Junior Academy FAQs

What is the Beach FC Junior Academy?
The Beach FC Junior Academy is a program designed to serve as a bridge from the Club’s Recreation program to the more competitive Travel program. Players will receive professional instruction and be grouped with more committed players of like-minded ability, resulting in a more intensive training environment. Rather than being strictly assigned to a specific team and coach, Junior Academy players train together in larger groups, called “pools.” In training pools, players can be moved into different groups daily, stations can be used, functional training can be provided to smaller groups within the pool, and a variety of coaches will train the entire age group at a central location at one time. The program’s Director of Youth Development serves to provide a unified and consistent approach to player development, building a solid technical and tactical foundation to prepare all players for more competitive environments in later years.

How does the Beach FC Junior Academy fit into the rest of the Club’s Programs?
The Beach FC Junior Academy serves as a higher level than the Recreation and Advanced programs in the U6-U10 age groups. After the U10 age group, players graduate from the Junior Academy and tryout for the full travel program with Beach FC at U11. The Junior Academy serves as a bridge from the Recreation program to the travel program.

Who should sign up for the Beach FC Junior Academy Program?
The Junior Academy program has been designed for players from age 5-10 that are athletic and/or love to play the game of soccer. Those Recreation players that typically attend additional training programs and camps should definitely sign up, as the Junior Academy combines all the additional training and games into one all-inclusive program. Even if your child has never played soccer before but has athletic ability, this program can be a great fit for your son or daughter.

What is the philosophy of the Beach FC Junior Academy program?
The Beach FC Junior Academy program prioritizes individual player development instead of team development. Technical and tactical skill development of the individual players serves to prepare players for success in later years, which is the main goal of the program. On the other hand, team development (which is often the focus in Recreation programs) in the early years often overshadows individual development, obscuring the need to develop skill and ill-preparing players for higher levels of the game. In the Junior Academy, rather than being assigned to a team, players will train in larger groups, or “pools,” and receive professional instruction, maximizing individual skill development. This professional but stress-free environment emphasizes learning over winning, creativity over memorization, problem solving over following orders, and long term skill development over short term results. We measure learning and fun, not scores and standings.

How often will the players train?
This will depend on the player’s age group. The players will gradually increase the frequency of training as they get older. The U6 players will train once a week and have one game a week. The U7 and U8 players will train twice a week with a weekly game. And the U9 and U10 players will train three times a week with a weekly game (one session a week will be optional but highly encouraged). Can my child participate in the Junior Academy program and also play Recreation, Advanced or Travel soccer? Children cannot participate in the Junior Academy AND Recreation, Advanced, or Travel. The participant must choose to play in EITHER the Junior Academy or one of the other programs offered by the Club.

What is the expected commitment? Do I have to give up on other sports?
The Junior Academy program is aimed at the long term development of the players, which requires a commitment to consistent practice. For the U6-U8 player, there is an option for a seasonal or a year-long commitment, but a year-long commitment is encouraged. For the U9-U10 age groups, all players must commit for the full year. This does not mean players cannot play other sports. Players in these young ages are encouraged to play other sports for more well-rounded development. However, it is expected that players still attend all training sessions and place the Junior Academy as a high priority. If an occasional scheduling conflict occurs, we just ask that the child notify their coach in advance of the absence. Many players in the Junior Academy and Travel levels also play other sports.

What is the year-round calendar?
Training and games are provided in the fall and spring seasons. Additional training and/or indoor soccer will be provided over the winter season for all interested participants at an additional cost. Tryouts take place in May after which participants break until the fall season, which will take place between August and November. Winter training and/or indoor take place from January through March. The spring season will take place between March and May.

What will the coaches focus on in training?
Training will focus mainly on technical skill development. Technical training will be a priority in order to develop the fundamental skills necessary to be successful in later years. Long term skill development is emphasized. To a lesser degree, coaches will focus on tactical decision-making (players making their own decisions), physical development (coordination, agility, speed, balance), psychological development (mental toughness, positive attitudes, maturity), and developing a love of the game of soccer. Players will train and play in a pressure-free environment with the freedom to make mistakes. The environment created will be one with little emphasis on winning, but it will be competitive. It is important to understand that challenging training sessions are the key to the development of players, so competitiveness will be encouraged to improve the level of training and games.

Do the players need to wear anything specific to practice and games?
Players are asked to wear their Club training T-shirt, black shorts and black socks to each practice. Players are asked to bring both uniforms and wear black shorts and black socks to each game or play day. A uniform appearance is important for creating a club culture.

