Image: GIS Player Development Pathway

GIS Player Development Pathway

Posted by Team, 24th October 2019

At the core of GIS’ mission statement is a deep commitment to player development. There is a method to our programs that (if followed) will support players on and off the field as they progress through life. What may look like just another soccer camp is part of a much bigger picture for players in the GIS pool.

It will often start with a local camp featuring coaches from the GIS Family of Professional Partners such as West Ham United, FC Schalke 04, RCD Espanyol, amongst others. It’s here where players are first exposed to the coaching philosophies of these professional clubs. The goals are simple: 1) Provide expert coaching and advice 2) Evaluate the best players to be selected for the National Camp.

It’s at this stage normally when the majority of players will be told they haven’t been selected. This is not smart for business, but it is necessary for our commitment to player development. In order for players to grow and continue to be challenged, they must be put into higher levels of competition against better players. The only way to do this is to be consistent in our messages related to selection against our criteria. Our hope is that these players take the lessons from the local camp and work extra hard to succeed the following year. No one likes to be told no, but it is the reality of the world and something we do not shy away from. These moments can be a huge learning opportunity for parents and coaches if approached in the correct way. Our favorite stories in our 15-year history are always about players who have attended our ID camps 2 or 3 years in a row and finally receive that invite to the National Camp. Ask any professional player in the world today what qualities are the most important and 90% of them will tell you the same thing – perseverance and resilience.

Just a follow up to say that I really enjoyed the West Ham United ID Camp and I am very interested in bringing it back next year.  I have had quite a few parents comment on how they wished they had signed up but were hesitant in fear of it being like the British Soccer Camp.  Their kids did not enjoy the British camp-style anymore and the parents did not want to invest in another camp with the same outcome.  But from word of mouth from a few other academy parents and then getting asked personally what I thought of West Ham camp, I am hearing regret from those parents.” – Dickinson SC

A GIS National Camp is an invitation-only camp event that features Academy Coaching Staff from a professional European Soccer club. In some cases, it is at least double the amount of training in comparison to the local camp and most definitely triple the level of intensity! Players from all over the US and Canada come together for 4 days of very high-level training. Many have called the GIS National Camps the best camps in North America because of the selective nature, facilities, and the quality of the coaching staff. During the National Camps, coaches evaluate players and place them in particular development trips that take place at the professional club in Europe. These trips are either the Academy Prospect, Elite, or Training Experience.

My son and daughter finished up the West Ham National Camp this week. The camp was very extensive as far as the complexity of footwork drills and the field drills. The coaches also helped the players keep a mental perspective of the game. The camp was very organized and well rounded.” – Julie O’Neal, Parent

The Academy Prospect Trip is a fully integrated training program at the professional club where players train with the full academy timetable amongst their peers. While this level should be the goal of any player, only the top 1% in all GIS programs will achieve this.

During [Nic’s] time with the Wolves, they got to train with Wolves’ Academy players their own age, as though they were Academy players themselves. They got to experience the high level of training and play, as well as the advanced skills, tactics, and techniques the Wolves’ players have achieved, as they pursue their dream of becoming professional soccer players.” – Chris Ford, Parent

The Academy Elite Trip is made up of the top 20-25% of players at the National Camp. On this trip, the players train at the professional club’s Academy and play matches against the Academy teams. In addition, a player has the potential to earn academy integration purely based on merit and their work ethic in the week.

Just returned home from the ChievoVerona Elite trip and am overwhelmed with respect and gratefulness to both GIS and CheivoVerona for such an amazing experience that my daughter Merritt Morine and I will cherish for a lifetime. The training was professional and exceptional. The care we received from the food and accommodation to the tours of the stadiums and Verona exceeded our high expectations. I highly recommend GIS and CheivoVerona to everyone. We could never thank you enough for this wonderful trip of a lifetime.” – Laura Morine, Parent

The European Training Academy is the most popular trip for players. It is entirely centered on player development and training with the professional club. The goals of this trip are to help players continue to learn the skills and techniques necessary to qualify for the elite trip next National Camp and to build the levels of perseverance and resilience required to succeed. GIS was founded on the principles that apply to this trip. Helping players to learn and focus on their individual development are the cornerstones of why we do what we do. Check out this player testimonial on how the European Training Experience help him.

Most amazing trip you will take! My son had the trip of his life. He learned a lot and their team beat a local affiliate team 5-3 so he was pumped! He loved the football and all the sights in London! Jacqui and Rae were the most amazing Chaperones! Top shelf!!!! Paul Heffer is a decorated Coach with a portfolio of players he has coached at the highest level. Lampard, Ferdinand just to name a few…. Any doubts about sending your child on this trip have to be removed!John Higham II, Parent

In addition, sometimes players are not quite at the level necessary to handle the training in Europe. Again, GIS does not shy away from saying no and this is another example of that. These players are always invited to attend the following year’s national camp and we hope our commitment to telling the truth is a motivator. Everything we do is set against the fundamental belief that all players can improve and our goals of ensuring that support is attainable with the right attitude.


At this stage, the goal for all our players should be to push themselves to achieve an invitation to the Academy Prospect Trip! It is a tall order and very challenging, but we have players every year that achieve that elusive invite. To aid in that journey, GIS offers various other programs throughout the year to help players continue to develop.

1. Long-Term Residential Programs
        • Opportunities Abroad: Train from 2-weeks to 9 months with professional clubs ChievoVerona or Malaga CF. This is a unique opportunity for high-level players to live life as if they were part of these European Academies and train alongside future professionals.
        • Opportunities Domestically: Train for 2-weeks in the summer with the professional coaching staff from West Ham United or Wolverhampton Wanderers at Darlington School Rome, GA. This is essentially a training camp to better prepare players for the National Camp.

2. Various Team Tour options
        • Attend a GIS Select Trip or organize a tour with your local club and train with the professional coaching staff of our Professional Partners. These are amazing opportunities to build team comradery and to expose the team to the coaching methods of these professional academies. 

3. Coaching Education Programs
        • Many coaches attend our summer National Camps to observe the Coaching Staff working with the various age groups. In addition, we take coaches every year to our professional partners to take part in coaching diploma courses. These are very beneficial and help create consistency between the GIS programs and the Local Club.

And of course, more is always on the way!

We truly believe that all of these programs and opportunities give players the necessary tools to unlock their full potential. But it is not lost on us that many of these programs also make for more well-rounded people. Our camps are often the first time a player has stayed away from mom and dad for a couple of nights. The residential programs abroad force players to handle being in a completely different country for months at a time. The cultural exposure of different countries, different languages, and different people force players to learn how to acclimate and appreciate differences they often aren’t exposed to. Being a great player is one thing, but we hear time and time again how our programs also help create great people which is the ultimate compliment.

Thank you as always for trusting GIS. We look forward to seeing you all on the pitch!

To take part in any of these programs contact GIS by clicking here or calling us at 770-545-8146.


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