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Girls' Development Academy FAQ's

The Girls' Development Academy is part of U.S. Soccer's global leadership position in women's soccer and connects with its mission to develop world-class players, coaches and referees. The objective of the Academy is to impact the everyday club environment to develop world-class players.

The creation of the Girls' Development Academy provides an improved player development model for the elite female player to focus solely on training with the appropriate number and level of games. This model focuses on the developing the individual player within the club environment, which allows for additional training sessions per season to enhance player development.



What is the Development Academy?

U.S. Soccer started the Development Academy Program to improve long-term player and coach development. After studying player development models domestically and internationally, U.S. Soccer collaborated with elite soccer clubs across the nation to create a program to provide the proper environment by emphasizing quality training and limited meaningful competition.


Why did U.S. Soccer create a Girls' Development Academy?

U.S. Soccer wanted to provide a player centered program that is focused on the development of the individual without bias, distractions, self-interests and financial gains that compromise the optimal everyday environment. This is needed to continue to set the standard for world-class players.


What are some of the benefits of playing in the Girls' Development Academy?

The Academy's elite training environment promotes increased technical standards and allows for greater accountability for players and coaches. Coaches can devote more time to these areas in training. Both players and coaches must learn to deal with and manage the challenges of playing in games using international rules, which is what players will experience at the highest levels.


The Academy program provides an improved environment with the proper training-to-game ratio that supports year round periodization for development.

How does playing in the Girls' Development Academy help a player accelerate their development?

By participating in the Academy, a player will have substantially more hours on the training field focused on refining technique and tactical understanding. With a minimum of four training sessions per week, there is significant opportunity to work on technique and receive instruction from coaches and U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors as part of a continuous seasonal plan for the players' development.

How many days per week will the USSF Development teams train?

USSF Development Academy teams will train a total of 4 days per week. Players are expected to attend all practices to be considered for competition in games.

How many games are played and how long is the Academy season? 

Each Academy club plays approximately 30 league games, including 6 games played at Showcases. The season begins in September and commences with Finals Week in July.

Minimum Start Requirement:

All U13 though U18/19 full-time Academy players, including goalkeepers, are required to start at least 25% of the Academy’s games during the season.

How many players are selected per team?

Each team will select between 18-22 players for the given year.

How do Development Academy players get exposure to US National teams?

US Soccer scouts attend the majority of development academy games and showcases to identify players for National team camps & US Training centers.

What about College exposure?

Development Academy players undoubtedly receive the best college exposure of any club in the country two USSF Development Academy Showcase events and attendance of college coaches at development academy games and showcases.  The USSF Development Academy program will certainly help players to pursue their college dreams & make them a reality.

How much are Academy clubs required to travel? 

Academy clubs can expect 15-20 away matches in a given season, some of which will require overnight travel. Exact travel distances will vary depending on their geographic proximity to their opponents and Academy events.

Can Academy players participate with non-Academy teams during the season? 

In order to develop players of the highest quality, the top players must be training and playing with each other regularly. High school soccer has assisted in helping some players to grow and it does encourage community spirit. Often times, however, the best players are not challenged sufficiently in training or in games because they excel above the level of their teammates and opponents.

In the Frontier Conference of the US Girls Development Academy, the high school soccer calendar has proven to be problematic. Nebraska and Kansas play high school soccer in the spring with Texas playing in the winter/early spring. Colorado also plays a late winter schedule. There is no mutually exclusive window to circumvent league play over its 10-month competitive calendar.  


In February of 2012, US Soccer mandated that for the Boys Development Academy, to aid development, all players were to forgo high school seasons. US Soccer then scheduled Academy games over a 10-month league period, allowing for some blackout periods and down time. This was done mainly to help prevent injuries, spread games out, increase training opportunities and improve the overall development of young players. The Girls Development Academy will follow this successful precedent. 


There are benefits to playing high school soccer. However, each high school has players spread over 4 years of physical development, we have to agree with US Soccer that Academy Clubs should take on the responsibility of holistic player development year round.

You can access US Soccers FAQ Page HERE


For more information on the Girls' Development Academy contact Alex Mason:

December 20, 2018

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May 11, 2018

Dear Sporting Omaha FC Players, Parents, Volunteers, Family and Friends,

This is the last in a series of informational emails about the Girls Development Academy (GDA) addressing some of the more controversial questions we have received about the program. This email dea...

May 11, 2018

Dear Sporting Omaha FC Players, Parents, Volunteers, Family and Friends,

If you’ve been keeping up with our communication regarding the U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy (GDA) then you know we’ve likened the development structure to a jigsaw puzzle – to fully appre...

April 17, 2018

Dear Sporting Omaha FC Players, Parents, Volunteers, Family and Friends,

“The fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain.” – Zig Ziglar

Introducing a new program into an existing club structure isn’t easy. By accepting membership in the Girls Development Academy (G...

April 11, 2018

Dear Families,

One of the questions we are hearing is why we decided to partner with US Soccer’s Girls Development Academy (DA). For Sporting Omaha FC, the DA aligns with our club’s philosophy of cultivating a passion for the game while developing character in players,...

April 11, 2018

Dear Families,

On March 8, we announced our partnership with the U.S. Soccer Girl’s Development Academy (GDA) for the 2018-19 season. We are excited to be part of this elite program and the opportunities it provides for our players, coaches and club.

Our decision to beco...

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