What are “play-days” versus “games?”
For U6-U8 Junior Academy players, there will be one “play-day” per week during the fall and spring seasons. Play-days will take place on Saturday afternoons in a scramble format. No official teams will be formed. Players will rotate from field to field, playing with and against a variety of teammates and opponents. For U9-U10 Junior Academy players, there will be one or more “games” per week in a league structure. The purpose of both “play-days” and “games” is to reinforce skills learned in training and allow players an opportunity to make their own decisions in a game-like environment.

Why is the format for the U6-U8 age groups one of “play-days” versus organized “games” for the U9-U10 age groups?
The main purpose of play-days for the U6-U8 age group will be to organize a “street-oriented” game against other children. This in-house format allows children to play with and against others of a comparable standard without worry of results, fear of mistakes, or excessive adult influences, which is appropriate for players in these young ages. This is an avenue which truly gives the game back to the players and aims to capture the spirit of the free-play street soccer environment. Substitutions are limited or even eliminated when using play-days, as all players often play the entire game and the entire group rests together, resulting in 100% playing time for all players. Play-days also allow some games to take place at alternate locations, including the beach for sand soccer and basketball courts for futsal. There is very little structure, but it is highly organized and has been well thought out and planned. The Directors of Youth Development can adjust the game formats weekly in order to meet the needs of the individual players and continually challenge them. As the players age and become better able to adapt to the “game” environment at U9 and U10, the players are assigned to teams to play in a league, but still train together in larger pools.

Are there referees during “play-days?”
There are no referees. The children referee themselves. Players can decide about sideline restarts whether to dribble or pass in. Adult coaches serve to supervise only.

What is a “festival?”
For all U6-U8 players, the fall and spring season each conclude with a festival, celebrating the game and the players. The Directors will choose a format for the festival from many available options, including a world cup style in-house tournament, inter-club friendlies, skills competitions, etc. The festival is included in the seasonal and yearly fees.

What is the format of U9 and U10 games?
U9 and U10 players are assigned to teams to play in an organized league with weekly games, but teams still train in larger pools. For U9 players, there will be games on Saturday mornings in the Advanced league TASL (and occasional games on Sunday). For U10 players, there will be games on Sunday afternoons in the travel league VSLI (and occasional games on Saturday). As in the U6-U8 Junior Academy, the purpose of U9 and U10 games is to reinforce skills learned in training and allow players an opportunity to make their own decisions. Winning and losing will be kept in their proper perspective. Players are expected to attend all scheduled games. All players MUST bring both jerseys to all games.

Will the players play in any tournaments?
This will vary by age group. U6 players will not take part in any tournaments. U7 and U8 players will have the option to take part in 1-2 tournaments per year, including the Club’s own Coastal Kickfest Tournament in May. U9 players will take part in two mandatory Club tournaments each year - the Columbus Day Tournament in October, and the Spring Classic in March – as well as the mandatory TASL tournament both fall and spring. U10 players will take part in three mandatory Club tournaments each year – the Sun Cup in August, the Columbus Day Tournament in October, and the Spring Classic in March. Additional tournaments and friendly games will be available for all U9-U10 players as well. The Directors of Youth Development and Travel Directors will decide on any additional tournament or game participation. All tournaments will require an additional fee to be split by the members of the team, whether or not your child participates in the tournament. The U9 TASL Tournament, both fall and spring, requires no additional fee.

Do you have to tryout, and if so, how often?
This will vary by age group. U6 players do not need to tryout – just sign up if you wish to take part in this program. Limited spaces will be available so register soon to reserve your spot in the U6 Academy. All U7-U10 players must tryout yearly in May to take part in the Junior Academy program the following year. Some players may make a strong enough impression on the Directors and Academy coaches that they will be invited to take part in the Junior Academy through outside evaluations. In most cases, though, we want candidates to attend formal tryouts to confirm earlier evaluations.

What if my child can only attend one of the tryout dates?
Players are encouraged to attend all scheduled days of tryouts. If your child can only attend one of the scheduled tryout dates, please inform the Director of Youth Development prior to tryouts so they are aware of the child’s absence.

How old does my son or daughter need to be to join the Junior Academy program?
In general players should be 4-6 years of age to begin the Junior Academy program. U4 players will not be allowed to attend the Junior Academy sessions. U5 players may be able to join the Junior Academy program with an evaluation. In the U6-U10 Junior Academy program, a player’s ability (or developmental age) will be utilized to determine placement in the program, not a player’s physical age. No player will be allowed to play down, but players may be moved to older age groups to appropriately challenge them.

