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Systematic Structured Development

Professional Football Development


Grass Roots Report 1995

The original Report was 500 pages in length - so this is only a brief outline of the content.

The Underlying Problems

A total of 35 different areas/concerns were outlined, including . . .

# Unlike our continental counterparts we do not have a professional development programme in place to bring through our naturally gifted young players - we are still relying on the old style self-development processes (the street game, local leagues, PE lessons, etc), all of which have been in decline for a number of years - children now play a lot less football than in previous years - on average, 70% less than in the 1960's.

# The FA have a single coaching course where one style fits all, from 5 year olds to 45 year olds - we must introduce a new course for specialist child/youth development coaches.

# All of the money spent on youth development is going into the upper tier of the game, professional clubs, and not towards the real grass roots level - playing fields, mass coaching of kids, local facilities, etc.

# The official FA coaching manual specifically highlights the benefits of the direct long ball game and belittles any attempt to adopt the modern style possession approach - the game has moved on and players have to now be more adaptable - flexibility, not rigidity!


A number of recommendations were put forward for each specific area of concern, the main one being, the introduction of a new professional system of structured youth development (academies and feeder systems) - if allowed to continue as at present, in the near future, we would begin to see a large influx of young foreign players coming into our league structure.

As part of this report I attached a new system for consideration - SSD (Systematic Structured Development).

Definition of SSD

A set of basic principles and concepts which allow for the efficient control and management of a professional football development training programme; incorporating continental style coaching techniques and a step training process (individual programmes for each category) - culturally and structurally adapted for British players.

SSD There is no one perfect system - and no one person has all the answers - but you MUST accept the need for change and to move forward. What worked yesterday, may not necessarily be effective today

SSD No one system fits all. You can review systems used by others - but you MUST then adapt them for your own cultural needs and requirements. All cultures are different, so look at young British kids, and decide - what is best suited for them

Basic SSD Principles - Junior Level

# Provision of Regular Weekly Training (all-weather surface)

# Operate under strict Codes of Practice (coaches, parents, players)

# Provide a Safe and Controlled Playing Environment (making football fun and safe)

# Remove the Over-Aggressive and Bully Approach (allows natural ability to flourish)

# Improve General Fitness Levels (you enjoy physical tasks more if you are fit)

# Interaction (multi-school/areas - new friends)

# Parental Involvement (parents make the best child coaches)

# Structured Development - Step Training Programme (see SSD Concepts & Training)

# Specialist Continental Style Development Techniques (enhancing basic key skills)

# Foundation Based Skills (the 3 R's of football)

# Balanced Training Programme (balancing effort and rest)

# Encourage Self-Practice (a training session is not sufficient - practice at home and at school)

# Coach Knowledge & Understanding - The Development Needs of Young Players

# Coach Knowledge & Understanding - The Mental Coaching Requirements of Young Players

# Coach Knowledge - Injury Prevention & First Aid

# Child Protection (full parental observation of coaching at all times)

# Professional Advancement (ability players are given specialist training)

Initial Response to the Report

The clubs themselves strongly welcomed the changes proposed, and indeed, some of them employed me on a consultancy basis to immediately implement a lot of the SSD areas outlined.
However, the powers that be, strongly criticised the Report:

# Kids play the same amount of football today as they did back in the sixties

# We have the best coaching courses and coaches in the world

# We have the best youth development programme in the world

. . . there is no need for ANY change

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