Zones of Development

Zones of Development

Junior Academy Overview (8U-12U) - Zone 1

The Bridge Between Recreation and Travel

The mission of the Congaree Rapid FC Junior Academy program is to create an environment of player development from the most important early ages (7-12). All training and games will focus on learning, creativity, problem solving, and FUN in order to meet the demands of the individual players of this age. The Congaree Rapid FC Junior Academy program is directed toward talented and enthusiastic young players and serves as a link between the Recreation program and the competitive Select program. The focus will be on individual development over team success.

Unlike other soccer-playing countries, in this country we ask young soccer players to compete and win soccer games before they are taught how to play soccer. The problem with this focus becomes very obvious at higher levels of competition and older age groups, where the player pool is replete with athletic players who are technically years behind where they should be. The effects are even more remarkably apparent when compared with programs in other countries, which are focused on individual technical development - such as Holland, Brazil, and Spain. This problem starts at the youngest ages. Motivated by an adult-induced win-at-all-costs focus, young players go out and attempt to win the only way they know how—they kick the ball as hard as they can and run after it. Who could blame them? Without technical skills, this is the surest way for these players to win games. Athleticism wins - obscuring the need to develop skill. The pressure to win, coupled with an inability by some inexperienced volunteer coaches to teach soccer skills, inhibits these players from developing the technical skills necessary to play soccer at a higher level.

Ironically, it is at these young ages when these technical skills are most easily and most quickly learned, in order to pave the way for success at later years. It is the programs and coaches that focus on technical skills at the earliest ages, often at the expense of hustle and power and winning, that go on to produce successful players in the older age groups. The athletic player that matures early and overly relies upon power and speed and neglects technical development soon finds that others catch up to them athletically and they do not have the technical ability to continue on in the game at a high level.

Experts agree that the most important soccer development happens between the ages of 6 and 10. For this reason, the Rapid Junior Academy will now provide professional instruction in all technical areas of the game in a pressure-free environment for players at these ages. From the youngest grassroots level to the oldest and highest level, our players will learn that the game is more enjoyable and effective when the focus is on possession. Possession soccer is in contrast to the commonly used “kick and run” soccer referenced above, which is often found effective in young ages but does little to prepare players for top levels.

We take pride in developing from within our program rather than simply recruiting the best players. The true measure of a quality program is how many players develop to move to a higher level - this requires teaching vs. recruiting. CRFC has been developing players for other local area clubs, top level high school programs, college teams and even professional teams teams for more than 20 years. While winning is encouraged, player development comes first. It will be a focus of the Rapid Junior Academy program to teach players and parents that winning only comes in soccer after years of hard work learning the fundamentals of the game. We aim to change the ever-so-common "club hopping" syndrome witnessed in this country when parents are only happy if their child’s team WINS at the youngest ages. For these club-hoppers, if a coach or a team that was winning is no longer getting results on the scoreboard, it means it is time to jump ship and look for the next best thing, often at the expense of developing the skills which will ensure future success - the opposite of what we hope to achieve in the Rapid Junior Academy.

CRFC will teach a long term approach that requires players to put in the necessary time learning the game first and requires patience and loyalty from parents as the players improve gradually over time. We believe that our program provides the best possible environment for young soccer players to capitalize on the opportunities that the great game of soccer will offer. Our goal is to provide the best developmental program for the youth soccer player. Visit our facility, attend a training session, meet our coaches ... You decide if we are accomplishing our goal!