Purpose of ODP
US Youth Soccer created the Olympic Development Program nearly 30 years ago. It was designed to identify and develop elite players across the country to feed the US national Team system. These core purposes remain today. Louisiana ODP also provides opportunities for players to train and play with other elite players from across the state and to be scouted by college and professional team coaches from across the country. These coaches consider a player’s participation in ODP as an indicator of talent, commitment and soccer ambition.
How Are Players Selected for ODP?
Players are selected in Louisiana on the basis of open tryouts and an invitation process. Players are scouted year round from events such as LCSL, the US Youth Soccer National League, The State Cup and US Youth Soccer's Southern Regionals. The Scouting Staff will consist of ODP, South Region and US Soccer personnel. The LSA Technical Director will coordinate and have final approval on invitations to the closed tryouts.
Does ODP Conflict With Club or High School Soccer
ODP is intended to supplement a player's soccer development, not to cause conflicts. Tryouts, training sessions and ODP events are scheduled with potential conflicts in mind. ODP publishes a list has an exemption with the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) that allows the player to participate in ODP, during the High School Soccer Season. The LHSAA exemption includes Tryouts, Training, Games and Tournaments as approved by Louisiana's Olympic Development Program.
CAN PLAYERS BE ADDED TO THE STATE POOL AFTER THE TRYOUTS ARE OVER?
Players can be added under the following circumstances: Immediately after the State ODP Tryouts, once the State ODP Pools are announced, club DOC’s who feel very strongly that the evaluators missed a quality player can contact the State Technical Director. If the State Technical Director is satisfied that the club DOC is familiar with the ODP level and has a legitimate case, the player in question might be invited to an ODP practice for a second evaluation or a staff coach might be sent to watch the player play a club game. If the player is good enough, he/she might be added to the pool. Club DOC’s are encouraged to contact the LSA Technical Director immediately after the tryouts. The longer they wait, the less likelihood of the player being added. Once the fall season is over and the pool has settled down, it is much harder to add more players and it happens only on rare occasions.
Other typical scenarios that might warrant a player added to the pool are: – Quality player moving into Louisiana after the tryouts. – Quality player missing the tryouts due to injury. – Quality player identified by State, Regional, or National staff coach after the tryouts through the scouting network.
Players identified after the tryouts are added to the State ODP Pool only if they are in the top half of the pool and only with approval by the LSA Technical Director. The ODP at the state level has an obligation to identify the best players and put them in front of the Regional and National staff. This is the most important mission of the program.
WHAT IS THE PLAYER SELECTION PROCESS AT THE REGION LEVEL?
State and Region Scouts nominate players to attend Region Camp through training and SubRegional events. Selection comes from the Head South Region Coaches.
WHAT IS THE TRYOUT PROCESS AT THE STATE LEVEL?
In the selected ages, the tryout process in Louisiana starts with State Tryouts in November/December. Typically, between 40 to 70 players are involved in a State Tryout, depending on the age group. At the State Tryouts, a State Pool of 15-40 players is selected (the younger ages tend to have bigger pools than the older ages).
WHAT IS THE TRYOUT FEE?
The State Tryout fee is $75. When you register your child for ODP Tryouts online, you will be prompted to pay the fee. The fee must be paid before your child will be able to tryout. There will be a late fee incurred if your player is not signed up prior to the deadline date.
WHAT IS THE FORMAT OF A TYPICAL ODP TRYOUT IN LOUISIANA?
All the tryouts follow the same format. Coaches will receive a list of players in their assigned age group with their ODP Tryout number and position listed. The emphasis is on evaluating players in small-sided games. Each player gets more touches in a short amount of time, allowing us to evaluate everyone more effectively and fairly. – Using small spaces is a great test of the players’ technical and tactical awareness. All the evaluators use the same rating system for consistency. Full-size scrimmages and training sessions complement the tryout, evaluation process.
At the completion of the tryouts, a list of players selected is drawn up and given to the LSA Technical Director. This list will be published on the ODP Page of the LSA website as the State ODP Pools.
HOW LONG ARE THE TRYOUTS?
The usual time allocation for Louisiana ODP Tryouts are 1.5-2 hours per session. Depending on the numbers involved, the actual length of the tryout could be less than 4 hours. It is up to the Lead evaluator to decide how long is needed to accomplish the task. Tryouts are physically demanding and if small numbers are involved (i.e. 10-30 players), there is no need to keep the players going for 3 hours since fatigue will start affecting performance.
HOW ARE EVALUATORS SELECTED FOR THE TRYOUTS?
The evaluators are selected from the LSA State Coaching Staff and have experience at the highest levels of play. Most of the evaluators have participated as assessors of talent at many previous ODP tryouts and are familiar with the rating system and player qualities we look for. We try to avoid assigning an evaluator to the same ODP age group as the one he/she coaches at club level.
WHAT IS A REGION?
US Soccer split the country into 4 regions for administrative and logistical purposes. The four regions are known as Region I (Northeast), Region II (Midwest), Region III (Southeast) and Region IV (West). Each region comprises 12-14 State Associations. We are in Region III, together with AL, AR, FL, GA, MS, NC, NTX, OK, SC, STX, OK, and TN. Each Region has a Region Board presided by a Region Director. Each Region also runs the Region ODP. The Regional Director appoints a Region ODP Administrator and a Region ODP Head Coach who, together, are in charge of running the ODP at the Regional Level.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF REGION CAMP?
