Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Player Development Approach

Justin Wheatley is a UEFA B qualified football coach working with Chelsea FC, In this article he explains his approach to Player Development.

As a grass roots coach, having coached at many levels, and having held a few Development roles at local clubs I feel very passionate about player development!! As coaches we should be doing our utmost to help players reach their full potential.

Personally I think we need to change our systems and mentality toward development, and we need to develop ourselves as coaches. We should all regularly try and attend refreshers courses, swap ideas and training sessions with our peers, and even look for other coaches to be our mentors!

I have been involved in a research project, (which I am trying to roll out on a big scale (if you would like to be involved and would like more details please feel free to email me)) which has given me a great insight into how I believe we can help improve our players from a young age. Currently as you know, they start at 7-a-side at U7 and then move straight up to 11-a-side at U12. It's a big change from when I first started playing - I was 6 years old playing 11-a-side on a full size pitch with a full size ball, the FA saw the need for change and introduced 7-a-side, which is much better for player development - BUT I know we can still improve on this!!

What I would like to see is the following introduced:

U7-U9 playing 4v4
U10-U12 playing 7v7
U13-U15 playing 9v9
U16 upwards 11v11

Surely we should introduce 4v4 before going 7v7?? You divide a 7-a-side pitch in 2 and have two 4v4 running simultaneously side by side, after all U7s are meant to be non competitive.

At the younger ages this will mean more touches of the ball, more decision making opportunities, etc,etc - this can only be beneficial for everyone involved, we will start to produce players who are comfortable in possession, comfortable under pressure, etc.

Why is it that the girls go from playing 7v7 to 9v9 to 11v11, but we don't do this with the boys? I hear coaches saying it's a waste if time, but I beg to differ!!

When the boys first make the transition from 7v7 to 11v11 it can be very daunting - suddenly they are on a huge pitch and some players hardly touch the ball during the space of the game! Moving from 7v7 to 9v9 on 3 quarter size pitches with 3 quarter size goal is much more of a natural progression (it's still like the senior game with off sides etc).

All we need to do is look at our national team to realise that something needs to change, our European neighbours are all progressing so much faster than us!!

Would like to hear your comments or views on this subject??

Coach Justin


Coach Tim said...

Like your ideas Justin, I think it is time for change at the top.

The education is not making its way down to grassroots. We still have un-qualified, un-educated parents running tomorrows stars.

Don't get me wrong, some are giving up their time & very keen to offer opportunities to the kids but aren't qualified to do it.

Until people realise that the introduction age to football (whether that be 3, 4 or 5 years old) is the most important as this is when children fall in love with the game.

Needless to say their first introduction needs to be a positive one...unfortunately on too many occasions it is not & kids don't return. You only need to read one of my last Facebook updates in the last week to see what I mean!

But if more of us coaches start making a stand surely we can convert more people to the new way of developing kids through SSG's, good fun coaching using the ball & a friendly, fun relationship between coach, kids & parents!

Coach Tim
twsportsgroup (Facebook / Twitter / You Tube)

Justin said...

I couldn't agree more Tim. I get so frustrated when I go and watch a game on a Saturday morning, and see coaches barking orders at 7 year olds. Shouting at them for making mistakes!! Coaches need to offer encouragement to the kids, and move away from being results driven! We have to focus on development, but not only development of players, but development of out coaches too!!

I would love to see the system change and see the young ones playing 4v4, and have 9v9 introduced before 11v11

When will somebody in the FA listen to what we need?

Coach Justin

GT said...

Some great points there Justin and i like you progression.
I prefer 5v5 so that 4 players are on the pitch then you can still have keepers. Funny as it may seem some kids do love going in goal and as long as the goals are age appropiate then i dont see it as a problem.

It seems the F.A Future Game review is starting to look into a better approach but if you look at their proposals they are only doing 9v9 for under11/under12 then under13 onwards full size pitch and goals !!
Seems a strange progression/ decision to me.
The F.A also say they have consulted the grass roots but you speak to clubs, teams in our area and they dont seem to have been consulted! maybe i'm speaking to the wrong ppl.