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Systematic Structured Development

Professional Football Development


SSD Principles

There are currently 84 Junior SSD Principles - the following is a small example.

SSD   Early v Late Development

History tells us that it is mainly the late developers who become the most skilful players, but because a lot of them have been discarded at an early age (told that they are not big enough or were allowed to be intimidated by over-developed players) then we lose them along the way because of poor (not existent) professional development coaching. Only a small minority, the ones who are mentally strong enough to withstand the added pressure, manage to hold on and beat the system - hence, why we end up with a majority of less skilful but physical players in our leagues.

In the eighties and early nineties most of the English international schoolboy players were all over-developed for their age, yet most of the top professional players at that time had never made international schoolboy level - and that is because they were all late-developers!

A top Dutch youth development coach summed it up quite nicely when asked why they kept losing to the English youth teams:

"The England team is full of over-developed youngsters who play the physical game and their main emphasis is set on winning as a team. Only about 5% of these players will eventually go onto become top professionals. Whereas, our players are selected on their level of skill, not physical stature, and these matches are just part of their development process as individual players. On average about 20 to 30% of our youngsters will go on to make the grade professionally"

SSD   Individual Genetic Make-Up

Every person has a separate and unique gene pool which determines individual limitations and performance levels, the majority of which are passed down through your parents (example: fast or slow twitch muscle groups, ace gene, bone density), and from a broader perspective, you must also consider cultural background - the Brazilians consistently produce slim, agile, well balanced individuals with outstanding eye-foot co-ordination skill; the New Zealanders produce tall, muscular, natural rugby players; the Dutch are the tallest nation in the world, so they don't have the same problems as the UK with under-development.

So, passion, practice, commitment, and using the best coaching techniques in the world is not enough, if they haven't got the right genetic make-up, then no matter how much you try, you will never turn Rod Stewart into the next George Best.

Nature is what you are born with and nurture is what you can learn and develop through good coaching - if you have the right genetic make-up!

SSD   Character Development - Genetics and Peer-Group Pressure

Although broad generalisations can never be made, it is believed that 30% of our character is inherited, and another 20% is developed through parental guidance up to the age of 6. Between the age of 6 and 12 an additional 30% is developed through peer group pressure - early school experiences, the influence of friends, living environment, football coaches, etc. Therefore, by the age of 12, a child can have up to 80% of their character already in place based upon inherited traits and exposure to positive and negative influences.

SSD   Physical and Mental Fitness

If not physically fit then it will affect your mental capacity - tiredness and loss of concentration!

If not mentally fit then it will affect your physical effort - desire and commitment

SSD   Growth Spurt

Youth coaches will come across the teenage 'Growth Spurt' stage, which contains a whole new set of problems:

"Parts of the body suddenly outgrow others for certain periods of time, and unless monitored carefully, and individually programmed for (allow the other parts of the body to catch-up), it can cause serious long lasting damage".

All youth coaches must familiarise themselves with the SSD Training Ratio (where training is cutback from age 12 to 16 to allow for the growth spurt) and also be fully aware of all potential 'overuse' injuries such as Osgood Schlatters and Growth Plate. If suspect a growth injury or problem then you must withdraw that player from training immediately and seek professional medical advice

SSD   Progressive and Regressive Coaching

If provided with structured coaching from an early age then young kids develop on good technique and habits, which in turn, enables pro youth coaches to automatically adopt a system of progressive coaching (move forward).

At present, they just receive a bunch of young players who have spent all their time under the competitive local league environment, where bad habits (over-reliance on the physical aspects, less importance on the key basic individual skills, rigid positioning, winning concept, etc) are sometimes so ingrained that the pro coaches have to take two steps backwards (Regressive Coaching) in order to take one step forward.

It is for this reason that age 8 to 11 should be the crucial learning stage for all the basic key individual skill elements, and by age 11, they should be fully competent across the full range so that the pro coaches are in a position to progress their standards further.

SSD   Creative Coaching

Most old style coaching manuals provide 'rigid' procedures, but SSD is all about assessing each individual situation as it arises and then being adaptable. There are lots of different ways of achieving the same objective, so the SSD Manual just acts as a framework for you to build upon:

There are hundreds of exercises and tips in other books and on the net, so pick some out and try them. If successful, add them to YOUR training manual, if non-effective, then bin them and try something else! Be innovative and inventive by creating your own exercise routines.

The ultimate aim is to have several different exercises and routines for each skill element - understand your kids - prevent boredom - make it fun by finding what they like - and achieve your objective at the same time.
Remember - Coaching manuals should only act as a guideline, not as a bible.

. . . . at the end of the day it is all about re-thinking your approach to coaching.

Gone are the days of kick and run football and the more physical you were the more likely you were to succeed.

The game has moved on - today it is all about developing natural abilty and possession - and this is where a lot of British coaches struggle: - they were brought up on the old style physical game and when the pressure is on they revert to sort, long ball tactics and aerial combat - the successful ones are those who can embrace change.

Look at the top clubs in England - who plays the attractive entertaining football and who adopts the physical and long ball approach?

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