What happens if my son or daughter tries out and makes it?
After selection, a coach or Director for the Beach FC Junior Academy will contact the tryout participant by phone, email, face-to-face conversation, or by posting selections on the Club Website. If you need a day or two to think about it, no problem! After deciding to accept, the participant must return to the registration system to accept their spot in the program and pay their initial deposit. A meeting will be scheduled for all accepting participants to provide additional information for the program, go over club expectations, and meet the Directors. If you decide to decline your spot in the program, you can still sign up for the Recreation or Advanced program. The $5 tryout fee is non-refundable.

What happens if my son or daughter tries out and does not make it?
If your son or daughter had the initiative to tryout, this speaks well of his/her desire. We encourage all tryout participants to keep playing. Tryouts for the Junior Academy have been intentionally timed to allow all tryout participants not selected to register for the Recreation program or tryout for the Advanced program. We encourage all players to keep playing, improving, and to try again the following season or year.

Who are the coaches and what are their qualifications?
The Junior Academy philosophy is built on the belief that our youngest players require the highest level of coaching to start them on their developmental journey and set the stage for their future success. The success of any program is dependent upon the quality of the coaching staff. For these reasons, the coaches for the Junior Academy program will be fully licensed, qualified professional staff with years of experience as players and/or coaches in order to provide an environment with technical expertise and knowledgeable demonstrations. The Directors of Youth Development will hire all Academy coaches. None of the Academy coaches will have children that play in the age group in which they coach. There will be no parent coaches.

What do the coaches look for in the players?
In general, players selected for the Junior Academy Program will have 1 or more of the following attributes:

  1. Technical Ability - The ability to keep the ball close and under control. The ability to manipulate the ball in 1 v 1 situations. The ability to play with the head up and connect with teammates. The ability to perform technical skills with composure when under the pressures of time, space and/or opponents.
  2. Athletic ability - Agility, quickness, coordination, balance, endurance, etc.
  3. Speed of Thought - The ability to read the game and make good decisions quickly.
  4. Creativity - The ability to do the unexpected and find unique ways to solve the game’s problems.
  5. Character - The desire and passion to play soccer. They have a smile when they play and enjoy the game. The discipline to train in a professional environment (coachability, listening ability). A high work rate on and off the ball.

Once my child joins the Junior Academy Program, how will he/she be evaluated?
On a minimum, each child will be evaluated once in the fall and once in the spring either verbally or in writing.

What does the Junior Academy program expect from the players?
In addition to other more specific qualities and responsibilities, the coaches for the Junior Academy program will expect five things from the players in the program:

  1. Have fun.
  2. Give your best effort.
  3. Be enthusiastic.
  4. Come to the field with a positive attitude.
  5. Listen to and respect both coaches and teammates.

The Club has been able to develop extremely good players over time by focusing on these qualities and responsibilities.

What are the fees?
Fees vary by age group and are separated into payment installments.   View the fees here - /_files/JuniorAcademy/Fees/

The uniform is NOT included in the registration fee. A uniform package must be purchased separately. Uniform cycles are approximately two to three years. First time registrants must purchase a full kit. Each successive year until the next uniform cycle, the player will only have to purchase replacement (lost or outgrown)pieces.

Why are the fees different from the fees for Recreation and Advanced soccer?
The main difference in price between the different levels is the level of coaching. At the Recreation and Advanced levels, parent volunteers coach all teams. At the Junior Academy level, professional staff coaches train all teams. Additionally, the Junior Academy fee includes fees for a dedicated Director of Youth Development, a Training T-shirt, Registration and Administration fees including Insurance, a field fee, and league fees (league fees apply only to U9/U10 participants). The Junior Academy fees are comparable to what individuals would typically pay to take part in the Recreation or Advanced program and pay for additional clinics and camps. The difference between this a la carte cost structure and the Junior Academy is that the fee for the Academy is rolled into one all-inclusive price and you will receive consistent high level coaching year round. It is important not to have sticker shock when seeing the higher fee for such a program – be sure to determine what you get for the different price. The Junior Academy is a tremendous value, and in many cases less than what individuals end up paying when paying for training opportunities separately.

Is there a way to offset fees?
The club has several ways a team and/or individual can conduct a fundraiser. You may contact the Beach FC office for additional information on ways to offset fees. We believe strongly that finances should not be a reason why players choose not to participate in the Academy program. The ability of the players should be the deciding factor, not the price. The club will do whatever it can to ensure all players that want to participate and have the ability get that opportunity.

Which size soccer ball does my child need?
U6-U8 players need a size 3 ball. U9-U10 players need a size 4 ball.