The main purpose of Region Camp is to evaluate the players from all the states and select a region pool of players in each age group for further evaluation and competition. All the states send their state teams to camp and play each other in front of the regional staff coaches.
The other purpose of region camp is to expose the players to a higher level of competition and contribute towards their personal development through challenging games and training with high level region staff coaches.
WHEN IS REGION CAMP USUALLY HELD?
Region Camp is usually held in early July each year. The two genders have their own separate camps, each at a different location. Since there are 4-5 age groups to evaluate, the camp is organized into 5-day-long sessions, with each session accommodating one to three age groups. At the end of the 5 day camp, a region pool is selected.
At the Region III Fall (October) Meeting, the dates for region camp for the following summer are set and, shortly after, are posted on our web site.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE STATE COACH?
The State ODP Coach prepares his/her team and players for scouting through training sessions.
WHAT PLAYER QUALITIES ARE THE REGION STAFF LOOKING FOR?
Just as at the state tryouts, quality first touch is the most important technical indicator of skill. Can the player control the ball with one touch or does he/she need multiple touches to bring the ball under control? Does the player get away from pressure with first touch or does he/she get into trouble because of a poor touch? This is closely related to the ‘speed of play’ at the elite level. The better the players, the higher the speed of play. In order for players to survive at the higher level’s speed of play, they have to have a good first touch.
The speed of play at the region pool level is much higher than at the state level and requires players to think quicker and control the ball quicker. Since players at this level are physically and mentally sharper, they anticipate and close down on the ball quickly, which means players have to execute their moves in tight areas, often surrounded by multiple opponents who pounce on every poor touch.
Another important attribute is what we call ‘quick feet,’ i.e., the ability to change direction on a dime and shift weight from one foot to the other and evade challenges with quick foot movements. This is, in the long run, an indicator of soccer specific athleticism which is more important than sheer size. As players mature at varying rates, size eventually evens out. But someone with ‘quick feet’ will always have an advantage and is more likely to develop into an ‘explosive’ player, which is so vital at the elite level.
Athleticism becomes very important at the highest level once players mature physically. It is no longer possible to just rely on superior skill without speed, strength and power, since all the players are highly skilled. The better athletes ally their physical attributes to their skill to rise to the top.
Lastly, ‘soccer smarts’ is also evaluated at the region level. Decisions on the ball and off the ball are scrutinized. Being able to ‘read the game’ and understand what kind of pass is needed, how to keep the ball under pressure, where to position oneself, how to help the team maintain a good team shape in attack and in defense, when to support the ball from behind and when to make runs ahead of the ball. All of these problem solving abilities separate the state level player from the region level player.
WHAT BENEFITS DO PLAYERS WHO ARE NOT SELECTED TO REGION POOLS GET FROM REGION CAMP?
Region camp has many other benefits for all the players. It is a chance for players to challenge themselves and gauge themselves against the best in the region. Good players thrive on playing against quality opponents and region camp provides a competition level that is rare. Experts tell us that for elite athletes to reach their potential, they need to play around 30-40 quality games per year where they are pushed by equal or superior opponents. The typical SST/ODP player doesn’t get a sufficient number of such games at the club level because many of these club games are against inferior players. Other than a few top-of-the-table clashes or top club tournaments, club games lack quality on a consistent level. ODP activities and region camp provide additional quality competition to supplement the club competitions.
Region camp can be an inspiring experience. Many players, who are used to being the best in their club team, get a rude awakening at region camp. They get exposed to the very best and become motivated to work harder and make the region pool the next time. For some players, region camp is a humbling experience. They come home highly motivated and with a new perspective. Player development is a long process, a journey affected by many factors and experiences, some positive and some negative. It’s hard to measure the impact each experience has on a player and hard to account for the intangibles. But many top American players look back on their experience at an ODP region camp as one of the turning points in their growth.
Region camp exposes all the players to the top college and national staff coaches. College coaches regard ODP participation and attendance in region camp as an indication of the players’ ability and ambition.
The opportunity to represent your state is another benefit. Pride in accomplishment, meeting players and coaches from other states, and learning a little about oneself and coping with adversity are some of the intangibles as well. If the players who ‘lift a trophy’ are considered the only beneficiaries of an event, everyone else would be missing the point.
WHAT ARE THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH ODP?
The following is the list of events that the Louisiana Olympic Development Program participated in previous season, and the estimated costs associated with each individual event for 2015. The costs of the Olympic Development Program can vary slightly year over year but this provides a good baseline of what costs to expect.
Pool Training Fees, Events & ODP Gear – $400-$500 (Includes Training) Events and Gear/ Uniforms are separate. Est costs for Events is $150.00 per. Uniform can range based on needs.
IS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE TO ASSIST WITH THE COST OF ODP?
The Louisiana Soccer Association State Select Team Program offers a financial assistance program for youth soccer participants who are in need of financial aid in order to play soccer on a Louisiana State ODP team. Each financial aid request is considered on a per event basis and covers a portion of the various fees associated with the ODP program.
The financial assistance program exists to provide financial aid to talented players. Once a player qualifies for the financial assistance program they will be notified of the amount available broken down by each event.
Individual financial aid may be awarded up to 80% of the total event fee. The difference between the financial aid amount and the event fee will be the responsibility of the player.