Q: What is the Purpose of ODP?
A: Check out our What is ODP page for this information.
Q: Which age groups are eligible for ODP?
A: The ODP age group refers to the year in which a player was born, e.g. players born between January 1 and December 31, 2001 are classified as '01s. For the 2018/2019 seasonal year, the following age groups are eligible: '02s, '03s, '04s, '05s, '06s and '07s. Players born in 2008 are too young for the 2018/2019 ODP year and must wait for next year.
Player Selection at the State Level
Q: What is the player selection process at the State Level in Georgia?
A: In Georgia, the main vehicle for player selection is the open tryouts. The open tryouts are held in the fall and state pools of 30 to 40 players are selected.
The state pool in each age group trains between 10 and 20 times per year, (Note: the younger age groups typically train more often than the older age groups.)
The state pools also attend one or two inter-state events, usually in the winter and/or spring. In April, state teams are selected from the pools and these state teams go to Region Camp in July.
In the three youngest age groups, the state pool is split into an A team and a B team; both teams go to Region Camp. In the three older age groups, we typically send one team to Region Camp.
Q: Can players be cut from the State Pool after tryouts are over?
A: In all age groups, once a player is selected in the fall to the state pool, he or she is eligible to participate in all the training and events until April of the following year. After April, the process depends on the age group. The three youngest age groups keep the entire pool in the system and take everyone to the summer camp. The three oldest groups cut the pool down to a state team of 16 to 18 players (plus alternates) in April and only take one team to camp.
Q: Can players be added to the State Pool after tryouts are over?
A: Immediately after the state tryouts, once the state pools are announced, club coaches who feel very strongly that the evaluators missed a quality player can contact the State Director of Coaching.
If the State DOC is satisfied that the club coach is familiar with the ODP level and has a legitimate case, the player in question may be invited to an ODP practice for a second evaluation or a staff coach may be sent to watch the player play a club game.
If the player is good enough, he or she could be added to the pool. Club coaches are encouraged to contact the State DOC immediately after the tryouts. The longer they wait, the less likelihood of 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 Georgia 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 who excel at the District Training Centers and are promoted into the state pool
Players identified after the tryouts are only added to the state pool if they are in the top half of the pool and only with approval by the State Director of Coaching.
The ODP at the state level has an obligation to identify the best players and put them in front of the regional staff. This is the most important mission of the program.
Q: What is the player selection process at the Region Level?
A: At Region Camp, players compete against other states each day and are evaluated for selection into the region pool in each age group. At the end of camp, a region pool of 40 to 60 players is selected. The region pool (for most age groups) is held over at camp for another two to three days to train under the region coaches.
In the months after camp, region teams of 16 to 18 players will be selected in each age group to participate in national camps, inter-regional events and/or international trips. The National Staff Coaches attend these events and evaluate players for inclusion into national pools.
Q: What is the tryout process like at the State Level?
A: For most ages, the tryout process in Georgia starts with preliminary tryouts in September, followed immediately by the state tryouts in September or October. Some of the older age groups do not have preliminary tryouts due to the smaller number of players involved. In those instances, all the players go directly to the state tryouts.
The preliminary tryouts are open for all age-eligible players. Those who perform well in the preliminary tryouts are invited to the state tryouts and are joined there by the players who were in the state pools in the previous year.
Typically, between 50 and 80 players are involved in a state tryout, depending on the age group. At the state tryouts, a state pool of 30 to 40 players is selected. (Note: the younger ages tend to have bigger pools than the older ages.)
Q: What is the tryout fee?
A: The preliminary tryout fee is $45. The state tryout fee is also $45. When you register your child for ODP tryouts online, you will be prompted to pay the fee. If you advance from the preliminary tryouts to the state tryouts, you will have to register again online for the state tryouts and pay the additional $45 fee.
Q: What is the Exempt List?
A: In the age groups that start with a preliminary tryout, the exempt list is a list of players who can skip the preliminary tryouts and go directly to the state tryouts. The list includes players from the previous year’s state pool as well as a few players who excelled at the state’s District Training Center (DTC) program and those identified via the pre-ODP scouting program.
Q: What is the District Training Center (DTC) program?
A: The DTC Program is a developmental program for the outlying areas of the state that serves both as a high-level training program to supplement development and as a feeder system into the state ODP for players who live too far from Atlanta.
