Our Programs

Staged Phases of Player Development

We apply a logical, progressive approach to developing players effectively. NZ Football provide information on player characteristics at each stage in their ‘Four Phases’ model- Discovery, Skill Acquisition, Game Training and Performance, which is guided by three principles

  • Develop the individual
  • A stepped, logical, phased approach is required, taking into account the age of the individual
  • A holistic approach utilising all four corners of the player development model

Discovery (Stages: Fundamentals, Playful Technical Training)

A player’s first contact with football in Northland comes via our community clubs. Discovering is about enjoyment and falling in love with the game. Activities are high energy, enjoyable and relatively short. Games are 3 or 4 a side to maximise time on the ball per player and encourage involvement while sessions focus on the fundamental movements, dribbling and running with the ball, and are allied with high levels of encouragement from the coach as opposed to the delivery of structured coaching points.

Skill Acquisition (Stages: Football Specific Basic Training)

Our junior program is a player’s first contact with Northland FC coaches. From 9th grade, the McDonald’s Northland Skills Centre is available as an extra training session for any player in the Northland region. NZ Football’s Junior Framework is designed for the ‘future football player’, based on best practice observation and research from around the world. This is underpinned by a player centred coaching approach, meaning the focus is on individual development as opposed to team performance.

The McDonald’s Northland Skills Centre uses five guiding principles for the successful delivery of its program:

  • Game Related Training – Training should involve all four moments of the game and place players in scenarios they will face in a game. This allows them to solve relevant problems through the ‘Perceive, Decide, Execute’ process – a key attribute of players at the highest level.
  • Time On The Ball – The skill acquisition phase is often regarded as the ‘golden age of learning’. Players should be given as many opportunities as possible to develop their game skills and master the ball.
  • Enjoyable Environment – An environment of learning and development must be fostered to maximise player development. In this phase, our coaches are encouraged to focus on long term player development while creating enjoyable, stimulating environments.
  • Full Engagement – We strive to provide holistic development opportunities for our players, technical, physical, mental and social. Activities outside of the session are geared toward providing players with opportunities to develop as people as much as footballers, using arrival time, drinks breaks to create a learning environment for our players.
  • Effective Feedback – Players at this stage will have accelerations and decelerations in their development. To support their progress, coaches must provide informed feedback that is relevant to the tasks performed and objective of the practice, while encouraging players to adopt a growth mindset.

Game Training (Stages: Shaping The Future Player, Preparation For Highest Performance)

Our youth program is completely aligned with the standards and guidelines set by NZ Football in their accreditable Talent Development Program (TDP), which enables us to maintain positions in Regional youth competitions at every grade.

Our periodised youth program is designed to help players accelerate their development across the four corner development model (physical, mental, technical/tactical, social/emotional). Our training model is very much still based around the individual in this training phase, although the focus begins to gradually shift towards the team as players progress through the age grades.

As with the McDonald’s Northland Skills Centre, our TDP uses the following guiding principles to ensure that a balanced, age appropriate training environment is created for player development in Northland:

  • Qualified Coaches – All youth team head coaches in our TDP are qualified to a minimum OFC/NZF C Licence. As well as understanding the principles of long term player development a Northland FC coach must stay aware of trends across world football to ensure the best possible practice for our players
  • Training The Looks Like A Game – For a player to develop the ability to perceive, decide and execute (PDE) tasks well, they should be exposed to the random, variable, externally placed nature of football with high frequency. Trainings involve all four moments of the game and put players in scenarios they face during a match.
  • Recognising Development Age – Maturation levels differ greatly among individuals during puberty, and difference in development age of up to four years in the same chronological age group are common. It is important that these differences are taken into consideration during the identification and development of high potential players so that late maturers are given the same opportunity as early maturers.
  • Build A Culture Of Excellence – Coaches must encourage players to adopt a growth mindset and focus on long term player development. This involves players taking part in task based exercises that embrace mistakes as key learning opportunities and consistently asking players to operate at the limit of their current abilities.
  • Periodised Training Program – All Northland FC training programs are split into periods, accomplishing different goals at different stages and phases of player development. Detailed periodised planning has been undertaken to meet the needs of our high potential players across all four corners. Our periodised TDP plans use our playing style statement, game model and training model as a reference point.
  • Effective Feedback For Players – Recognising accelerations and decelerations in player development during the game training phase means there is a strong need for coaches to provide informed feedback that is related to the overarching club philosophy, thatask at hand and the overall objective of the practice. This helps to foster a growth mindset in players and emphasises effort as opposed to levels of success relative to an outcome.
  • One Environment – One environment to develop high potential players enables alignment of our coaching philosophy and methodologies to allow for consistent delivery and learning. Additionally, we are able to monitor physical workloads of players throughout our programs to ensure balance is maintained.

Performance (Stages: Perfecting & Stabilising Best Performance)

Training in the performance phase is centred around the team and optimising performance on every occasion. It is an opportunity for players to apply their skills at the highest possible level available to them in Northland. The approach of Northland FC in this phase is guided by our philosophy, game model and training model but moves more toward a team focus, perfecting team tactics and a focus on solving football problems based on match analysis.

Our first teams focus predominantly on performance, striving to obtain results while our Under 23 squads provide a bridge between the game training and performance phase – this step has a greater focus on individual player development, affording high potential players the opportunity to develop further before representing the first team if required.

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