JPYS Academy
(Grades 1-2)


All 1st and 2nd graders play in the U8 JPYS Academy, the youngest division of Jamaica Plain Youth Soccer. The goal of the Academy is to to develop passionate and skilled soccer players by offering an inclusive, fun-first program focused on soccer education. The Academy was established to advocate the enjoyment of soccer and the patient development of fundamental skills. Academy players have the opportunity to develop their budding soccer skills while having fun under the guidance of experienced and volunteer activity leaders.

The Fall Academy season runs from mid-September to mid-November. The Spring Academy season runs from early April to mid-June. All practices and games are played at the English High School fields (on rare occasions, games may be moved to Pagel Field). See the JPYS Calendar for details about dates. The Academy is a mixed-gender program.

JPYS Academy Philosophy

The JPYS Academy is founded on three guiding principles:

  • Soccer for kids should be, first and foremost, fun. Many formerly enthusiastic young soccer players quit playing by the age of 13. The reason cited by the vast majority of kids who leave the pitch for good? “It wasn’t fun anymore.” A fun-first focus helps to foster ongoing passion for the sport.

  • Technique is key. At young ages, the developmental priorities should be: skill and confidence with the ball, stable and precise movement, and creativity and flair. These come through repetition, unending touch on the ball and uninterrupted play – both in technical activities and in small, tight games.

  • Free play leads to creative play. The best way to get better at soccer is to play soccer, freely and with little intrusion, in an environment where experimentation is encouraged and where mistakes can lead to new insight.

Program Structure

The Academy program dispenses with regular features of youth programs that prioritize winning over skills development. Players are not assigned one team or one coach, and game results and standings are not kept.

  • Age-specific practices. The Academy features age-specific practices and cluster coaching. Players are invited to attend either or both of two weekly practices where they work with community coaches and parent volunteers. Players are grouped into clusters that are roughly broken down by age, but will change over the course of the season depending on the development of the player. Practices follow a curriculum that is age-appropriate and aligned with developmental programs from recognized clubs worldwide. Each session typically involves a period of intense technical training followed by small group challenges and small-sided scrimmages.

  • Weekend games. On Sundays, players are organized into teams as they arrive, and play games for an hour. Teams and games are organized to ensure that kids spend no time -- or next to no time -- watching from the sideline. Coaches and activity leaders will try to make sure the games are balanced in skill, but the team composition will change from week to week.

Games and scrimmages are 4v4 on small fields, with small goals, and no goalkeeper. Soccer rules are followed generally (no handling the ball or unsafe play) but restarts are by kick-in (no throw-ins or goal kicks) with the focus on keeping the play continuous and fun.

Our Promise

The JPYS Academy makes the following pledge to players and parents/guardians:

  • Kids will play a lot of soccer. Crisply organized practices provide more time on the ball; the structure of weekend games provides more playing time. Overall, kids have more ball contacts and confront more real soccer situations, which are the foundations of development.

  • Kids will enjoy consistently good instruction. The coaching ensures that all kids have access to and are guided by experienced and resourceful coaches. And it ensures that less experienced coaches continue to progress in their learning and development. The end result? Players enjoy stimulating and valuable practices and encounter a coherent, well designed progression of soccer teaching through the U8 to U10 levels.

  • Kids will be free to play and to have fun playing. The player-centered approach puts the emphasis on enjoyment and consistent development during practice and on freedom and soccer smartness during weekend games. The pressure to “get a result” in the weekend game is minimized as is the pressure to perform that often comes from well-intentioned but misguided coaches and parents.

Volunteer Opportunities

We're always looking for volunteers, either parents or members of the community, to act as Activity Leaders during Academy practices. Some experience playing and/or coaching is welcome, but not necessary. Volunteering to help out on the field is a lot of fun, a great way to help kids learn the sport of soccer, and a great way to give back to the community. We provide training for all volunteer Activity Leaders. If you're interested in volunteering, please contact us at Read more on our Volunteering page.