. The use of the GAG Model – Game Activity Game – allows for a balance of coaching a specific topic within a game, developing that topic in the activity and allowing the players to implement that in the game for themselves without coaches constantly talking. The second game is vital to allow players to make mistakes or do something great and so learn for themselves. Coaches will be there to encourage for this game and ensure player rotation.


Learn to Train Ages 8-11 years

The U9 – U12 age group is the third stage of soccer development that our players go through, commonly known as “the golden age of learning”.

The effect of the role-model is very important at this stage. Children begin to identify with famous players and successful teams, and they want to learn imaginative skills. Skill demonstration is very important, and the players learn best by “doing”.

At this stage, our Learn To Train programs strives to guide the technical development of young players as they acquire a greater level of understanding of soccer and familiarity with the ball. In nurturing the child’s initial engagement with the game, our coaches deliver a program which emphasizes consistent player attachment to the ball, incorporating a high level of technique refinement as opposed to tactical or team play. The inclusion of structured small-sided games (4v4 up to 7v7) allows our young players to begin the process of transferring skills into game scenarios.

Players move from self-centered to self-critical, and they have a high stimulation level during basic skill training. This is also an important time to teach basic principles of play and to establish a training ethic and discipline, as outlined in the Long Term Player Development model.


download-pdfFor more information on our approach to player development, download the RYFC Technical Plan pdf.

Soccer for Life Ages 13-18 years

Many youth players pursue the dream of representing Canada; others play for simple enjoyment of the game, the camaraderie of being on a team, and the health benefits that the sport provides. The Long Term Player development seeks to provide opportunities for youth players to continue in the game, even if they do not pursue high-performance play.

With the emphasis on playing, this stage focuses on skill training demands, training loads can also be increased to develop and refine skills and tactics. Tactical awareness becomes an increasingly important facet of training, alongside mental toughness, concentration, and diligence. Elite soccer groups may express interest in recruiting talented young players, but coaches and parents should be careful to recognize and protect the long-term interests of each athlete. Game formats develop from 8v8 to 11v11 as players grow through this stage, and the season moves toward year-round play that includes appropriate rest and recovery periods.