U15-U18 Philosophy

U15-18 Player Development Philosophy 

The U15 - U18 program is catered toward players who have chosen to play soccer in high school, and for our most dedicated players, assisting them on their journey to college soccer. Players must take complete ownership of their development and be committed to excelling. With the progression from the fundamental development stages to the High School readiness program, each player and team will have the opportunity to completely mature and reach his and her maximum potential.

Our directors and coaches strive to create the most comprehensive personal and athletic developmental environment. Bend FC player development is influenced by the 3 “C’s” of Bend FC TOVO Methodology.  Every session, every communication, and every competition is designed to develop your child’s Cognition, Competence and Character. Let’s define them:

  • Cognition: Many people think that soccer is a game that is all about technique, but that is a misconception. Soccer is a game for thinkers. It is a game about understanding, finding and exploiting space in which every player must be able to do the following actions moment to moment:

    • Perceive the field around him/her

    • Conceive of solutions to solve the problem the game presents (Do I pass, dribble, shoot, step, drop etc?)

    • Decide upon a solution

    • Deceive the opponent if needed

    • Execute the choice with technical precision

    • Assess the choice and do it all over again 

As you can see, four things happen in a soccer game before technique, and these must be developed in your child. Training will reflect the cognitive demands of the game so that your child develops not simply technique (the ability to perform a move or action) but skill (the ability to deploy it in the game environment.) Practices will NOT have endless lines and cones; they will have defenders, decisions, direction and thousands of game-like moments.

  • Competence: In order for players to exploit the space they find, they need technical, tactical and physical competence. We train five areas of competence:

    • Ball control such as passing, receiving, shooting, dribbling, heading, as well as defensive techniques

    • Movement to develop physically, which includes strength and flexibility, core stability, and dual force activities that develop overall athleticism and help to prevent injuries

    • Position Play so that players first develop an understanding of positioning (do I need to create width, depth, expand or contract the space, play 360 degrees or 180 degrees, etc) and then specific positions on the field. 

    • Principles of Play refers to the moments of the game that players must understand, such as when we have the ball, when the opponent has the ball, moments of transition, and more.  We use TOVO’s fourteen principles of play

             -  Manage Oneself

                                   1. Perceive & Conceive

                                   2. Decide & Deceive

                                   3. Execute & Assess

                             -  Manage Space

                                  4. Create & Close Space

                                  5. Attack 1,2,3

                                  6. Pressure Quickly on Transition

                                  7. Organize Defense on Offense

                                  8. Defend 1,2,3

                              -  Manage the Ball

                                 9. Keep It Simple

                                10. Play What You See

                                11. Receive With Intent

                                12. Pass With Purpose

                                13. Keep & Move The Ball

                                14. Advance The Ball

    • Systems of Play refers to the formation we use in games. Players must develop competencies in all formations but our basic formation will be:

      • 11v11: 1-4-3-3 and 1-4-2-3-1 are primary formations for U13-14 players

  • Character: many athletes have talent that takes them to a place that their character cannot sustain. At Bend FC, we are dedicated to developing your child’s character that will not only help them become better soccer players, but more importantly, better people. Every day we will work to develop both their performance character (grit, resilience, competitiveness) but their moral character (respect, joy, integrity, diversity) through the beautiful game of soccer. 


Player Development and Movement:

ODP, ECNL, Private Training: What is the right pathway for my young Bend FC player

Our goal at Bend FC Timbers is to provide every player with the best opportunity to develop individually and within a team. We recognize that especially at the U15-18 ages, while many of our female players are fully grown or nearing physical maturity, some of our male players have not. The Relative Age Effect, which refers to the correlation between arbitrary age cutoffs in sports and the statistically high success ratio of kids with birth dates within a few months of those cutoffs, still affects many high school age athletes. In other words, children born in January through March are more likely to be identified as “talented” because they may be up to a year older than players born later in the calendar year. Team placement and movement is critical at this age, and most of our teams consist of mixed year groups, since that reflects their high school soccer experience. We are committed to giving every player every opportunity to train and play with players of similar ability. And as a club we will do our best to develop all of them as we see fit. To do so you will see the following:

  • Age group training: players within an entire birth year will all train together. This will happen often throughout the summer months as players come and go on family trips, and will continue at times during the Fall and Spring as schedules and time permits. 

