The development of young players is much more successful when they understand what is required of them. I advocate that up to U15 young players tactical training should be restricted to developing awareness on the field. In effect, what space can be exploited and decision-making should be developed around what technical skills and movement should be used to exploit this space. Game formats should progress from 4v4, all the way up to the 11v11 game.
Again, I do believe that it is the individual players responsibility to fully understand the demands of the role (s) that they are being asked to play on game days. If they are not sure then I would encourage them to ask the questions. At the very minimum, young players should understand their starting positions and how the demands of their role changes, based on whether their team is in possession (attacking) or out of possession (defending).
Included below are some templates that can help young players prompt discussions with their own coaches so that they can better understand their role (s). The key questions are:
· What is my starting position?
· What is my positioning when we win possession?
· What is my positioning when we lose possession?
· What are they key demands of the position I am playing?
Our examples are based on the 11v11 format and coaches do have different philosophies and styles of play. However, these templates can hopefully be a basis for discussion for all formats and styles of play. Coaches should be happy that their young players are taking a pro-active approach to fully understanding what is being asked of them in game situations. This can only help to accelerate the learning and overall performance of young players.