Elite Player Development Program designed to help players succeed

Cole Haupt, 10, left, and Tanner Holt, 11, compete Saturday for possession during the Colorado Youth Soccer Elite Player Development Program Summer Developmental Camp at Canyon View Park.

On the first day of the Colorado Youth Soccer Elite Player Development Program Summer Developmental Camp, Nate Schotts made a decision that didn’t sit well with all the parents.

Friday, under the sun at Canyon View Park, Schotts and his coaching staff had their 43 campers don black shirts for the day. The purpose was simply teaching the players, all aged 10-12, to play through it.

“If you tell them they can’t make it because they’re wearing a black T-shirt, they’re not going to make it,” said Schotts, the Technical Director for CYS.

“That mindset is what it’s all about. They put on their shirt and they don’t care.”

The three-day camp finishes today and is used to prepare players for the United States Olympic Development Program, which is designed for players 13 and older.

Because the athletes are preparing for the next level, the camp focuses not only on physical training, but also mental aspects of the game.

Time was allotted each day for classroom sessions about the psychology of soccer and what players could expect as they progress in the sport.

“U.S. soccer has decided that this is really an important age group because they’re starting to develop (mentally) and if they’re not ready when we want them to be, it’s our fault.” Schotts said.

Eryn Peterson, 11, came from Glenwood Springs for the camp hoping to improve her game and learn a few new moves. She said having the classroom sessions was beneficial.

“In soccer we never really go to classrooms, we just do it all on the field,” she said. “It’s a lot more help in the classroom because you can actually learn and write things down instead of just going ‘what did he say?’

“We learned physical and technical (aspects), things that most kids normally don’t really learn until they’re a coach or something,”

Kade McClaskey, 11, whose older sister Baseley was recently selected to the United States Olympic Development Program’s Western U.S. training pool for players born in 1997, said a lot of the classroom session focused on not getting down.

“They just want you to stay positive a lot,” he said. “When you lose, it doesn’t matter.”

Outside the classroom sessions,  the camp’s coaches limit competition with full teams, opting instead for small sides of one to four players to help focus on skills such as defending technique and finishing on the offensive end.

“They came to develop, so we’re breaking it down that far,” Schotts said. “They don’t need anything more than small sided, like three vs. three, because they’ve still got to get that down.”

Schott said it was the first time the Elite Player Development Program has run a camp in Grand Junction, and it will not be the last.

The next camp is not scheduled yet, but Schott said eventually CYS hopes to have yearly camps in both the spring and fall.

“We just want to continue this program and this process in Grand Junction because you’re starting to produce kids in this area that can go to the next level, so we’ve got to do what we can to help them out,” he said.


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