  • Opportunities to train with higher level teams: Players will have opportunities to train with an older team and higher level team in consultation with coaching staff. Female players may be invited to train with boys teams at older ages as well.

  • Opportunities for extra practices: All Bend FC players are encouraged to develop through extra training through our TPA Program as well as winter training and futsal. There will also be opportunities at the discretion of coaches to make up missed or do additional practices with other teams in the club TBD on a case by case basis. 

  • Opportunities to guest play or move teams during the season: OYSA allows our players to be club passed, which means that players in our club are eligible to play with other teams in our club with some restrictions. This allows White team players to play with red teams, and red players to play up or even get minutes with a white team (after an injury, to build confidence, etc). From time to time, players may change rosters (decision made by the Coaching Directors, and Team Coaches in consultation with parents/player).

  • Playing Up a Year: It is critical in Central Oregon to balance individual player needs with team integrity, and ensuring that we have enough players at older age groups to form teams. Players, upon approval from their respective Program Director, are allowed to tryout for teams in older age groups. A tryout does not guarantee placement on any team or in any age group. Players may be placed on teams older than their birth year when: 

    • A player receives a recommendation from their birth-year age group coordinator or red team head coach.

    • The red team head coach in the older age group in question approves a player moving up to an older age group. 

    • The program director approves a player moving up to an older age group

  • Guest Playing Opportunities: Some of our players may be looking to attend different events that their Bend FC team does not attend, and we will do our best to facilitate participation in showcases, camps, etc that benefit an individuals pursuit of college soccer opportunities. Players should always speak to their coach about these opportunities and communicate well in advance, while at the same time doing your utmost to not miss scheduled team competitions if possible. 


Playing Time

Bend FC Players are guaranteed meaningful playing time in all league and tournament games. At the U15-18 age this is usually around 30% of minutes, since substitution rules are tightened at this age and players are not allowed to reenter a game in the same half they are substituted. At rare times (specifically 3-5 state championship games at seasons end) this might be slightly reduced for some players, but our coaches are highly encouraged to play every player meaningful minutes in every game. Playing time is influenced by a variety of factors, including but not limited to attendance, attitude and effort at training and games, physical readiness to play the minimum minutes, injuries, weather, etc. We always welcome conversation with team coaches and program directors if you feel this minimum is not being met. As mentioned above, additional training and playing opportunities are available for Bend FC players with other Bend FC teams in the same age group or similar age groups which may influence the minutes played in a game (ie. a player may only play 15 mins when playing up with an older team and then play his/her own game later that day). 


Positional Play

We aim to create the total player by allowing each Bend FC player to experience the total game. Players feature in a variety of positions at the beginning of their development and specialize in positions as they get older.

At the U15-18 age level, Bend FC players usually specialize in 2-3 positions, but still may be asked to try different positions as they grow and develop, and as different formations are used. Versatile players are highly coveted by college and high school coaches, so we may change a player’s position as needed.


Player Numbering System:   US Soccer has assigned different numbers to different positions on the field, so you may hear your child saying that they “played the 6” or “played the 9” instead of playing center midfield or striker. If you want to learn more about this system this is a great article that explains it.


Multi-sport Participation and Commitment to Bend FC Timbers

Bend FC Timbers supports and encourages multi-sport and multi-movement (martial arts, yoga, strength and conditioning) activities for our players. Developing overall athleticism is an important component of becoming a successful soccer player, and throughout the club history many of our players have been very successful multi-sport high school and college athletes. At the same time, soccer is a team sport and team commitment is very important at certain times of the year. For players who participate in multiple sports, if you are selected to a Bend FC team we ask that during the certain months soccer is your primary commitment, specifically:


Bend Premier Cup weekend: dates change each year

November 20-December 15: Fall college showcase event

January 15-May 7: OYSA Spring league and State/Presidents Cup

We understand that there is overlap at times with other sports and at those times our players/families are expected to communicate closely with coaches to arrange schedules, make up missed practices, and determine availability for games. During our non-peak months, players may miss training yet again, are expected to communicate with plenty of notice if they will be missing events, and do their utmost to make up missed practices. As we mentioned above, we have had many athletes be very successful multi-sport participants, and it all comes down to good communication.