Taking into consideration that the game is complex, football when compared with chess the difference is that a move in a game of chess can be made and there is time to ponder on the next move, football is based on “time, space and opponent” a mistake is costly in fact suicidal in terms of results. With this in mind and because of the nature of the game and its complexity our method of training is based on the “Maximal” concept meaning “learning by play’ encompassing the “Performance Factors” i.e. Technique, Tactics, Conditioning and Psychology and governed by a Curriculum and that is tailored to an LTPD (Long Term Player Development) plan.
The LTPD is very relevant to my vision as it addresses the holistic development of a player and with the Principle of Continuity demanded for outcomes. The LTPD is made up of four phases, namely “Learning to Train” for the 10’s to U12’s, “Training to Train” for the U14’s to U16’s and U16 to U18 “Training to Compete” and O18’s “Training to Win”. For the U6’s to U8’s football is an adventure and talent can be discovered as early as 7 years of age. Assuming a player starts at 7 and focuses only football over the next 10 years without missing any of the phases, his level will be positive, unlike one that starts and stops or comes into the game at the older age, his performance growth will be retarded.
The ingredients of the “Performance Factors” in each phase is based on specific age characteristics and his level of performance. Example:You cannot impose a technical warm-up exercise that is geared for an U18 player on a U14 player who will not be able to execute and meet tactical demands. Hence youth players should not be treated as professional players.
The priority within the “Performance Factors” is the key tool of the four, technique that must be developed within the complexity of the game, “rote” method of learning hinders ball expression and leads to the development of simplistic players, this method also does not allow for the brain to play an active part in the decision making. The bottom line is that if there is “no technique there can be no tactics”, supported by the football brain to know when to keep or release the ball.
The other Coaching Principal that the LTPD demands is that Training must reflect the Specifics of the Game, the ball must be ever present in all factors, there should be no running for running or passing for passing there must be an intention.
We have our Curriculum that reflects the LPTD of the four factors, which serves as a tool for our Coaches to prepare their respective Micro-Cycles and designing their session plans which is supported by the Technical Director’s Annual Marco-Cycle and with the flexibility to design sessions on the negatives highlighted from match analysis as well video recording of games and training sessions.
The intention is not to win accidentally or at all cost but with quality in mind. More importantly we have to realize the development is not an event but a process. One cannot say which seed will grow from a packet of seeds.
By giving appropriate exercises in relation to the culture and characteristics, age and level of performance as well as adopting the Principles of Coaching and adhering to the LTPD in association with the Curriculum will yield outcomes.