We create a positive and enjoyable learning environment which prioritises skill development, decision-making, fundamental movement skills and experimentation is crucial for young players in this age-group who are learning how to play. Young players shouldn’t be benchmarked against adult professional players.
We encourage players to:
- Be creative and take considered risks in both practice and games.
- Make some of the decisions, letting them know that their opinions count too.
- Develop their game-understanding by rotating positions during practice and games.
- Find solutions with minimal support from coach.
- Explore, question and foster their natural curiosity and imagination.
- Develop their agility, balance, co- ordination and speed.
We create an environment where:
- Players are given the chance to play a ‘game’ during every practice session.
- We aim to give all children equal playing time on match-day wherever and whenever possible.
- Challenges are set to encourage learning.
- Practices replicate the demands of the ‘game’ as much as possible, giving lots of opportunities to practice different aspects of the game (shooting, dribbling, tackling, passing, goalkeeping), in context.
- Goals are used to help players’ enjoyment and motivation.
- Small-sided games on appropriate sized pitches provide young players with opposition, decision- making and challenge, all of which help their skill development.
- Emulate the game situations through a series of different scenarios (1v1, 2v1, 1v2, 3v2 etc.) and a variety of these game-like challenges during practice sessions.
- Players should be 70% of the training session in contact with the ball.
Coaches shall consistently try to:
- Prioritise a positive learning environment, ensuring methods and content are made appropriate to the age and ability of the players in this age-range.
- Reinforce learning focus from practice sessions on match day.
- Set players specific challenges that link to the theme of a recent practice session, which can be discussed at half-time and after the game
- Allow all players to experience success.
- Remember that young players don’t enjoy being shouted at, having their mistakes highlighted or having to stop playing the game to listen to the coach talk at length.
- Consider how their decisions will impact upon a young player’s self-esteem, motivation and enjoyment of the game.
- Praise effort and positive behaviour as well as good play.
- Ensure that children enjoy playing the game, young players should not miss out on the opportunities to learn and fall in love with the game.
- Avoid letting the children’s arena become dominated by adults and imposing unrealistic adult expectations on young players.