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.

When will the Girls' Development Academy begin and what are the season dates?

The first year of competition for the Academy Program will begin in the fall of 2017. The season begins in September and will end in July.

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.


What clubs can apply to be part of the Girls' Development Academy? Do clubs have to have both a boys and girls program?

Any club that believes it can meet the standards set by U.S. Soccer is welcome to apply to be part of the Academy.

How many clubs are selected to be part of the Girls' Development Academy?

The exact number is based on player pool, market analysis, geography, and quality of the club applicant pool.

When is the application available and when is the deadline to apply?

The application for the 2018-2019 Development Academy season will open in the Fall of 2017. The application can be found here once available.

What criteria is be used to select clubs that will be part of the Girls' Development Academy?

The Academy uses the following criteria when evaluating the application of each club for membership:

  • Leadership of the club and quality of the coaching staff
  • Desire to embrace and promote the core values of the program
  • U.S. Soccer license levels of coaching staff
  • Infrastructure of the club and the resources currently being invested in development (facilities, scholarships, staff to player ratio, etc.)
  • History of player production for youth National Teams, the Women's National Team, and professional leagues
  • Market with player depth, geographic location, proximity to other elite clubs and travel implications

Who will be evaluating club applications?

U.S. Soccer's Women's Youth National Team technical staff and Development Academy staff will review applications and accept clubs that meet the Girls' Development Academy criteria.

Does an Academy club have to field a team at all age groups?

Yes, clubs must have a team at all four age groups U-14, U-15, U-16/17, and U-18/19.

Will coaches have a license requirement? What license level? Starting when?

U.S. Soccer strongly believes that the quality of coaching has a direct impact on the quality of player development; therefore, the Girls' Development Academy will have a minimum license for all coaches to coach in the Academy. Similar to the process for the Boys Academy, U.S. Soccer will communicate timelines and expectations based on the analysis of the applications and the current license levels for the coaches. Clubs will be provided with a clear pathway to meet minimum license standards and expectations during the projected timeline. The future goal is for each Academy coach to hold a minimum of a USSF B license and for each Girls' Academy Director to hold a USSF A license. It is understood that many coaches do not currently hold the desired minimum license; therefore, some coaches are provided additional time to meet the minimum requirements with the new U.S. Soccer license structure.


The Academy provides the appropriate game to rest ratio and players will not be allowed to play simultaneously in the Academy and in outside competition, e.g. scholastic soccer. The Academy will maintain a 10-month program schedule to provide players with the optimal everyday environment.

How does someone join (or tryout for) an Academy club?

Anyone interested in playing for a Girls' Academy club will need to contact the club directly for specific information regarding the player selection process. The Girls' Development Academy firmly believes that the traditional open tryout is a highly flawed and ineffective model for player identification and evaluation. The expectation is that Academy clubs move to using a more systematic scouting model to identify and recruit new talents and invite these players to trial for an extended period with the current player pool. Clubs may not charge a registration fee for tryouts, which includes fees for equipment, apparel or etc.

Club contact information can be found on the Academy website at

How many players are on a roster?

At combined age groups, players are encouraged to play up. Clubs will have a number of players that they will move freely among age groups within their Academy program, depending on the developmental needs of the indvidual player. The projected pool would equate to 16-23 players per age group for a maximum 92 full-time players amongst the four age groups (U-14, U-15, U-16/17, and U-18/19).

Scheduling and League FAQ's

What are the substitution rules?

The rules governing games in the Girls' Development Academy match the rules that govern soccer games around the world (FIFA). For example, allowing substitutes to re-enter a match, which is common in high school, club soccer, and collegiate soccer, is not allowed anywhere else in the world, thus the Girls' Academy will align with the rules governing the world's game.

How many games are played and how long is the Academy season? How many showcases are hosted per year?

Each Academy team plays approximately 25-30 league games, with an additional 6-9 games played at Showcases. Teams that advance from the Academy Playoffs could expect to play up to an additional 3 games. The season begins in September and commences with the Academy Championships in July. Clubs will break from league play for periods of rest (including inactivity due to weather), during a winter break (December/January) and/or following the end of the regular season (July).

How much are Academy clubs required to travel?

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

What does the Academy Program Cost for players and clubs?

U.S. Soccer covers many of the costs for clubs so they can reinvest these funds into their players. There are no referee fees for league games, showcases or playoffs. Clubs are not charged any event or showcase fees to attend. In addition, Clubs are provided with Nike Balls for training and games and receive POWERADE coolers and beverages among other corporate partner benefits.

The Academy strongly believes that no player should face a (financial) barrier to play soccer. Therefore, clubs are encouraged to subsidize costs for players in financial need. In addition, U.S. Soccer offers a scholarship program, open to any full-time Academy player, to assist players with covering Academy travel cost. For more information, visit the scholarship program page.

What costs can a player or club expect?

Clubs will only pay a flat registration fee for players and coaches. Clubs are responsible for all team travel expenses to their league games and events.

Will the divisional alignments be the same as the Boys' Development Academy?

The divisional alignments are determined based on the number of clubs and their geographical location.

Are the rules and regulations exactly the same as the Boys' Development Academy?

The Academy program has been developed over time to create the ideal everyday environment for player development. The Academy has continually grown and adapted over its 10 years of existence and will use key learnings and best practices for the Girls' Program. The vast majority of the current Academy rules and regulations will be the same. The Girls' Development Academy staff will create or modify any rules or regulations as deemed necessary.

For general questions, please contact the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Staff at