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What are the characteristics of the Game Model in the Initiation Period?

In the youth football, building a game model is essential to facilitate players’ learning in their early stages of the development. This model serves as a guide, instilling individual and collective characteristics in the players.

It is a key element in the holistic development of young players, providing an identity to the team and facilitating the development of suitable behaviours in the play.

In this week’s article, we will explore in detail the different key elements that make up the game model during the initiation period and how these will lay the foundations for more advanced learning in the future.


The Game Idea

The Game Idea stands as the foundation of every model. Every coach has his unique perspective on football, and answering fundamental questions such as how do they understand football, what style of play do they want to instil, and how do they want their team to play in different phases of the game is crucial.

Adapting this idea to the young players’ level of understanding is essential. At this formative stage, it is more about teaching concepts that align with the children’s cognitive and perceptual ability, building a solid foundation for the future.

The Playing System

The choice of the Playing System follows the definition of the game idea. This system determines not only the initial formation of the team but also the distribution of roles and responsibilities. It is static and serves to position the players on the pitch when the ball is not in motion. The choice of the system is influenced by the vision of the coach and the characteristics of the players.

In the initiation period, the aim is to encourage associative play and the active participation of the players. Constant adaptation is key, as this is a formative stage where the aim is to build the skills and understanding necessary for the future.

A practical example of this adaptation could be the use of a playing system that promotes connection between players, facilitating associative play and relationships between participants. This aligns with the coach’s teaching philosophy and the specific needs of the players in training.

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The Principles of Play

The Principles of Play are rules that coordinate the actions of the players during the development of the game. They are behaviours reproduced by the team that, when coordinated, define the way the team ‘plays’ – its DNA.

In the initiation period, players must gradually understand and apply these principles. The egocentric phase focuses on more basic principles, such as rational occupation of the pitch, while the summative phase introduces principles of attack, defence and transitions.

A practical example of a principle of play in the attacking phase for 7-a-side football could be: generating numerical superiority in order to progress towards the opponent’s penalty area.

Conclusion

In summary, the construction of the game model in the initiation period is an evolutionary process. It starts with the clear definition of the game idea, followed by the choice of the playing system and the application of principles of play. Adaptability and consideration of player characteristics are essential. In this phase, the foundations for future learning are laid, fostering the understanding of the game and the development of fundamental skills. Building a solid game model at initiation is crucial to prepare players for more advanced stages of their football development.

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