How much playing time will the players receive?
All U6-U8 players will play 100% of the time (or very close to 100% of the time) in play-days. All U9-U10 players will play at least 50% of every game. In the U9-U10 age group, we keep roster sizes small to maximize playing time and individual attention.

Which team will my child be on? And how many teams will be formed?
This will vary by age group. In the U6-U8 age groups, no formal teams will be formed. Players will train and play as part of the entire age group pool. Games will be played in a scramble format on the weekend in “play-days.” U9-U10 players will be placed on evenly divided teams of 9-10 players as decided upon the Academy coaches and Director. The number of teams formed will be dependent upon the number of tryout players and will be decided upon by the Directors of Youth Development. This does not mean that all players will be selected. For example, if it is decided that 32 of the 50 U9 players trying out are ready for the Junior Academy program, we will form 4 teams with 8 players each (play is 6 v 6 at U9). And it will be recommended that the remaining 18 players choose the Recreation or Advanced programs for a more suitable level.

How many children will there be in each age group? And what will the coach-to-player ratio be?
Beach FC intends to promote and grow the Junior Academy participation into groups of 30 to 40 players each on both the boys and girls sides in each age group. Our goal is to have enough coaches to lead 8 to 12 players each.

Can my child play up in an older age group?
Almost all of the players compete within their own age group. However, it is possible within the Academy structure to move players to different age groups. A select few players will be moved to older age groups because their skill set is such that they need to be moved up to be challenged appropriately. Players play up at the sole discretion of the Directors of Youth Development. Logistics, scheduling factors, or family needs will NOT be considered when deciding on playing up.

I already signed my child up for the Recreation or Advanced program but now wish to take part in the Junior Academy, do I need to pay twice?
No, money already paid toward the Recreation or Advanced programs can be applied to your child’s Academy fees. So, you will only need to pay the difference between the Academy and Recreation/Advanced fees.

What if my child needs to miss a practice and/or game?
We encourage all players to commit fully to the program and attend all practices and games. However, missing an occasional game or practice is sometimes unavoidable. Just communicate this conflict in advance with your child’s coach or the Director. The flexibility of the Academy program usually allows us to work around an occasional absence.

Will there be both coed and all-girls?
This will vary by age group. The U6 age group will be coed in nature. The Boys and Girls Directors of Youth Development will collaborate in this age group. In the U7-U10 age groups, if possible and based upon the number of participants, the Junior Academy will provide both coed and all-girls options. If the numbers do not allow this, coed groups and teams will be utilized in the given age group.

What does the Junior Academy program expect from the parents?
In addition to specific requirements placed by the Directors of Youth Development or Academy coaches, we expect four things from the parents in the Junior Academy program: 1. Arrange to get your child to training and games on time 2. Be supportive of your child and teammates 3. Leave the coaching to the coaches (cheer, but do not direct your child or any teammates) 4. When fees are due, pay them promptly
One of the key factors in the growth of any developmental program is parents. For many parents, the only measure of a club is the position of the club or their child’s team in the standings. There is nothing wrong in this thinking, but the position of a team in the standings in the early years of soccer is not an indication of a Club’s ability to develop players. Most teams do well in the early years because of the athletic abilities of the kids. From 5-10 years of age, teams with more athletic kids and a direct style of play tend to win more. But, the teams focused on these results then do not learn the necessary skills to play the game and be successful in years to come. In these ages, the Junior Academy will focus on learning and development. We are not aiming to win this weekend – we are aiming to win 5-10 years from this weekend. This mindset dramatically shifts the focus of training away from short term results and winning, pushing it toward long term skill development and learning. A child-centered approach will be utilized, as opposed to an adult-centered, coach-centered, or win-at-all-costs approach. Pressure from parents or coaches to run and compete to win is not helpful to a player’s development. Parental coaching serves to confuse players and distract them rather than help. Parents will not be allowed to stand on the sidelines during training sessions. Parental coaching during practice or games will NOT be tolerated, and will jeopardize the child’s further participation in the Junior Academy program. To ensure the parents understand our policies and philosophy, education of parents in the Beach FC Junior Academy philosophy takes center stage. We make every effort to ensure that we get the right fit, and may lose some good players whose parents have a short term approach to the development of their kids. This is actually very important because the parents that stay are those that have a grasp of the big picture, and stay even when their kids improve and are recruited by other clubs. The importance of the point here is that we do not lose our players to other clubs as they improve, and are able to build strong teams and develop extremely good players over time. We measure our success by how many of our players advance to higher levels of play beyond the club level of soccer, not whether or not they win the U9 championship.

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