Creating the all-rounded football player at THA

At THA football centre, we aim to create ‘the all-rounded football player’

Now that sounds all well and good, but what does this actually mean?

Our Technical Director Sam Holmshaw was the first to introduce this aim, from his fundamental beliefs developed through his masters study, and his first hand experience from both youth grassroots and academy football.

Sam Holmshaw – Technical Director of THA

One thing that coaches and parents can be prone to, is thinking that their son and daughter is a first-team senior player. Youth players are often encouraged to only play in one or two positions throughout their youth careers, and encouraged to develop a certain set of ‘skill-sets’ attributed towards that position.

If we give an example, the ‘winger’ may be encouraged to play on the right or left, but usually their skill set will be focused around pace, speed, dribbling, ball control and crossing. If we take the centre-back as another example, their skill set may be focused around strength, power, tacking, jockeying, and generally how well they read the game from a defensive mindset.

Now all this may be familiar to you the reader, however at THA we believe that this way of thinking can actually be limiting to young players!

What’s the issue?

In the modern game, football is about adaptability. A widespread of systems and tactics and strategies mean that footballers need to be able to play in a wider range of positions. We now see CB’s being converted to CDM’s, or RW’s being covered to RWB’s. Yet, in order for players to be able to do this, they need to be able to perform a wider skill set.

For example at RWB, the players needs attacking traits such as pace, speed, ball control and crossing as well as strength, power, tacking and jockeying. If we take our RW example, who only possesses those attacking traits, then evidently they will struggle to get into the team. Likewise the modern day CDM position requires a player who can manipulate and pass the ball with variation, a difficult task for the centre-back who has never developed their passing ability.

This may seem quite obvious, but notably at grassroots level many coaches and parents fall into the trap of saying “he’s a RW” or “she’s a LB”. And for the next 10 years the players only players in that position. They may go on to be the best LB in the world, but if the LB is asked to play CB or CM to get into the team at senior level, they need to be able to at least have the skill set to cope in that position.

Sam goes into this in more depth for anyone interested in further reading

It’s important in youth football that we don’t restrict players to one or two positions. If we do this they may only develop position-specific traits, and lack adaptability. We should encourage players to play in various positions throughout their youth careers, to help them develop a much wider tactical/technical skill set and play in a wider range of positions. Phil Foden is the prime example in modern day football, and I would argue his adaptability has contributed to his success early in his career.

Sam Holmshaw – Technical Director at THA

However, ‘the all-rounded football player‘ is just not about the technical and tactical, its also about developing our young footballers psychological and social skills too. These areas are often forgotten about or have little attention due to time resources. However, it is important to develop a range of ‘psycho-social’ skills, not just to help our youngsters develop as players, but also as young people. Skills such as leadership, concentration, emotional control, teamwork, respect, responsibility are hugely important in both the football game, but also in future adult life. Therefore at THA, we look to develop these skills within our sessions, to help create ‘the all-rounded person’.

For further reading check out Sam Holmshaw’s blogs and The Sports Coaching Podcast.

The Holmshaw Academy LTD

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