“Like most invasion games football is a simple game to play but complex when taught. Though the aim of the game is to simply place the ball in a goal which is deep in the opposition territory, the top players must be agile and fit and possess high levels of technical ability” Alan Launder.
For many years now most notably in England, the traditional ways of coaching youth football have been to first teach the skill and then play. What this has meant for football in this country is that not enough players are being produced with tactical awareness and decision making skills compared to rest of Europe. However, a tactical games approach offers football coaches a different way of coaching youth football. This approach focuses on developing the learners understanding of the game first then how to apply the skills within a game. This approach has been in place since the early 1980s which show partial evidence that teaching tactics in modified situations before teaching skills will transfer the most to actual game situations (Silverman, 1997).
Since the games for understanding model was introduced by Thorpe & Bunker (1982) it has generated extensive research interest because of how it can facilitate various aspects of teaching and coaching. The tactical games approach has the potential to, (a) aid the development of technical skills, (b) encourage the development of tactical knowledge; (c) assess the tactical transfer across games and, (d) to produce ways of assessing game performance (Turner, 1996).
In this post, we will explore other aspects that are important for developing creative youth football players.
” In order to teach good decision making it is important to teach key concepts within game situations” Stephen Mitchell.
Choosing Your Style of Play!
For many years, coaches have been jumping on the next new style of play and focusing all their efforts trying to ‘copy’ the exact style. Now there is nothing wrong with stealing ideas from other coaches, in fact, I promote it but you cannot expect to see your players playing the same style of football.
When coaching youth football players you will need to develop your own style of play. When developing your style of play a coach should first focus all their efforts in producing players who are skilful enough to play it. This doesn’t mean focusing on attacking players but all players having high levels of skill.
“It is vitally important that high levels of individual skill should be availible from all positions – the more the skills availibe; the more the playing options become avalible throughout the team!” John Cartwright
A coach shouldn’t just focus on either playing a short or long passing style of play. As coaches, we should look to develop a good mixture of both because this allows our youth football players the chance to play either short or long depending on the circumstances of the game. This is where the player’s decision making comes into practice. Player’s with good decision making and high levels of skill should be able to adopt either playing style and implement it in the game.
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A Youth Football Player's Role!
A coach should never restrict a young football player to one position on the field throughout their playing career. Youth football players must be developed to play in different positions to increase their understanding of the game.
Have you ever wondered why players from other Europian countries seem to find it easier to play in different role's or positions than English players? When it comes to the English national side, we cause an uproar if one of our players are in a different position or role to what they are used to but it is a normal occurrence with other national sides.
Let me make it clear that we cannot expect players to be comfortable in every position but they should be multi-functional and able to play in at least 2-3 different roles if required. This allows the team to adopt different styles if required not limiting your side to one playing style.
"Young talent must be developed to play different game-styles with differing positional roles to increase their understanding and all around playing quality" John Cartwright.
Development First, Winning Second!
It is understandable why many youth coaches lean towards coaching to win a game rather than coaching to play the right way. Coaches find it easier and less risky, often deploying tactics which hinder the player's development such as forcing them to play it long at every opportunity or always giving the ball to the best player.
Encouraging your player's to play well will create more mistakes in the game but it will also show the coach new solutions to old problems. Playing to only win the game means you restrict your players to already known skills that are important for winning (kick and rush, pressing etc) (Wein,2007). This will only limit your player's long-term development, nullifying their skill and creativity.
"Winning is only a consequence of playing well. That is why every player has only to try to give his or her very best. The result will fall like a ripe fruit falls from a tree" Horst Wein.
It is important to have an idea of how you want to play the game. When you have a vision you can create the steps to achieving your vision. This will help create your football curriculum that should help accelerate your football player's progress.
In order to create great football players, we have to be prepared to take risks. Our young players also need to learn in an environment which will allow them to play with expression to unlock their full potential.
It is very hard to know where a young player's best position will be when they become an adult. It is important that a coach gives his or her player's the opportunity to experience different positions to broaden their understanding of the game.
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