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Tactics vs Ability | Coaching Youth (age 13-18)

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Coaching Youth (age 13-18)

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  • saranicolehilton

    When it comes to your tactical preperation as a coach, do you build your team around your tactics or do your tactics depend on the ability of the team? 

  • JonWoodward74

    Hi Sara - can I say both.....?!

    I think it depends on the level you are competing at, and if it is a winning or developmental context. From an idealistic point of view, coaches (and I include myself in this) have a preferred way of playing, but this often comes from observations of successful, high level teams, where players can adapt and fit in within the system. So it may be a preferred way of watching teams play, as opposed to working with teams in that context.

    Above all, if the players are struggling with the technical ability, and the game understanding/management to fully implment the system, then i would always fall on that tactics are dependent on your team.

    What are your thoughts from working within a CoE programme?

  • ABradshaw

    One thing we worked on with the U18 girls was a varied set of tactics to help their development.  We played with a back 3 at times (3-2-3-2) but then also worked on an alternative back 4 set up (4-3-3 or 4-2-2-2).  It required a fair amount of time and input e.g. challenging the group with video footage for analysis or scenario play to explore the attacking/defensive options of both.  But what it did spark was plenty of discussion, variety, flexibility and hopefully a broader appreciation of adapting shape and set-up during game play.

    The further progression was to explore becoming more fluid bewteen styles during game play ... being proactive to really challenge oppositions ... but that was definitely a work in progress! 

  • saranicolehilton

    Thanks for the comment Rob! 

    I completely agree. The level and ability of the team is a vital component to way you prioritise your tactical vs technical preperation  

    For me, it varies from each team I coach. being that the performance centre (CoE)  is a stepping stone along the player pathway into Welsh international football is it vital that we have tactical consitancies across the age groups. Furthermore, there are certain tactical points that the national team exhibit that we at the performance centre have to coach i.e. formation and animations of play. This along with a specific terminology, minimises confusion as the players progress. To conclude, the generic tactical points are set from the start - regardless of the players, however at times it is crucial that coaches recognise when to adapt those tactics to suite the team. It would be completely pointless to use certain tactics if the technical ability of the players restricts them from physically coping within the remit of the tactics.



  • garyfowler

    I agree with Jon, there are many variables

    I do have a preferred way of playing but it would be selfish of me to think they will only ever play for me and therefore to be fair to the player I must introduce a vairety of tactics and styles of play. Part of my job is to prepare them for the next coach, the next level, the next team they play for etc.

    I was lucky enough to chat to Tim Lees a few years ago at a coaching event. He as then at Wigan under Roberto Martinez but now works at the Liverpool acaemy. He agreed with me that he couldn't understand why clubs/academies only taught one style of player as dictated by the first team coach ( and can thrrefore change drastically depending on sackings ) At Wigan, irrespective of who the head coach was, the adacamy teams were educated in a variety of styles of play and tactics.

    This links back into the original post about the tactics and ability version of the chicken and the egg. So many facets but both work hand in hand. tactics can be simplified depending on the age, ability of players. Even within that individual players can be pushed further if their ability to take on higher-level information is greater.

    I also attempt to help players self-coach and at half time, full time etc get their input of how things are going, would they like to continue or what changes they can see as an option ffom their position on the pitch. Giving them more owenership helps their learning as they progress makes them more 'game-smart'

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