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Johnston United Soccer Association

U4-U6 Player Development Program

U4-U6 Player Development Program
JUSA is not focused on wins vs. losses, rather we place emphasis on player development. Therefore, we implement what we refer to as the Player Development Program (PDP) for our U4-U6 age groups. Modeled after US Youth Soccer’s Academy Program, JUSA first implemented this format with our U5 and U6 programs in the spring of 2012 with great success.

Instead of each coach being assigned a few players and the age group divided into smaller, season-long teams, all players of each age group receive the same color jersey and are considered to be part of one larger team.

Each skills session is a pool practice where there are several skills stations. A certified age group coordinator organizes developmentally appropriate activities for each session. At the beginning of each session, players are divided up into small groups of 6-10. Two or so coaches are at each station as each player group rotates through each area. At the end of the session, every player will have had time at every station and with every coach. Essentially, every player has 8 to 10 coaches. Each coach’s strengths offset the other coaches’ weaknesses, resulting in a well-rounded experience for every player.

On these days, players will rotate through a few skills stations, have a short break, and then participate in a small-sided game. For the first couple of games, players are divided up randomly into appropriately sized groups. Each group will be split in half using colored pinnies, and play an actual game, going to goal.

Eventually, players will be rated by skill level and divided into groups of likeability. Competing against players of likeability creates appropriate resistance, increases touches on the ball and allows each player the opportunity to apply skills learned in a live game situation. Because players develop at different rates, they are continually assessed weekly throughout the season, and adjustments are made to group assignments as individual skill levels change.

More information about USYSA’s Academy Program can be found at:

Why No Goalkeeper?

Goalkeeping, as it relates to the adult version of soccer, requires a combination of motor skills, athletic talent and decision-making. A goalkeeper is not utilized in the U5-U8 small-sided game because:

  • Goalkeepers must be field players first. Prior to specializing as goalkeepers, children must learn the broad parameters of "play". This is difficult to do when they hide beneath the crossbar and between the posts.
  • Goalkeepers must possess field-playing skill. This is particularly true since the laws governing the 11-a-side game have been changed to prohibit the goalkeeper from using handling skills to receive balls passed by teammates.
  • Psychological maturity is necessary in order to function as a goalkeeper.
  • The peripheral vision and hand eye coordination at these ages are usually not developed to the point necessary to effectively play goalkeeper.

According to The Official US Youth Soccer Coaching Manual,

 "When to begin as a goalkeeper is a question asked by many coaches. The authors [Dr. Thomas Fleck, Dr. Ronald W. Quinn, Dr. David Carr, William Buren, Virgil Stringfield] believe that initiating goalkeeping in games prior to age nine is inappropriate. Children should be exposed to body movements that simulate what goalkeepers do, but to put them under the pressure of being a goalkeeper before they have developed some basic psychomotor and cognitive skills is inappropriate."

U4-U6 PDP Curriculum
JUSA follows the United States Youth Soccer Association’s recommendations for developmentally appropriate activities. The below information regarding age groups is taken from “The Official US Youth Soccer Coaching Manual.” The entire manual can be viewed by Clicking Here.

The focus of U4-U6 is mainly on individual ball control. In this “My ball” stage of development, there is typically very little passing. The vast majority of activities will involve each player with his/her own ball.

Our goal in this league is for all of the players to become skilled ball handlers, with emphasis primarily on the use of the proper part of the foot, and to learn a bit about being aggressive on the field and going after the ball when others have it. Players will also learn how to dribble the ball closely. Sessions are co-ed. Teams will play 3v3, without a goalie, on a field size of about 30 yards x 25 yards with small goals. 

Program Details

Practice Day/Times
The U4-U6 program is on Saturday morning.
U4 and U5- 8:30-9:30 AM  
U6- 9:30-10:30 AM

YMCA Powhatan Soccer Fields
3798 Powhatan Road, Clayton, NC 27520


Volunteer Coaching
We are a volunteer organization.

Small-Sided Games

Small-Sided Games
JUSA follows the United States Youth Soccer Association’s recommendations for the use of small sided games (SSG) for U12 and below. The importance of this format of play in youth soccer development is evidenced in a study conducted by the German Football Association, in conjunction with Sports University of Cologne on 6-10 years old. Results of this study in their entirety can be viewed clicking here

Characteristics of Small-sided Games

More opportunities to play the ball. The fewer players on the field, the more possible times a player will come in contact with the ball. In fact, players will find they have no choice; the ball will quickly find them!

More opportunities to score. Many players in an 11v11 game are not inclined to seek the goal, because they are so far away or because of defensive restraints.

More opportunities to scheme. As we play we must constantly change and adapt to our surroundings. This challenge is the basis for tactics. How do we solve the puzzle?

More opportunities to coach. The small-sided game allows coaches a perfect opportunity to observe and analyze the individual and collective responses of players under quick game-like conditions. Are players comfortable with the ball? Are they confident in defense? How well do they adapt to the unexpect­ed? Do they recognize goal-scoring opportunities?

US Youth Soccer recommends small-sided games for U12 and below. More information about the importance of the small-sided game in youth soccer development can be found at:

Johnston United Soccer Association

439 Athletic Club Blvd 
Clayton, North Carolina 27527
Phone : 919-351-0650
Email : [email protected]
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