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Joachim Prinz and Daniel Weimar

The youth training academy system in German soccer is examined. The chapter argues that the academy system acts not only as a long-term screening function (i.e. a long-term probation), but also has a training and development purpose whereby teams impart both general soccer-related skills to youth as well as club-specific skills, knowledge, and attitudes. From a recruiting perspective, the training academies allow clubs to gain private information about players, helping clubs to ultimately determine the quality of the club-player match. The chapter also identifies several impediments to effectively identifying the best youth players, including the continued long-term persistence of the so-called ‘relative age effect’.