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Developmental Pathway

MCSA Developmental Philosophy and Pathway

MSCA provides playing opportunities to meet the needs of kids throughout Mendocino County.  We've developed Grassroots Academy, Developmental Soccer League (DSL), and Select Teams.

But first, let's talk about the developmental philosophies that underpin these primary programs.

When looking at player development, we assess four aspects:

  • Technical ability,
  • Tactical ability,
  • Physical ability, and
  • Psychological/emotional maturity.

Technical pertains to their abilities of dribbling, passing, receiving, and shooting. This is sometimes referred to as their “touch” with the ball and execution.

Tactical pertains to their “Soccer IQ”, or knowledge of the game and how to play it. This deals with decision-making during game-like situations/scenarios that are created in training and game environments. This also includes how the game is played and how the “team” plays in different real-time situations in a game.

These two are most important to us and emphasized at the U14 level and below and continue to be important as they continue to mature. Of the two, technique is the most important because tactical application requires execution through proper technique.  

The next two components are important at their younger ages but are not stressed. They are physical ability and psychological/emotional state.

We know that psychological and physical development varies amongst individuals. The dominant player at a young age who is simply bigger, stronger, and faster will soon have the others around them mature and catch them physically. If this individual doesn't develop the technical aptitude, then the player who developed the technique will, in the end, be a much better player. 

In the world game, size doesn'tmatter. There is no stereotypical physique for a footballer. The two greatest players of the modern era have completely different physiques; Messi, who is 5’6”, and Ronaldo, who is 6’2”. At young ages, their emphasis on their development was technical and tactical.

Psychological pertains to maturity and emotional levels and how they cope with stress during the game. This could be thought of as their “mental toughness.” How they handle the physical demands of the game, how they respond to adversity, do they stop when things go against them, or do they buckle down and elevate their play.

Physical deals with speed, agility, balance, strength, power, and endurance. These two components are emphasized a bit more, starting at the U14 age groups, but we still focus on the technical and tactical elements of development.

From a generalized view, this is the progression of MCSA's player development pathway: 

  • Grassroots Academy ->
  • DSL ->
  • Select Teams

Note: There could be a situation in which a Grassroots player could move directly onto a Select Team.

Grassroots Academy

  • Player development starts at the U5 through U12 levels. Here we look to create Masters of the Ball, Artists on the field. The emphasis is technical ability focusing on the fundamentals of dribbling, passing, receiving (control), and shooting. Here the players participate in a wide variety of fun-filled activities where they are developing their gross and fine motor skills as well as developing motor memory. Every player has a ball, and we discourage lines and running without the ball. The children remain engaged and are having fun the entire time.  

  • Professional coaches run these sessions.

  • Grassroots Academy has sessions in the fall, spring, and summer in Ukiah, Willits, Covelo, and the Coast. 

Learn more about Grassroots Academy for the fall here.

Developmental Soccer League (DSL)

  • This group consists of U8 through U15 age groups. Ideally, this group would have participated in the Grassroots and developed a foundation in their technical abilities. Now the individuals here are in a more of a team setting. 

  • DSL is for those looking for a more competitive environment without the extensive travel required of the Select Teams. We currently have teams from the Coast, Covelo, Ukiah, and Willits. 

  • The volunteer coach is an essential element of this group. These coaches are guided by our Select Team coaching Staff and Directors to continue to facilitate the development of technique but also introduce team concepts and tactical aspects of the game.

  • Volunteer coaches and teams have one night with an MCSA coach who will run a session, and then the volunteer coach will perform the same exact session on their own.  This program only takes place in the fall season.

    Register for fall 2023  DSL

Select Teams

  • Our Select teams compete in the NorCal Premier League of Region 5. Players must tryout and be chosen by the MCSA staff. They're typically the players/families that are the most committed in terms of time and travel commitments required.

  • Select players, typically but not always, have moved through either the Grassroots, DSL or both systems before making the Select Team.

  • When determining whether the player is ready, we look at technical, tactical, physical, and psychological aspects more closely. These players typically have excelled in the technical aspect and have demonstrated a high affinity for how the game is played.

    Click for Select Team details.

This path is designed to create technical players who have developed a love for the game.  Ultimately, we hope to have all our players move on to the Select Level. Realistically though, we know some individuals/families play just for fun and are not interested in the competitive side and commitment of travel and time required. 

Our primary goal is to provide a positive environment for learning and fostering a love for the beautiful game, a game that is so much more than just a game!

Contact us for more information on how to get your child involved.