We currently have District Training Centers in Dalton, Richmond Hill, Tifton and Warner Robbins. The DTC runs parallel and independent to the ODP, with its own tryouts in November and weekly training sessions in the winter and spring.
Players who excel at the DTC are promoted to the state ODP through a constant communication link between the DTC and ODP staff. Information about the DTC is posted on the District Training Center page and typically appear in mid-October with tryout details.
Q: What is the format of a typical ODP tryout in Georgia?
A: All tryouts follow the same format; the emphasis is on evaluating players in small-sided games. We use 4v4 games most often but sometimes use 5v5 or 6v6, depending on the ratio of players to evaluators and the age group.
We use small-sided games for the following reasons:
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. A poor first touch or poor passing is punished in tight spaces. Quick thinking is needed to succeed.
Small areas eliminate the physical components of size, strength and fitness, which are not that important at the youth level. We think it's more important to focus on and evaluate the technical and tactical components.
In the small-sided games, the tryout evaluators observe the players and rate them. All the evaluators use the same rating system for consistency. They observe one group at a time and rotate in order to see all or most of the players. Depending on the numbers, this portion could take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes to accomplish.
Once the small-sided games are done, the evaluators gather quickly to compare the ratings and compile a tentative list of players. The second part of the tryout consists of 11v11 games, which are used to confirm the list and look for any players that were missed. At the completion of the tryouts, a list of players selected is drawn up and given to the administrators.
Q: How long are the tryouts?
A: ODP tryouts usually last three hours. Depending on the numbers involved, the actual length of the tryout could be less. 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, there is no need to keep the players going for the entire three hours since fatigue will start affecting performance.
Q: How are evaluators selected for the tryouts?
A: Evaluators are a mix of ODP staff coaches and club coaches who have experience at the highest club levels. Most of the evaluators have acted as assessors of talent at previous ODP tryouts and are familiar with the rating system and player qualities we look for. We avoid assigning an evaluator to the same ODP age group as the one he/she coaches at club level.
ODP Region Camp
Q: What is a region?
A: US Soccer split the country into four 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 is comprised of 12 to 14 states. We are in Region III with Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Texas, North Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Each region has a Region Board presided over 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 are in charge of running the ODP at the regional level.
Q: What is the purpose of Region Camp?
A: The main purpose of Region Camp is to evaluate the players from all the states within our region 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.
Q: When is Region Camp usually held?
A: Region Camp is usually held in early July each year. Boys and girls have their own separate camps, each at a different location. Since there are four to five age groups to evaluate, the camp is organized into five day-long sessions, with each session accommodating one or two age groups. At the end of the 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 site.
Q: What is the player selection process at the Region Level?
A: At Region Camp, players compete against other states each day and are evaluated for selection into the region pool in each age group. At the end of camp, a region pool of 40 to 60 players is selected. The pool (for most age groups) is held over at camp for another two to three days to train under the region coaches. In the months after camp, region teams of 16 to 18 players will be selected to participate in national camps, inter-regional events and/or international trips. The National Staff Coaches attend these events and evaluate players for inclusion into national pools.
Q: What is the role of the Region Staff?
A: The Region Head Coach appoints Age Group Coaches and support staff. Each age group has a Head Coach, a couple of Assistant Coaches, a Keeper Coach and additional staff coaches. At Region Camp, each staff coach is assigned to work with one or two state teams for the duration of the five-day session.
The Region Staff Coach trains the assigned state teams, observes them in games and gets to know all the players by the end of the session. Each night, after the games are played, the region staff meets to discuss the players. Each staff coach announces which players from his own assigned teams impressed him and from this, a preliminary list of potential pool players is created.
This process is repeated each night and the list evolves based on players’ performances with their states and in the nightly pool games. As the week continues, some players are dropped and some are added, based on performance. The region staff finalizes the pool after the last game.
The Age Group Head Coach does not assign himself to any state teams. The Head Coach is free to move from game to game which allows him to focus on the players recommended by the staff at the nightly meetings.
Q: What is the role of the State Coach?
A: The State ODP Coach prepares his team for region camp and runs the first practice session on day 1. They are also in charge of coaching the state team during Region Camp.
