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U-16 The Dedication Stage

The 4 Phases of Player Development – “The Dedication”

The Fervid Phase: The Dedication (U-16)

Development of individual skills – individual, group and team tactics:

This is a critical time in the player’s development. Many stop playing due to other interests, lack of success, shortage of playing opportunities, poor leadership or other reasons. Players tend to lack mental toughness and self-confidence. They tend to be self-critical and struggle with their desire to be competitive or need to be more competitive. There is a need for attention and security. A great focus on team spirit, leadership and discipline within the team.

Coach must be: Charismatic, experienced, knowledgeable, articulate, a disciplinarian, have managerial know-how, a thoughtful persuader.

Technique:

  • Skills should be mastered leading to artistry and improvisation, all under match conditions
  • Individual skill covered during the warm-up and/or in competitive situations
  • Increase technical speed. It is important that technique is still highly emphasized at this age.
  • Strike balls cleanly over distance with accuracy under pressure
Tactics:
  • Increase tactical speed (decision making)

Individual: Decisions based on thirds of the field

  • In attack: There must be an application of varied technical abilities in order to increase tactical options. There must be an aggressive attacking mentality in final third. Emphasis should be placed on predicting what the game will need next. Knowing what each player’s specific roles and responsibilities are lends to greater understanding of the big picture.
  • In defense: There should be a clear understanding of how the quality of pressure affects team defending success. There must be an ability to take options away from the attacker.

Small group: 4 v. 4, 7 v. 7, 9 v. 9

In attack: Players must understand the balance of needing possession and penetration. Continued work on combination play (wall pass, take over, overlap, double pass, third player running etc.). Playing for penetration and creativity in solving problems becomes important.

  • Mobility – movement without the ball
  • Crossing – picking out a runner rather than putting it in the box
  • Box organization – penetration, width and support for every ball played in the box
  • Attacking as a group of three (forwards, midfielders and defenders)
  • Set plays (80 percent success rate: where we get: 1) goal; 2) shot on goal; or 3) corner kick

In defense:

  • Compactness
  • Cover, delay, dictate and recover
  • Communication (who, what, when, where)
  • Defending as a group of three (forwards, midfielders and defenders)
  • Enjoy winning possession of the ball and dictating the play
  • Set plays

Team: Clearly defined team tactics, how the team decides to play as a group.

In attack:

  • Comfort with direct and indirect styles
  • Sustained possession as a means to break down the opponent’s defense
  • Understanding how to counterattack
  • Decisions based on thirds of the field

In defense:

  • Comfort with “high pressure” and “delayed high pressure” styles
  • Understanding of zonal and man-to-man marking play
  • Goalkeeper as the last defender
  • Keeping good team compactness
  • Stopping the counterattack
  • Decisions based on thirds of the field and different systems of play
System: The recommended system to expose players to various systems using a 3-4-3 and a 4-3-3.

Note: A great deal of coaching/teaching within 7 v. 7 and 9 v. 9 games.

Physical:

Fitness should take place with and without the ball.

  • Flexibility – static stretching after training/matches.
  • Dynamic flexibility – partner stretching
  • Importance of discipline for warm-up and cool-down
  • Agility – with and without the ball
  • Footwork – keeping the feet active when moving/playing
  • Endurance – Aerobic and anaerobic
  • Strength – Upper and lower body. Core strength and stability
  • Balance
  • Nutrition – Proper diet pre-game, post-game, at tournaments
  • Prevention and care of injuries
  • Importance of rest/recovery – schedule issues relative to the physical demands
Psychological:
  • Increased concentration
  • Leadership/player responsibilities
  • Discipline
  • Respect for the game
  • Goal setting
  • Vary program – satisfy players’ urge for competition
  • Establish pre-practice and pre-game routine (as individuals and team).
  • Encourage players/teams to watch professional and National Team soccer
The Game:
  • 11 v. 11

Click to read the other phases of player development
BackgroundPhase 1 | Phase 2 | Phase 3 | Phase 4

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