Hamilton Olympic U’9s SAP 2018

SAP stands for Skills Acquisition Program and covers the age group from U’9 to U’13.

This is the first year where National Premier League Clubs have been involved in running a SAP program. The emphasis of SAP is as it states and that is it focuses on skills acquisition. The four fundamental skills are;

* Striking the ball

* First touch

* 1v1

* Running with the ball

In this age bracket it is crucial to develop these basic skills because it has been found that after this phase any skills not attained are extremely hard to catch up on.

These basic skills cover 95% of outfield players’ actions when in possession of the ball and are learned through structured game like sessions that allow these skills to be developed at the same time as decision making and communication skills. The goal being that these skills will be automated before moving into the next phase being Game Training Phase.

Players are given every opportunity to develop these 4 skills through specific training and games where they are rotated through all positions and by taking away the focus from the result / score (but try stopping 9 year olds from keeping score).

Trials were undertaken early in the year where over 40 kids trialled for 18 places. Not an easy thing to do with kids of this age but from all feedback the selectors did a good job in selecting a group of boys with good skills and the right attitude towards developing their skills further. Two teams of 9 were created and both have progressed really well but also bonded together as one big squad. They have demonstrated high level skills for this age while developing friendships and enjoying each other’s company and sharing many moments of side splitting laughter. They have developed but have shown that they play the game because they love it and because it is fun. Due to their ability we coaches often have to remind ourselves that these kids are only 9.

The club has been very supportive of the squad and one of many highlights of the season was playing before the first grade team, walking onto the field with the first grade players and joining them in the change rooms post-match for the victory song.

These kids love the club, wearing their strip with pride and early signs are positive that they will develop the skills required to make them future first graders.

Source: Con Gounis

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