As you can see from the diagram above, the Football Academy believes that the complete player is a result of a complex tapestry of physical, technical and tactical elements, all woven together by the psychological traits of the person.
Thus, we believe that in order to develop the player one must also develop the person. One cannot come without the other.
6 Week Cycles
Technical Cycles- the Core.
Our training programmes follow a number of 6 week micro-cycles, the first of which is what we have identified as being the technical core areas of soccer:
- Body Movements
- Comfort and Coordination
- Control and Passing
- Running With The Ball
- Shooting and Finishing; and
- Defensive skills
These 6 areas are trained in a progressive add on style cycle that repeats itself constantly throughout the 3 terms and again on holiday camps (a kind of review).
For techniques to become skills we also believe that decision making is vital. Therefore all techniques are constantly taught in reference to the game environment and students are expected not just to know HOW to perform a technique but also to know, WHERE, WHEN and WHY to use them. When playing with team mates communication becomes paramount also. This style of training where techniques are never isolated is what the Dutch famously termed T.I.C. This states that in order for training to have a carry over effect for the game all drills and small sided games MUST contain Technique, Insight and Communication (TIC).
This is just the start of our cycles, however…..
We also think that skills are better broken down in reference to the specific context in which they can be found during the game, so as well as cycling the skills we introduce in a logical manner, we also cycle these according to the different moments of a game.
For example, comfort, control and parts of running with the ball (shielding, turning) are most commonly to be found in possession moments, whereas, dribbling, combination passing and off the ball running are to be found in the breakthrough moments (and/or transition) and finishing and shooting skills are to be found in the execution parts of the game. Defense skills are broken down to meet the requirements of each of the attacking moment. For example, shape is taught to counter possession, pressure and recovery is taught in the breakthrough moments of attack and specific individual and team roles and responsibilities are introduced to prevent goal scoring chances in the finishing phase.
A further physical element underpins all of the above and turns our programme into what is called a Tactical Periodisation Programme. The 6 week cycles above are also adapted to follow a body’s natural energy systems development. For example, the first two weeks (comfort and control and passing, in the possession moment) will be continuous and slower and this ideally fits with the development of the aerobic system- we train for capacity. Weeks 3 and 4 will aim to develop aerobic (and muscular) power and strength. This will be in the form of shuttle type, acceleration/deceleration drills and ssg’s (as we enter the breakthrough phase) and the last two weeks will be devoted to peaking through the use of SAQ drills and related short, sharp exercises, that develop the ATP-PC, phosphate system. Obviously, the cycles are lengthened or shortened according to the length of a term or the specific dates of major events.
A final meso-cycle must be applied in each of the weeks, depending on the training days to ensure that the player is fresh for the Saturday (this is according to the amount of recovery time required for each type of activity- eg, 72 hours for heavy ATP-PC, sprint type training).
The Player Level Classification System
The Academy offers a kick-start programme called Happy Feet. This programme, aimed at the 3-5 age group, is the perfect warm-up programme for the Developmental Programme starting at 5. The focus of the Happy feet programme is object manipulation and familiarity, hand-eye coordination, basic balance and stability and various other associated GROSS motor skills developers.
The Developmental Stage is the next level up and is suitable for children aged 4-6 years of age. At this stage, students are taught a variety of drills and practices that develop a child’s fundamental FINE motor skills, such as balance, agility, coordination, spatial awareness and ball mastery. Though at this stage the body movements are non specific, the ball skills will now be more and more SPECIFIC to soccer.
The Player Classification System
Suitable for children aged 6-10 years of age. Once the building blocks of movement have been put into place, in the Developmental stage (hopefully by 6 years), students will move on to a diet of core technical skills. This includes basic passing and control, dribbling, shooting, tackling, keeper training etc.
Although the TECHNICAL element is strongly emphasised during this stage it is also important that the students learn basic TACTICAL considerations as well as crucial associated skills such as readiness, anticipation, reaction speed etc.
While it is hoped that students can move on from this level by the age of 8 it is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL they they do not move on before these basics reach a level of proficiency.
At this stage students need to attend a minimum of twice per week and every camp and clinic for which they are available as TIME and REPETITION are the keys to success.
Students can be ready for this type of training by 7 and even 6 years old, once they have shown proficiency in the core technical areas of soccer such as passing, ball control, dribbling and shooting. In reality children are usually ready by 9-10 years old.
The difference at this stage is that the focus changes from TECHNICAL to TACTICAL and skills are used in combination to achieve specific strategies like 3rd man runs and overlaps etc.
Any weakness in the core skills will prevent these combinations and strategies from working
Players should not enter this advanced stage until the core skills are at least proficient because very little time and space exists and players can easily lose confidence.
While age alone is not a determinate of suitability for students at this level, children should be technically, physically and mentally ready to perform complex technical and tactical skills while work under the pressure of having limited time and space.
COMPETITION and developing a Winning Mentality
At all ages students are encouraged to join friendly and competitive matches. By combining regular advanced training with suitably competitive matches, our players are placed on a conveyor belt of where time and repetition will ensure their success and because they are part of a structured and progressive Soccer Club this allows them to develop essential life skills such as competitiveness, team work, individual responsibility and mental toughness, characteristics that help them to achieve both on and off the pitch.
For the serious students, personal, one-on-one, training is available to take players to the next level. This very intensive style of training is specifically tailored to overcome weaknesses or to enhance already well developed strengths. Please apply to your coach directly for a consultation regarding suitability for this type of training.