As the Games Begin – Insight into the Player Development at Fremont YSC

Hello everyone,

This weekend is the main first week of the season, with most teams having their first games of the season. The following information will support your understanding of the development pathway for the players, and a useful resource to guide you in both the short- and long-term development.

Sadly, for many players, the games are a stress inducing outcome event, with the adults influencing the players in relying on the outcome (result) as an indicator of rate of development. At Fremont YSC our focus is development, where definition of success is not game outcome or league position, but the development of players in reference to a development pathway, and the nurturing of the whole player. A player’s development is non-linear and will be influenced by the four pillars of development (technical, tactical, physical, and psychosocial). These are not independent structures, they are all connected, influenced by each other, and individual to the athlete.

Psychosocial Pillar (Behaviors and Values)

This drives our culture; all club members, representatives, staff, and players, are responsible for upholding the values and behaviors, and must behave how they expect others to behave. While periodized into learning phases, the values and behaviors should be present in each phase, but with specific reference to their age appropriateness. See the following link on our behavior and values, and to make sure you are upholding the culture of Fremont YSC

Technical / Tactical Pillar

Each development phase has its own separate objective, to provide guidance along the development pathway of the individual player, with performance indicators as benchmarks through the phases. These performance indicators are what informs the player evaluations. These provide short term goals within a long-term framework.

Foundation Phase (U9 to U12): the objective here is to optimize the individual playing elements to provide a foundation for later advanced techniques, and to be able to execute the football actions in reference to the game model. Coaching objectives here are the individual footwork foundations, and individual player elements. Assimilating this to the game scenarios of weekend games, we frame the game as an opportunity to perform the foundation performance indicators, in 7 v 7 this is through playing centrally in the 1-2-1-2-1, this provides a high number of individual duals which are critical for player development. 9 v 9 we continue to focus on the individual foundations and player elements, but now introducing width from FB’s getting forward, and introducing the sub-principles (playing elements). The player must feel freedom to make mistakes and learn from experiences, with joy-sticking and negative comments from sidelines being detrimental to the players experience (joy-sticking is autocratic demands for players to perform actions you desire, making the decision for the player).

Development Phase (U13 to U16): in line with the players cognitive development to be able to take dynamic and complex situations and find solutions, we now start to introduce more tactical understanding. This being the introduction of the game principles (playing concepts and objectives). In full 11 v 11 and using the 1-4-3-3, we play in multiple lines and offering passing channels at angles. The system supports the concepts and objectives. The ability to perform the foundation phase performance indicators supports the performance of game principles. Within the constructivist learning theory, the game acts as opportunities to experience moments, and learn from those experiences. As coaches we are there to guide and question, offering the level of support needed for the level of challenge (scaffolded learning).

Performance Phase (U19): With a game model that is a top-down vision, with a bottom-up framework, the constructivist nature of learning, empowering of players to be decision makers, and a scaffolded approach to levels of support to accept failure as a learning opportunity, players are in a position to perform within an identity. The earlier short term development pathway gives us the direction to destination of long-term development in reference to a game model. The game model is our IDENTITY.

We firmly believe in the need for early age sampling of multiple sports, and soccer is not an early specialization sport as many players will drop and not develop a well-rounded skill set and motor competence (see presentation on Early Specialization). However, there must be a direction towards a long-term outcome, with short term objectives, with players being supported to become individuals within a team framework. As mentioned, this is not linear, and players will experience many challenges, from early and late maturation, effects of peak height velocity, and the environment they are in. No two individuals are the same. Player’s jersey numbers represent when in the year they are born, and this is to draw attention to the relative age effect (a combination of above factors), and players must be viewed upon individually at the youth level, and not identified or critiqued based on the team outcome.

What is Success?

The success of Fremont YSC is the interconnected relationship between the culture and playing identity, in coaching towards high performance at U19. This only achieved through the development at age-appropriate stages in the four pillars of psychosocial, physiological, and technical, and tactical structures.

Success is not the win/loss ratio in foundation and development phases, it’s not the cups and league brackets being played in; it’s the optimizing of the pillars of development in short term objectives, to reach a high-performance long-term goal, and supporting the individual holistically in being a good human being.

If any of this does not make sense, you have questions, or challenge the philosophy, make sure you reach out to me. It is my role to help support you in understanding and offer deep learning around the coaching process and player development. We should all be lifelong learners, don’t be afraid to not know something, seek the knowledge you need.