The former England international describes his early football experiences; in particular the importance of fun and enjoyment through childhood and adolescence.
Each individual person and each individual journey is unique. This solely provides Michael Carrick’s personal reflection on what was important to him in his journey.
Throughout the Foundation Phase and Youth Development Phase, free play can be a valuable way for children to learn. Learning can be framed by a coach, but – as importantly – learning can also take place far more organically, driven by the learner's own curiosity. Players of all ages will arrive with different tendencies and develop uniquely, so we must embrace individualism, whilst helping them to understand their role within the team.
- Do you promote the importance of ‘play’ and does your coaching setting provide opportunities for child-initiated play to occur?
- How much is your coaching centred around the children and their learning and how much is centred around you as the coach?
- How do you embrace each individual's attributes, allowing them to flourish for the benefit of the team?
Watch Michael Carrick's reflections on his youth development in the video below:
Carrick grew up primarily playing small-sided games coupled with self-initiated play and practice at home, all through the Foundation Phase and into the Youth Development Phase. Often highly skilled players also have highly attuned noticing skills, meaning they can use their own self-initiated feedback and self-correct to aid their learning. Becoming more competent and making progress can help fuel enjoyment and motivation.
Although eventually known primarily as a ‘passer’, Carrick didn’t heavily engage in unopposed passing practices before the age of 16. Throughout the Youth Development Phase, he spent the majority of time regularly playing 5v5 indoor matches at Wallsend Boys Club alongside the more traditional 11 a-side football. Growing up with this mix of match formats, different surfaces and pitch sizes, provided a rich variety of experiences in which he – up to U18 – most often played as a striker or an attacking midfielder, before later starting to play deeper.
As a coach, consider the following:
- What are some of the negative effects coaches can have, if they intervene to correct players too often or too soon?
- How do you encourage young players to focus on developing their own unique strengths?
- What variety of formats and experiences do the players you coach currently encounter?
The purpose of this article is to provide one real-life example of a developmental journey in order to provide points of consideration when coaching players in the Youth Development Phase. Each individual is unique and it’s important to reflect on this in order to figure out what this means for you when appropriately coaching 12-16 year old children.