The Magazine

Dane Coles is arguably one of the world’s best and most dynamic rugby players. In the combative position of hooker, Coles regularly goes head to head with front rowers around the world in both Super Rugby and International Rugby and is a Rugby World Cup Winner. In this article, PDP Editor, Dave Wright spoke to Dane about his player development journey, not specialising too young, the types of coaches he responds to and the value of mental preparation in performance. Dane Coles grew up in a…

Eusebio Sacristan had a playing career at Barcelona alongside a golden generation and under the guidance of Johan Cruyff. He now manages Real Sociedad in La Liga, a big challenge but one he is embracing and enjoying. With the help of translator, Brooke Duder, Player Development Project caught up with Eusebio to discuss his journey as a young player and now top flight manager.

Ben Bartlett, Senior Youth Coach Educator at the Football Association, gives some fascinating real-life examples to explain the importance of aligning a team’s ideal model of performance with the capabilities and behaviours of its players and the practice of its coaching. There is a Japanese proverb, highlighted by James Kerr in his book ‘Legacy’, which states that “Vision without action is a day-dream; action without vision is a nightmare”. With this in mind, lecturer and coach developer Bob Muir proposed the model below, asking coaches…

The Feyenoord Academy, or Varkenoord as it is known in Holland as one of the premier developmental environments in the country. With famed graduates such as Robin Van Persie, Royston Drenthe, Jordie Clasie & Leroy Fer (to name a few) the club has won the Rinus Michels Award for best academy in the country multiple times.   Player Development Project was interested to know more about just what goes on at Feyenoord so we caught up with foundation phase coach and brain behaviour and learning…

The ‘Cupfinalseminaret’ in Norway provided PDP Editor, Dave Wright with an opportunity to gather the opinions of some leading Scandinavian figures. In this fascinating round table discussion on the women’s game, we talk leadership, psychology and coach/player development with Even Pellerud, Katrine Pedersen and Solveig Gulbrandsen.   In November Player Development Project was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Norwegian Cup Final Seminar in Oslo. It was a destination for coaches from all around Scandinavia to listen to some of the best in…

Steven Reid could be described as something of a journeyman in English football. However, with a career that now spans 17 years at the top level, 23 full international caps for the Republic of Ireland including the 2002 World Cup, Steven’s achievements are significant. With well over 200 appearances at English Premier League level, Steven is an example of a different generation of professional footballer. He came through the English system at a time when things were perhaps simpler, less professional and more about playing football…

Wesley Sneijder has gone from playing street football in the Netherlands to becoming a Champion’s League-winning superstar. We caught up with Wesley to discuss his development, how he has transitioned between football cultures on his journey, and what he believes best enables creativity to flourish. Wesley Sneijder has played for some of the biggest clubs and in some of the biggest games of the last 10 years including FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League finals. A graduate of the famed Ajax Academy in Holland, Sneijder broke…

In this article, resident positive psychology expert Lara Mossman looks at good character through a strengths lens, focussing specifically on two strengths, courage and caution, and looking at how these can be overused or underused in coaching. We often hear calls for good character in our young football players, but what about our coaches? After all, coaches influence their players in a multitude of ways (Lorimer & Jowett, 2014). Viewed positively, they can be great role models for their players and leave a lasting legacy….

Messi, Robben, Ronaldo, Sterling, Iniesta – these players, and many others, all have something in common. Not how much they’re paid, their on-field creativity, or their level of fame – it’s a key physical attribute of their game. Small steps. Running and movement expert, John Marsh examines natural running and what makes this so devastating on the football pitch. Over recent years there has been a large movement in endurance running circles called ‘natural running’ or ‘barefoot running’. It’s unclear from where this sudden trend…

PDP Lead Researcher James Vaughan poses the question to coaches: are we competing or are we collaborating? In this article, James discusses the concept of ‘water’ and its implications on an individual’s approach to coaching.   One of the most important questions you can ask as a coach is: Are we competing or are we collaborating? In fact, it’s one of the most important questions you can ask any group of people intending, attempting or pretending to work together. I’ll admit this is a strange statement…

Premature professionalism in youth sport is a growing problem. Environments created to replicate professional sport, ‘elite’ pathways at 8-years-old and coaches removing autonomy from the environment by exerting total control. In this article, PDP Editor, Dave Wright challenges the status quo and asks how we can break the machine that coaching is at risk of becoming. The world of sport is constantly evolving and new technology creeps into all sporting codes. Youth players wear tracking devices and GPS, while data can even now be captured…

PDP Co-Founder and psychology researcher, James Vaughan, explores creativity in footballers with a focus on the coach’s perspective. What does it mean to foster creativity in players? How can we better understand the process of encouraging creative problem solving on the field? Vaughan offers practical insights and solutions to an often abstract topic. Creativity is often described as the use of imagination to invent something. Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson refines this idea by explaining creativity as ‘the process of having original ideas that have value’. The…

Frenkie De Jong is one of Dutch Football’s brightest stars. PDP Lead Researcher James Vaughan examines a recent interview with De Jong and shares some brilliant research around knowledge and learning, helping coaches understand how to create a learning environment and difference between telling and doing. In a recent interview, one of the most exciting prospects to emerge in European football talks about the secret of becoming a good football player. Ajax’s Dutch international Frenkie de Jong explains: “Good players play on intuition. When I…

As a coach, it’s easy to overlook the sacrifices players and their parents make to pursue their love of sport. With support from Murray United Technical Director, Adam Carty, PDP Contributor, Lara Mossman shares an article on commitment and motivation for young players, providing advice for coaches on how to create autonomy supportive environments. When young players sign up for talented and elite player programs, the commitment is usually considerable. Compared to their counterparts in community sports programs, some players travel several hours each week…

What value does belonging have in youth development? PDP Contributor & Founder of Raising Excellence, Reed Maltbie shares a personal story that outlines the critical importance of the environments we create and the tribes we belong to. I sat in the parking lot, a quiet observer, hoping not to be noticed by my son. People change when they are being watched. When they know someone is observing, they change behaviors, words, interactions. When they are “in their element” and not aware of watchful eyes, they…

How do you communicate with your players? In this article PDP Technical Advisor, Dan Wright shares some fascinating reflections and advice for coaches on how to effectively question and communicate with players to make sure they genuinely think about solutions within the game. Over the last few months I have found myself using the question used as this article’s title a lot. I’ve done so with an aim to challenge players to think about their game, or perhaps more specifically what they had noticed whilst…

Player Development Project Assistant Editor, Jon Hoggard, looks at some of the recent top stories in world football, through the lens of PDP values and philosophies. Abuse shows erosion of values You’d hope that the press headlines after a Chelsea vs Manchester City match would be all about the football on show, wouldn’t you? A watershed win for new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri. City’s first misstep in the league. A clash of playing styles, etc. Instead, due to the actions of some members of the…

Football is a game of speed, whether it’s quick thinking, or quick movement. PDP Editor & UEFA A licensed coach, Dave Wright & Tottenham Hotspur first team analyst, Zaheer Shah examine some clips and stats from the 2018 World Cup, sharing thoughts on some of the trends to emerge at the tournament and whether they have implications in youth development. The 2018 World Cup has seen the importance of combination play, transition, quick counter attack, 1 v 1 attributes and game changing individual brilliance as key…