Contrary to popular perception, the state coach has no impact or influence on player selection to the region pool. State Team Coaches are not allowed into the daily region staff meetings where the region pool list is developed. State Team Coaches are not allowed to promote a player. The player selection process does not depend on the ability of each state coach to sell his players; it is based strictly on the players’ abilities and what the region coaches are looking for in each position.
Q: What player qualities are the Region Staff Looking for?
A: Just like 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 or she need multiple touches to bring the ball under control? Does the player get away from pressure with first touch or does he or 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 faster and control the ball more quickly. 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 to 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 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 are 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, etc. separate the state level player from the region level player.
Q: What is the Region Camp format?
A: Boys and girls camps vary slightly, but players typically arrive and check in the afternoon of the first day. The state coaches run their own practice on the first evening, after which everyone attends the Opening Ceremonies and dinner. The second, third and fourth days are similar in format, with one practice session and one game per day. The practices are run by the region staff coach. The fifth and final day typically has a game in the morning, after which the region pools are announced and the state teams depart around lunch.
On some of the evenings, region pool games are used, where players who excelled in the previous inter-state games are pulled from their states and organized into teams and play a game in front of all the region staff. These pool games are important for the selection process as they pit the best players in camp against each other to see who can handle the speed of play and belong at the next level.
Q: How many games and practices take place at Region Camp?
A: The key objective in region camp is to maintain a good balance between work and rest, to make sure the players can show their best when it matters. For that reason, players have one game and one practice per day on full days (day two to day four) and one practice or one game on half days (days one and five.)
Whenever possible, players who are selected to play in pool games sit out their state team game so they don’t play two full games on the same day.
The summer heat and humidity combined with the higher intensity and speed of play at region camp require significant rest periods between activities. Region camp is not like a standard college summer camp or a club tournament where players are on the field for long periods playing or working on technique; region camp is a test of ability and about quality rather than quantity.
A fact often ignored is that games at region camp require a higher expenditure of energy than regular club games or scrimmages. The higher the skill level, the longer the ball is in play, the less time for recovery and the more intense the sprints and more wear and tear on the body. Games at the elite level require more rest and recovery. In lower-level play, the ball takes longer to get from one area of the field to another and the ball is out of bounds more often due to inferior skill. This allows players to rest more and catch their breath while the ball is away from their area. Games against weaker opponents are also less physically demanding since the ball stays in the same half for long periods.
In the past, Region Camp lasted six days and involved more games. Camp duration and number of games were recently reduced because mental and physical fatigue became an issue. The camp has evolved into a format that features less field sessions and more lectures and presentations to reduce down time and educate the players on the needs and requirements of elite athletes.
Q: How many players from Georgia typically make the hold-over region pools?
A: Historically, around 30 percent of the players that attend region camp from Georgia make the region pools. Although there is no guarantee, and the numbers vary from year to year, on average, about 60 to 70 of the 200 or so Georgia boys and girls who attend region camp each year, get named to the region pools.
From these pool players, around 20 to 30 make the region teams and 6 to 10 make the national pools in their age groups. This makes Georgia one of the top states in the country for success at placing players at the next level.
Q: What benefits do players who are not selected to region pools get from Region Camp?
A: 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 to 40 quality games per year where they are pushed by equal or superior opponents. The typical ODP player doesn’t get a sufficient dose 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 can lack quality on a consistent level. ODP activities and Region Camp provide additional quality competition to supplement the club competitions.
Region camp can also be an inspiring experience. Many players who are used to being the best in their club team, can 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. Players 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 players to 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.
Q: What are the costs associated with ODP?
A: The costs of the ODP program can vary slightly year to year but this provides a good baseline of what costs to expect.
Preliminary Tryout - $45
State Tryout - $45
Training fees - $255
Girls – $795
Boys - $785
Q: Are there scholarships for ODP?
A: The Georgia Soccer Olympic Development Program offers a scholarship program for youth soccer participants who are in need of financial assistance to play on a Georgia Soccer ODP team. Each scholarship request is considered on a per-event basis and covers a portion of the fees associated with the program.
Once a player qualifies financially for the scholarship program, the amount of the scholarship is awarded based on player’s achievements.
Individual scholarships may be awarded up to 80 percent of the total event fee. The difference between the scholarship amount and the event fee will be the responsibility of the player.