Planning a long-term journey

Guide 5 - 11

Most of the young players you coach will not go on to make it in the professional game, but many will benefit and grow from the coaching they’re given.

However, this won’t happen unless you give your long-term plan some consideration.
Asking volunteer coaches who are already busy to spend more time thinking and planning could be unrealistic with the demands of perhaps holding down a full-time job and coaching a junior team.

So at the bottom of this article there's a plan which gives the coach something to work from over the long-term. This plan is perfectly in line with the players’ stages of development as young children and the Foundation Phase DNA.

Character is a journey, not a destination

- Bill Clinton, former president of the United States

There are a number of ways to present a technical programme, but it has to have the facility to be broad enough to give real direction yet contain sufficient details to meet individual needs. The ideas for what this might contain are included in our 'Technical corner DNA plan' for players in the Foundation Phase.

The plan covers the three phases of the game:

  • In possession
  • Out of possession
  • Transition.

It also includes suggestions about what players need to develop over the six or seven years they’re in the Foundation Phase. There shouldn’t be a rush as vital things can be missed out or only developed to a very superficial level.

A coach sat on the pitch with a tactics board, asks a question to her group of female Foundation Phase players.
It's important for you to cover the areas that will help your players develop, no matter where their journey will lead them.

Each statement in the hexagons gives a clear indication of what should be developed whilst allowing you some individual creativity as to how this might be achieved.

One of the hexagons in the ‘stay on the ball’ section of ‘In possession’ says the player “is prepared to ‘hide’ the ball when under pressure, securing possession until a positive opportunity arises”.

If a player already does this quite well, then they might be working on another hexagon, for example: “explores ways to eliminate opponents with steals, dribbles and passes”.

This means that within the same game-like practices your players can be given individual challenges that meet their own development needs and are in line with the England DNA. This is a great combination.

However, there shouldn’t be a rush to complete each and every hexagon. In fact this would be nigh on impossible, but this plan could easily stay with your players into the next phase of their development and give you real clarity of direction for your work with them. This will give each player the opportunity to reach their full potential, wherever this takes them.

We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started

- Henry Ward Beecher, american minister

If attention and time is given to each part, this plan will provide a clear direction for each player, but it’s not prescriptive. It allows for different priorities at different times; it allows for individual players to be challenged and it allows the coach to be creative in how they meet the requirements outlined in the plan. This means that each player’s journey is bespoke, giving them exactly what they might need in order for them to develop and grow in line with the England DNA.

This will act as a DNA framework to help you meet your players’ individual needs and is a huge step towards implementing the DNA long-term, giving you a really clear vision for the journey you would like to take your players on.

To learn more about Foundation Phase DNA, click here.

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