Once again, we at Strikers develop players in line with Football Australia’s National curriculum. We believe in the curriculum and believe it can be successful if implemented properly. Having said that we do add our own little bits of variety to give our players the edge they need to make the game easier and more enjoyable. An example of this is what ages we believe players fit into the age brackets. Our Association the MWFA has different field sizes for U6-U7s, U8s-U9s, U10s-U11s and 12s and up. As a result of this in order to give our players the best chance of enjoyment we have slightly changed the age brackets.
For our discovery age players (players in the U6-U7 age groups), we aim to develop and foster a passion and love for the game. We aim to do this as because we want players to become addicted to the game where they want to play every day. We achieve this by creating a fun-based training and playing environment. Not many kids can kick a ball against a wall for an hour to learn how to pass or shoot properly. So rather than promote tasks with low variation and high repetition that can get boring, we promote using small, sided games, fun kids games with a football element and activities with a high amount of involvement from every player all the time.
Skill Acquisition Phase
We believe that the skill acquisition phase (players in the U8-U11) can be broken into 2 sections. We believe in this method because as stated above there are different field sizes and player limits for U8-9s and U10-11s. However, across the whole phase we believe on gradually shifting the development goals from a purely fun based environment to one with more direct technical and skill-based environment. Do not get us wrong, there is still an emphasis on enjoyment but we believe we need to start teaching kids the skills to make the game as enjoyable as possible. The core skills that we begin teaching the ids are again kept in line with what the FA believes are the key skills in the game. These are
- First Touch
- Striking the ball
- 1v1 Att/Def
- Running with the ball
In the U8-9s bracket we believe the sessions and environment should still maintain a large element of fun-based sessions. Where players are engaged in majority of hidden learning-based exercises but with the addition of some basic technique mastery. At this stage it is important to also start teaching players how to play the game. What we have found is that there is a large amount of drop out in this age group across the whole association. We feel that is largely because football is deceptively hard game to play. There are not a lot of stoppages, there is a constant number of changing variables and the techniques used to be successful and enjoy the game are harder to learn. To help stem this we believe in trying to give our players the knowledge of what to do on the field. Concepts such as the importance of space and time on the ball things like that are sporadically start being thrown into the development process.
In the U10-U11s the shift towards coaching direct technical skills increases yet again as the field, player numbers and game length increases. Once again we also increase the amount of direct tactical knowledge passed onto our players whilst decreasing the amount of purely fun based exercises. This is because generally speaking the goals of players and teams tends to shift less towards just enjoying the moment of playing and more towards the result. Now, that being said its definitely not, nor should be all about the result. But at the same time playing and winning is generally more enjoyable than playing than losing.
Game Training Phase
Throughout the game training phase (Players U12-U18) we lose our purely fun focused football exercises and begin to implement our playing style on teams. Over the 4-6 year period of this phase we once again gradually switch the emphasis of our exercises and sessions from more technically based like in the phase before to more tactically based. We do this to keep in line once again with the FA’s National Curriculum that promotes this as this is the period in players development where they can better understand tactical concepts. As a result we begin to start teaching teams how to play “The Strikers Way”. The fundamental concepts we promote are how to
- Play out from the back
- Maintain possession in the middle third
- Create good opportunities and convert them
- How to counterattack
- The “Strikers Press”
- How to counter a counter
In doing so we hope to give players the skills required to have the greatest amount of enjoyment and success possible. Whilst providing an environment for players who wish to play at a high level the same technical and tactical skills that NPL clubs are looking for.
The Performance Phase is the final stop on our players development where it is hoped that players will go on to play for the top teams at the club such as the Men’s Premier League Team. In this phase the goal has very much shifted from pure enjoyment to achieving results, especially in the top teams at the club. It is hoped that by this stage players have the technical and tactical backing to be able to smoothly transition into the senior teams where sessions and exercises are based on fixing small, short term problems in order to achieve success in the next match.