Long-Term Development and Long-Term Participation

Our Club’s Technical Goal: A holistic development experience with the player/person at the centre

A holistic approach to development incorporates growth in four areas:

  1. Technical-Tactical - The attacking and defending skills of soccer as well as the attacking and defending tactics and strategies of the game.
  2. Physical - In younger players this manifests as the development of athleticism and coordination - what is called physical literacy. As players get older it becomes speed, stamina, strength and suppleness (i.e., flexibility).
  3. Cognitive - With the increased understanding of the brain as well as how learning happens, there is much that can be done here. For example, developing curiosity, learning to make good decisions, thinking critically, accepting and acting on feedback.
  4. Social-Emotional - Here, the emotional represents the ability of the player to get the best from themselves, like proper emotional regulation for example. The emotional also incorporates what often gets referred to as the mental or psychological aspects of development. The social involves all the skills we need in order to get the best out of others. Of great importance is our abilities to speak and to listen well.


The traditional approach to soccer player development is mostly technical-tactical in nature. Higher level players may experience some physical development. However, little is done to help any player develop in the cognitive or the social-emotional areas. We need to do a better job of developing the person and not just the player.


The person and the player...

The Eliot River Ramblers Soccer Club is committed to developing its children and youth members both on and off the field.


Hey! What can we say? We’re greedy! We want more people playing soccer and playing it for longer. Social-psychological research shows us that we tend to stay involved with things that 1) we feel we’re good at and 2) we feel a connection to. That connection could be to the game or to people or both. Here are the ways you can expect us to go about achieving those two things.


Our Principles for Long-Term Development and Long-Term Participation


  • Create a safe (physical, emotional and social) environment - Children and young people have the opportunity to learn and develop positive values and attitudes associated with sport and recreation through their participation experiences. For example, participation in sport and recreation creates opportunities for participants to learn about the importance of fair play and positive side-line behaviour, how to cope with winning and losing, and about the rewards that can come with effort. This can only happen if these values and attitudes are encouraged or modelled by coaches, teachers, instructors and parents.


  • Use more play-based and game-based formats for learning - Numerous studies identify that children’s free time and opportunities for free play are declining. Increasingly children’s play is organized and structured, and is becoming increasingly institutionalized and adult-driven. Free play is child-driven and provides an opportunity for children to practice decision-making, develop their creativity, leadership and group skills. Ensuring that a child has access to both free and structured play will create balanced learning and development opportunities.


  • Prepare players to compete successfully - Organized sport is a competitive activity, but it is important that winning is kept in perspective as children and young people are learning how to play. Children and young people tell us that too much emphasis on winning turns them off sport. They want proper preparation to enable them to compete successfully in sport. Programmes that emphasize skill development and success through effort provide more fun and enjoyment, and increase the likelihood of retaining children and young people in sport over time.


Adapted from Good Practice Principles: Children and Young People in Sport and Recreation. Sport New Zealand. Wellington: New Zealand. 2014. https://sportnz.org.nz/media/2012/good-practice-principles-for-the-provision-of-sport-and-recreation-for-young-people.pdf

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