Season End Reflection
The end of the football season is, in many respects, as important as the start of the season.
This time of year gives players and coaches the opportunity to determine if the year has been a success from a development perspective. It also determines areas for improvement for next season.
By doing an assessment to highlight areas for improvement the feedback loop is closed for the season. Feedback, either from the coach or through self-evaluation, is a key factor in developing young talent.
Elite players who are performing at the very top of their game follow this process.
It doesn’t matter how good you are as a footballer, or how old you are, the habit of self-evaluation sets an athlete up for success. This very attitude is summed up perfectly by Ronaldo, who despite his phenomenal success, still exhibits a burning desire to keep bettering himself being quoted as saying, “I feel an endless need to learn, to improve and to evolve.”
This approach of self-evaluation should be used year-round. However, the end of the year is particularly meaningful in that the season is over and the routine cycle of training and playing slows giving time to reflect on the last season as a whole.
The end of the season is a time for rest from match day but also a time to keep active with a football.
Top Flight Football Academy continues training through the off-season months.
By keeping in contact with a football, a player maintains and develops technique and skill through the season break. Anyone who has not kicked a football from the end of the season to the start of the next knows how it difficult it can be to re-engage once the new season rolls around.
Why spend 6 weeks rediscovering touch and control? Particularly for young, developing players, the off-season represents a chance to keep moving up the development curve so the new season starts with the player able to hit the ground running.
Top Flight schedules training early in the morning so kids have clear afternoons once school is finished for the day. This lets kids be kids and avoids overloading of physical activity.
Children need to stay fresh and not get ground down by over-work. This is an essential consideration, especially as bodies and minds grow.
Diversity of Sport
Soccer Italian Style, who Top Flight collaborated with to deliver an Italian youth academy experience in Auckland earlier in the year, encourage young players to try different sports and activities over the break.
Anything that helps improve mind body co-ordination is beneficial. The activity must also be enjoyable for the participant of course.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) agrees with this point of view.
In the recent IOC Consensus Statement for Youth Athletic Development the following statement was made:
“A diversity of sport activities during childhood allows young athletes to experience a range of opportunities and then select (or be selected to) a specific path of more targeted training during adolescence and early childhood.”
By taking this approach, young footballers stay fresh and energised. They keep enjoying football while developing their physical capabilities through a range of activities.
It is for these reasons – evaluation and feedback, the opportunity to develop a skill base away from match day, and the benefits of other activities to build a stronger physical and mental base that the off-season is so important.
Recognising that the off-season can set you up for a stellar season is an important concept. By staying connected with the sport at an appropriate level, development continues and the young player starts the next season with the benefit of 4-5 months of accelerated learning.
Use the off-season to make a big a difference to the future and start 2016 on the front foot.
IOC Consensus Statement on Youth Athletic Development
J Sports Med 2015 (49, pp843-851)
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