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Academy Playing Philosophy

 “To develop technically proficient and tactically astute players who understand the game and make excellent decisions; who demonstrate a winning mentality and passion for improvement through work-rate and commitment; and who are physically capable of meeting the demands of the game, by providing an engaging and challenging learning environment where players can express themselves without fear of failure.”

  • In Possession, we aim to develop players who are to be comfortable with a possession based approach, where the team will look to try and play out from the back in a coordinated and controlled manner and is developed through the thirds in order to produce goal-scoring opportunities when possible
  • Upon gaining possession, players will look to recognise opportunities to play forward where possible but not at the expense of losing possession
  • Out of Possession, players will look to defend from the front higher up the pitch as a preferred option, or to drop and establish a compact defensive shape when unable to do so
  • Upon losing possession, players will look to immediately regain possession quickly by putting pressure on the ball as a preferred option to prevent the opposition gaining secure possession
  • Above all, our teams are expected to display a competitive and winning mentality – winning games is of importance however this is not at the expense of the playing philosophy

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Foundation Phase

Within the Foundation Phase the Academy playing philosophy will be consistently adhered to. The u9s – U12s age groups will predominantly focus on technical development incorporating decision making and consideration for basic principles of play. The u9s and u10s squads will generally play in a flexible 2-3-1 formation whilst the u11s and u12s will play predominantly in a 2-4-2 formation with players encouraged to rotate positions. The u12s will also experience playing a variety of formats (9v9 and 11v11).

 Youth Development Phase

 The u13s – u16s age groups will focus more toward tactical understanding and technical refinement. Players will still be required to have an understanding of a range of positions but as they progress through this phase should begin to develop a primary position within the team. Within the YDP, age groups can adopt a range of formations based on the needs of the player but typically will be systems which utilise a back 4 (variations of 4-4-2 or 4-3-3). The key aspect regarding formations is that they are to be used as a guide, with the style of play being aligned to the Academy playing philosophy being the paramount consideration more than the system itself.

 Professional Development Phase

 Within the Professional Development Phase, players will be exposed to an environment where points and league positions will become significant. Learning to win will become a key element of their development in preparation for progression into the first team, but with the focus still being to develop players within our framework and not just results.

 Our preferred model of play is still aligned to the Academy playing philosophy but also whilst recognising how to adapt when necessary based on the needs of the game. There will be a greater consideration for managing the game and adapting based on the scenarios presented by the opposition – as would be the case at first team level.

 Within the Professional Development Phase, players will be required to have a detailed understanding of their primary position within the team within a variety of formations to aid their development (4-4-2; 4-3-3; 3-5-2). All systems will be flexible and have been chosen to replicate the systems of play and formations that the Senior Professional Development Phase/First Team use and as such may change as a result of current first team practice to ensure alignment between the senior squads and the u18s.

 Academy Coaching Methodology

 The environment is fundamental to our program. We aim to create a ‘Performance Playground’ – an environment which is challenging, engaging and educational, where individual players will be exposed to play based sessions to challenge their technical and decision-making skills whilst encouraging creativity.  Coaches should focus on fostering a Growth Mindset’ by praising and reinforcing positive intentions, effort and model behaviours over results and outcomes.

 Delivery will take place with an adherence to the desired coaching format through innovative realistic practices and small-sided games. Coaches should focus on principles of play and not set patterns. Players should be able to problem solve and come up with a variety of ways to achieve an outcome and it is therefore important to provide players with opportunities to do so within the practices. Learning objectives should be evident and communicated to all players allowing a focus to be placed on the session. At all times coaches should be aware of the training objectives and the need of the player to provide appropriate feedback to both the individuals and the group as required.