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Learning to Train – U12 Grassroots Development Program Overview

This stage is in line with the Learning to Train stage of LTPD. It is our goal that once the players enter this stage they are fully equipped with a passion and love of the game as well as fundamental techniques required to introduce principles of play.

At U11-U12, FCD will operate with a complete 4-corner holistic approach which focuses on technical/tactical, physical, mental and social/emotional areas of player development. Physical literacy is always a component of a session.  This holistic approach is critical for complete player development and preparing players for our playing philosophy and game model. Our curriculum and focus can be found in the U11-U12 Overview and Curriculum. Emphasizing wins and losses at this stage is discouraged. Often the result of the game can come at the expense of learning.

There is no maximum number of players permitted in the program and the program is completely open, following the open roster principle (based on the number of players that attend fall open sessions the program may be limited to 1 team).  On game day the maximum roster of each team is 16.  Players will participate in a series of festivals with other Ontario Academies which follow the LTPD principles. Evaluation of these players will be continuous with 2 written player evaluations per year.  Age group will operate under a 44-week calendar, with a 3:1 training to game ratio and a 1:16 coach to player ratio.   FCD uses the Player Development Model for sessions regardless of the number of players in the program.  Training sessions are 60-75 minutes in length with the players having a 13 minute arrival activity.


Playing Format 9v9 (w/GK)
Game Day Rosters Max 16
Open Rosters Yes
Substitutions Unlimited (any stoppage)
Game Duration 2 x 35 min
Team Travel Time OASL
Match Official Referee
Throw-ins Pass in/Dribble in
Retreat Line Yes - 1/3 Way
Offsides Yes
Ball Size 4
Field width/length 42-55m/60-75m
Goal Size (no larger) 6x18
Max competition days per season 20
Number of competition days per week 1
Playing time per player per game Fair time in all positions
Playing time per player per festival Max 80 min
Minimum/Maximum rest between games 30 min/120 min
Memorable Events 4 (2 Ontario/2 US+Canada)
League Structure 8 Festivals of 2-3 games
League DRSA
Other Competition Friendlies and Festivals
Indoor League Yes
Training to Game Ratio Indoor 2:1/Outdoor 3:1
Coach to Player Ratio 1:16
Training Duration 75 minutes
Training - Arrival Activity 13 minutes
Player Development Model Yes
Indoor Season Length 20 weeks
Indoor Season Nov-Mar - 2 sessions per week
Outdoor Season Length 20 weeks
Outdoor Season Apr-Sept - 3 sessions per week
Physical literacy Component of each session
Trial Approach Open to all (Based on # of players)
Player evaluations 2 per year
Lead Coach qualifications C + L2T + MED + RIS + MHW + GL
Assistant Coach qualifications L2T + MED + RIS + GL
Coach evaluations 1 self, 1 verbal, 2 written

Coaching Methodology

  • Small sided games – let the game be the teacher.
  • Player Centred – allow the players to make decisions.
  • Use key factors to teach the players.
  • Demonstrate what you would like the players to do.
  • Keep information positive, brief and concise.
  • Create a positive learning environment.
  • Set appropriate challenges.
  • Sessions should have a theme.
  • Use a variety of interventions e.g. Q&A, Guided Discovery, Command.
  • Consider a young player’s self esteem. 
  • Avoid lines, lectures and laps.

Player Development Model


Technical Tactical Physical Social/Emotional Psychological/Mental
Dribbling Possession Agility Listening Motivation
Shooting Transition Balance Cooperation Self Confidence
Running with the ball Combination Play Coordination Communication Competitiveness
Ball mastery Playing out of the back Speed Sharing Commitment
Passing Pressing Basic Motor Skills Decision-making Self Control
Receiving Compactness Perception Respect/Discipline Determination
Fakes, fients and turns Switching play Awareness Fair play/Honesty Concentration
1v1 Attacking Attacking principles Acceleration Problem solving
Shielding the ball Reaction Empathy
Crossing Stamina Patience
Finishing Strength
1v1 Defending

Recent FC Durham Academy 2009G Pre-OPDL News

Joce Splitgerber signs with UNB Saint John

By Rich Hirst 06/28/2021, 1:15pm EDT

JUNE 28, 2021


Congratulations to FC Durham Academy (FCD) 2021 Graduate Joce Splitgerber on signing with University of New Brunswick Saint John!

We feel Joce has found a university that fit all her desires in a university environment and setting, which is exactly what this journey is about.

Rich Hirst our Girl's High-Performance Manager says "Joce came to FCD September 2019 and immediately impacted the group with her positivity, outgoing personality and communication level. She instantly became part of the FCD family and these traits are critical in the university culture. She is versatile and has spent time playing as a central forward and a right fullback over the past few years. Joce has a excellent ability to learn tactics, is physically strong and has the perfect mentality to excel at this level. We strongly believe that Joce will contribute to the Seawolves Program immediately and going forward."

Congratulations again to Joce and her family.

Joshua Quarless signs with Walsh University

By Tom Croft 05/10/2021, 4:45pm EDT

MAY 10, 2021


FC Durham Academy (FCD)  would like to congratulate 2021 Graduating  Mid Fielder Joshua Quarless on signing with Walsh University (Akron, Ohio).

Tom Croft our Boy's High-Performance Manger says "Joshua has been with FCD since day one.  Although quiet in nature he has made a big impact at FCD.  The Cavaliers are getting a very good Midfielder who can play in possession using his technical ability and will help out with a few goals over the season.  Josh  has a knack for scoring big goals.. Joshua will be studying Exercise Science at Walsh.  We look forward to helping Josh prepare for his future at Walsh University."

A big Thank You to Coach Howard  for all of his work with Josh over the years. Also we are very appreciative of Josh's Mom "Debra" for her support as Team Manager.

Congratulations to Joshua and his  family!

Evan Jerrett signs with Durham College

By Tom Croft 05/03/2021, 7:15pm EDT

MAY 3, 2021


FC Durham Academy (FCD) would like to congratulate 2021 Graduating 2003B Winger Evan Jerrett on his signing with the defending National Champions Durham College Lords.

Tom Croft our Boys High-Performance Manger says "Evan is dynamic forward, who has the ability to score and create chances for his teammates. The combination of speed and technical ability makes Evan a threat at all moments on the field. Evan is a player that has worked very hard in his time here at FCD. I am sure Evan will be a great addition to the Lords. We look forward to helping Evan prepare for his future at Durham College"

Congratulations to Evan and his  family!

Link to Durham College Announcement