American Football Member Organizations Adopt IDPs to Support Youth Development


In August 2015, US Soccer made a historic announcement that it would unify the national youth soccer landscape through the American Soccer Player Development (PDI) initiatives. The initiatives, which align with US Soccer’s mission to become the premier sport in the United States and to advance the sport at all recreational and competitive levels, officially went into effect August 1, 2017.

Within IDPs, birth year registration and reduced standards will pave the way for standardization of best practices on and off the field. Record year of birth now shifts from designating a player’s age group based on the academic calendar (August-July) to the player’s year of birth (January-December), aligning states united with the rest of the world. The mandate will not only bring U.S. registration in line with the international standard, but also provide clearer information on players’ dates of birth to combat the “relative age effect.” The relative age effect refers to the selection bias related to players who are more physically mature than their peers due to being born earlier in the year.

Small scale play standards, which aim to create a better environment for the individual player, will ensure that each player progresses through more appropriately sized field dimensions and number of players on the field until he reaches the U-13 age group, when it starts. to play in the open field, 11v11 matches. By creating a more age-appropriate environment, players will have a better opportunity to develop increased football intelligence and skills on the ball.

Small Scale Games Chart - 2017 American Football Player Development Initiatives

More than 30 standards under the IDPs were officially rolled out on August 1, including youth standards, number of referees, offside calls, training-to-match ratio, number of licensed coaches and the size of the list. Since the announcement in August 2015, 85% of youth football member organizations have adopted and implemented IDPs earlier as a best practice. During the two-year implementation window, member organizations have seen the positive benefits of IDPs.

“Since its inception in 1974, US Youth Soccer has been an advocate for player development. Indeed, the Association has formally supported small games since the 1980s. American football player development initiatives are welcome because we know that they will enrich the football experience of young people.

– Sam Snow, Director of Coaching, US Youth Soccer

“The IDPs are a positive start in finding and understanding the best way to develop players in the country. One of the most positive results I have seen so far is the openness and direct communications between member organizations. Each member came to the table and discussed how we can create positive and collaborative programs for the young soccer player of today and future generations.

– Craig Scriven, Vice President and National Director, USSSA Soccer

“AYSO launched small-sided games in 1988 with our National Coaching Program, making adopting the other valuable elements of Player Development Initiatives (PDIs) a simple transition. As the national football association of the United States, we are proud to partner with the Federation in the implementation of IDPs. The benefits have already been realized by our early adopters and we will see more of them as IDPs align with AYSO’s vision, mission and six philosophies where the child; the player is our priority.

– Mike Hoyer, National Executive Director, AYSO

Players, coaches, parents and community members are encouraged to contact their local organizations or state associations if they have questions about IDPs.


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