I am often asked what young players, aged 9-12 should focus on. The effect of role-models is very important at this stage of development. Young players should seek out role models and identify players and teams to follow. Young players should also begin to transition from being self-centered to being self-critical. This is the “golden age of learning” and the most important age for skill development. This is also an important time to start to understand basic principles of play.Read More
In the future the best players will be those who can excel in a fast paced environment. There will be even greater demands on technique, tactical understanding and physical conditioning. Players must have fun and enjoy the learning process. The premise that players develop faster and experience more enjoyment in small side games is universally accepted and proven.Read More
As performance coaches, we are always looking at the secrets of success for the world’s greatest players. What made them the players they are today and how can the young players of today learn from their experiences as they progress down their own development pathway?
Hard work is a constant theme! There is no substitute for this and it is an element that many young players overlook. While players like Ronaldo make the game look easy and execute complex skills effortlessly, young players have not seen the sacrifice, struggle and hours of deep learning that have been responsible for their success.
One of the greatest impediments of youth development in sports is the pressure placed on young players, by coaches and parents. One of the greatest pieces of advice that I can pass on to young players is enjoy the game (it is a game) and focus on improving your skills.Read More
Several studies have confirmed that the number of hours of “deliberate practice” play a greater role in the development of young players that go on to play at higher levels, rather than innate talent. A positive linear relationship was found between accumulated individual plus team practice time and the level of skill when a group of international, national and provincial players were assessed.Read More
In the modern game, it is the teams that are the most creative in the final third that have the most success. Teams do not necessarily have to have the most possession to win games (Leicester City last year) but they do have to be successful at unlocking defenses. Creative players are the most valuable on the field as they are good in 1v1 attacking situations. These players are the ones who can go past opponents and take them out of the game to create overloading situations for their own team.Read More
The development of young players is much more successful when they understand what is required of them. I advocate that up to U15 young players tactical training should be restricted to developing awareness on the field. In effect, what space can be exploited and decision-making should be developed around what technical skills and movement should be used to exploit this space. Game formats should progress from 4v4, all the way up to the 11v11 game.Read More
A key consideration in lesson planning should be: “Will the players be engaged and enjoy the session?” That may seem like an obvious goal when coaches plan training sessions but on many occasions that is not the case. On many occasions training becomes “coach-centric” instead of “player-centric” and sessions are designed because they are “coach favorites” or are easier for the coaching staff to manage, rather than being effective for the players being taught.Read More
Training loads are an important element of athlete development. It refers to the structured process of the appropriate level of training in terms of frequency, duration and intensity. If training loads are managed correctly, then physical attributes such as speed, strength and endurance should be improved to improve performance.Read More