Monday, June 30, 2008

The Coach Speaks!

Some of the New York Canaries with John(far left) and (former City coach) Dick Mills(far right) at George Keeley bar, NYC.

Bigus here! As you may recall, last week I told you lot that my mate and Norwich under 12's coach John Revell was in town. I offered you the opportunity to have your questions answered by a proper, certified footy coach. You took that opportunity and eagerly submitted your questions. Here are the answers.....

u75: "Ask him if Delia tries out any of her new recipes on the kids?"

JR says: "Delia is influential in chef appointments & menu content ensuring they meet her high standards & understanding our athletes dietary needs. The first team eat at Colney Training ground as do the scholars each day & U-15 & U-16 players when they train during the day from School release. Listings are made for the players’ guidance relating to carbohydrates/fats/protein content."

Mike Georger: "What I've always wondered with these youth teams, lets say a ten or eleven year old hits a growth spurt and all of a sudden has five or six inches on the other kids. Do they bump him up to the next level?"

JR says: "Growth spurts can be a real problem to growing players and the Academy youngsters are regularly monitored for weight & height so that significant changes are identified. Rather than creating a situation where growth spurts improve performance thus enabling upgrading to the next age level, they are more likely to impair performance leading to a loss of mobility and therefore form & are often one reason a player is struggling."

The Fan's Attic: "Where does he get his training drills? How does he decide if they are good for his kids?"


"Is there anything new in training for soccer or is it simply stuff that has been used for years and years? I guess this question is, how well is training advancing in soccer. I feel like in the past 20 years training for the major sports in America has become much more refined/specialized/targeted, has this become true in soccer?"

JR says: "Personally I spend quite a bit of time identifying what I want to achieve & make some of my own drills to meet the requirements. However there isn’t too much new in basic needs, ie. Coaching players to receive/control/pass the ball & moving when under pressure & its often about tweaking drills used by other coaches, watching videos, reading articles etc. etc. As with everything, there is no shortcut and it involves hard work & a passion to improve knowledge. At the academy we regularly hold in-house coaching sessions covering a range of topics & presenters which include tactics & an understanding of different systems of play.

The key for deciding benefits for the players, in my opinion: is it relevant to the game? Is it going to be interesting & are the players going to enjoy being involved in it? If they can see/understand the benefits to them, then the session will be easier to deliver as they are more likely to “buy into it”.

The specialization players in the Academy receive coaching in groups for defenders, midfield & strikers within their training sessions from age U-13."

Andrew: wanted to know.. "How tied into a single position are kids at the age of 10-11? Are position assignments more fluid, or are kids already locked-in at that age?"

JR says: "When players are scouted for the Academy from their local teams they have probably been earmarked into either defenders, midfielders or strikers by their manager or dads & it is as such that they are recruited. However it is often apparent that players have differing qualities that can suggest they may be suited in other positions & it is not unusual for movement around positions within their Academy teams to see how players individual qualities enable them to adapt to other positions. I know of individual cases where boys have moved into different positions & found a new lease of life."

The Fan's Attic: "Do you see any downside to having kids focus on one sport at such an early age? could it be helpful to have them do other activities?"

JR says: "The benefit of only seriously playing one sport is that they can put all the effort into that area concentrating completely on improving. In the Academy we encourage players to participate in other sports such as athletics if they wish but clearly as they diversify the impact in any one sport becomes “watered down” but we see benefits in players having a more rounded sporting profile. By age 15 or 16 decisions should be made as to what sport is it to be. Fish or cut bait!"

Who is the next Sutton? John (far right) with his current crop of budding young footballers!

Hockalees: "As kind of an offshoot of one of FA's questions... if training in the UK has become as targeted/specialized as it has in the US, does he ever encounter the "diamonds in the rough" that excel at an older age (in their teens, a la Michael Jordan)? Or does the early specialization tend to discourage those who come to the game later?

How early do they start with 11 v 11 play with youth in England?

JR says: "When working with young players it is clear that their development can be at different ages. There are many who are ahead of the field at 7,8,9 who then plateau out & are “caught up” by others. Similarly there are some who, for whatever reason, come good at a later age & pass those early flyers. Since all the training/coaching that Academy players get from entering the Academy at U-9 they will have benefited from it if they stay the course. It is unusual for players to come into the academy at a later age matching those players through the complete package although they have demonstrated at their clubs that they have potential & are worth consideration & some indeed do make it.

Eleven v. eleven is currently introduced at local league level under English FA jurisdiction at U-11, but this may be reviewed. However in the Academy programme. U-9 & U-10 play 5 or 6 a side, U-11 play 9 a side & U-12 start at 11 a side."

Finally, The Fan's Attic: "Who was your greatest success?"

JR says: I presume you mean which Academy boys featured in my Academy teams over the years have made it to pro? Since the advent of the Academy system players are now starting to come through into the senior ranks & I will mention that from the U-14 team which I was helping with approximately 5 years ago, Joe Lewis, Michael Spillaine, Rossi Jarvis & Chris Martin have achieved professional contracts."

Many thanks to John for taking the time to address your questions.



The Fan's Attic said...


Goat said...

Damn, I wish I would have asked a serious question.

The NY Kid said...

I don't know what she's making, but now I'm hungry.

Also, thanks to John for answering these questions. As someone who used to coach (and wishes I still could), it was interesting to get his perspective from a higher level of training.

Ian said...

Fascinating. The English approach to putting kids in academies run by teams at such a young age seems a little harsh from the American perspective, but I'm sure the coaching they receive is better than what kids get in AYSO/traveling clubs/high school here in the States.

Kopper said...

We had a lot of fun. It was a great 5 hours! I was a bit "cloudy" in the morning (that's me in the striped shirt).

Andrew said...

Good stuff. Thanks for doing this.