Talent Development

Uncovering the pathways which help players develop and continue to thrive in sport.

In this Masterclass Webinar replay, we’re joined by Head Coach of Portland Timbers T2 team, Cameron Knowles for a conversation on High Performance Coaching. Cameron is a former professional player who had a career in the USA with Real Salt Lake, Portland Timbers and Montreal Impact. He holds the US Pro License, a Masters in Psychology and was an Assistant Coach of the MLS Title Winning Portland Timbers staff in 2015 before taking up the role of Head Coach of the club’s T2 team who…

This Masterclass Webinar replay is a fantastic opportunity for you to explore the research behind scanning and awareness in football with Dave Eldridge, UEFA A licensed coach & lecturer at Chichester University in England. “I spend the entire 90 minutes looking for space on the pitch. I’m always between the opposition’s two holding midfielders and thinking, ‘The defence is here, so I get the ball and I go there to where the space is.” – Xavi The best players seem to always have time on the…

Self-organisation was a key process discussed at the Complex Systems in Sports Congress at Camp Nou in Barcelona. PDP co-founder James Vaughan discusses the importance of understanding and observing self-organisation with video and reflections from Barcelona and Sweden. It was the end of the day and that meant free play. However, this freedom felt very restricted, very one-directional, very narrow. It was almost as if the players had blinkers on; constrained to only see forwards. Dribble forward, tackle, loose ball, transition! Dribble forward, tackle, loose ball, transition! Dribble…

How can parents and coaches help young players overcome a perfectionist mindset? Chief Content Officer at Changing the Game Project, Reed Maltbie shares a fantastic article around some of the modern challenges parents and coaches face with perfectionism on the rise in a status-driven society. Recently, Changing the Game Project received a question that we get often, so we thought it would make a great blog: “I was wondering if you could provide some advice. My son is 8 years old and plays on a…

PDP Co-Founder Dave Wright & Former New Zealand Women’s Head Coach Tony Readings, discussing the positives and potential pitfalls for girls in mixed soccer. Is it better for female soccer players to play in boys’ teams? Playing mixed soccer can provide both technical benefits and social challenges. As coaches, we must strike a balance that pushes our players without hindering their development or enjoyment of the game. Whether it’s best for a girl to play on boys’ teams depends upon a variety of factors that…

In this Masterclass webinar replay, the PDP team share a top presentation on developing 1v1 players. PDP Co-Founder Dave Wright hosts a conversation with PDP Technical Advisor, Dan Wright and PDP Coaching Advisor, James Coutts on the value of 1v1s and how you can support your players confidence in developing this key attribute. The conversation covers a range of topics: – Position specific 1v1s – Various session plans for you to adapt – Discuss where 1v1s happen on the pitch – Share video of 1v1…

Rob Sherman explains the player-centred approach and asks whether it is exclusive to youth development. Rob has over 30 years’ experience, starting in amateur leagues before graduating to be an Area Coach for the Welsh FA and coach of Wales U16. After several years as the Welsh National Player Development Manager and Technical Director, in 2007 he became High Performance Manager at New Zealand Football and coached at FIFA events and two Olympics. After establishing the Asia Pacific Football Academy, Rob returned to New Zealand…

In this Masterclass Webinar replay, we connect with the highly experienced, Kelly Cross & Drew Sherman to discuss youth development in Australia. Kelly Cross is the Technical Director – Youth at Sydney FC, whilst Drew is the General Manager of Football at Melbourne Victory. Since the turn of the century these two clubs have been the most successful in the A League and now lead the way around youth development pathways. In this discussion, PDP Editor, Dave Wright hosts Kelly and Drew for an in…

In this Masterclass Discussion, PDP Editor, Dave Wright is joined by Academy Manager of Birmingham City FC, Kristjaan Speakman for an in depth and wide ranging conversation. Kristjaan has been at the club for well over a decade and has also coached at Derby County under the guidance of Terry Westley. Now one of England’s most highly regarded Academy Managers, Kristjaan sits down with Dave to discuss leadership, coaching and coach development, shares insights into the journey of Demarai Gray & recent first team debutant,…

Coaching across age groups requires subtle skills and in depth understanding. In this Masterclass Webinar replay, PDP Co-hosts Dave Wright and Dan Wright host Assistant Academy Manager at Birmingham City FC, Stuart Engish for an in depth discussion on age appropriate coaching. Stuart shares some brilliant insights into the academy at Birmingham City FC and his former club, Brentford FC where he held a similar role. The conversation focusses on the differences of coaching delivery and player development across all of the age phases from…

In this Live Session PDP Coaching Advisor, James Coutts builds on his previous work around forward passing, progressing his session with a group of U11 players to include a finishing component. This is the third part in a series of sessions focussed on playing through and around. This practice sees a continuation of the concept of the theme which allows players to find a pass to a player beyond lines who is tasked with scoring whilst defenders recover. The players have to choose the right moment to break lines…

In this Masterclass Webinar replay, we are joined by PhD Researcher, Megan Hill from the University of Bath for an in depth discussion on growth and maturation in youth football. Talent development and understanding performance versus potential is a complex topic. The progression from childhood, through adolescence to adulthood is characterised by an individual experiencing growth, maturation, and development. This process is unique to each child, it can be slow and steady or be full of huge growth spurts and challenging injuries. These influences can…

In this PDP Live Session, PDP Coaching Advisor, James Coutts facilitates the second part of his session where the focus is on playing through and around opposition players. This session supports players understanding of space, utilising an 8 v 4 overload in favour of the possession team to find and exploit gaps. The defending team is incentivised with the opportunity to press or screen and subsequently score in the mini goals at each end. As with any PDP session, we strongly encourage you to take…

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 physical elements of youth development are complicated by growth, maturation and a number of variables. In this PDP Webinar replay, Dan Wright hosts Nottingham Forest FC Coaches, Tom Mallinson and Lewis Bramley for an in depth discussion on integrating conditioning and managing load with youth players. Tom is a Professional Development Phase coach working primarily with the U18 players. Lewis is the Lead U9-16 Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Academy. Dan hosts a discussion that dives into a number of issues that challenge…

In this article, AFC A licensed coach Andrew Oakley shares his perspective on a significant issue in Australian grassroots football. Andrew discusses the risks of trials, recruitment and talent identification, outlining the importance of belonging and cohesion in a young footballers developmental journey. Why do we keep shuffling the cards in hope of a ‘winning’ hand? At the end of every season in Australia’s youth football landscape, a ritual is repeated that isn’t doing our clubs or players any favours. The annual circus of retention,…

The question this week comes from Callum via our Facebook Page Callum asks: “How do I balance developing athletic and technical players?” Your Turn: Ask PDP Anything Do you have a coaching question that we might be able to help with? We would love to hear from you. Here’s what you can do: Join the conversation on our PDP Slack Community. Post them in the comments section, tweet them to us at @playerdp, or ask them on our Facebook page. Additional Resources Check out other Q&A Videos here.  …

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