Developing players in the Youth Development Phase

Guide 12 - 16

Our England DNA aims to develop future England players with outstanding characteristics across the FA 4 Corner Model for player development. Additionally, the Youth Development Phase DNA aims to support the long-term development of all youngsters who choose to play the game.

By fostering a positive relationship between each young person, physical activity and football, coaches can help the youngsters fulfil their potential as both players and people.

The evolution of the game at the top level continues to place increased demands on players across all four corners. The game continues to get faster; there are constantly new technical requirements for all 11 players; and there is ever-increasing tactical variety enhanced by increasingly sophisticated analysis. Added to all of this are psychological and social implications for players – such as being able to thrive under pressure and positively dealing with off-pitch social responsibilities.

If you're coaching in the Youth Development Phase it’s useful to consider the players’ futures – what do they need to be prepared for and what might the game demand of them by the time they get to adulthood? If we want exciting, creative players in the future, the experiences the players gain through the Youth Development Phase must provide opportunities to develop those characteristics, skills and attributes.

Watch England Women's head coach Phil Neville talk about developing the future England player:

The future player

Whilst bearing the future in mind, it’s always good to start by considering who the players are – why do they play and where are they in their development as individuals – and then try to help them prepare for wherever their journey may take them in the future.

Each player’s journey is unique

It doesn’t matter in what setting you coach or where the players you coach end up in the future: everyone’s journey is unique. England players Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard reflect on their individual journeys through the Youth Development Phase:

Player journeys

Each of your players will have different capabilities and potential. They will be at different stages of development across all four corners and maturing at different times. Some players will be born earlier in the year and some later, some might have played for several years and others might just have started. They all need elements of challenge and support and the role of the coach is to nurture them along their journey, providing the experiences needed throughout this period of change.

Their developmental journeys will continue far beyond the Youth Development Phase and well into adulthood. It's impossible to predict where each individual's journey and potential will take them.

Regardless of their perceived potential, it’s important to strive to provide positive, memorable, fulfilling experiences for all young people who choose to play; every young person deserves a brilliant experience through football.Because society constantly evolves, these experiences might look and feel slightly different to when you yourself were young, so it's important to keep developing as coaches too.The young people you coach must always remain at the heart of your coaching in order to best support them now and into their futures.

To find out more, explore our Youth Development Phase DNA playlist.

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