Underage development

Do any clubs out there actually track the skills development of their underage players (I mean youngsters, u8, u10, u12)? I have realized recently that in the club I’m involved with now, we train the groups as a whole, and are happy enough if the group generally gets better at soloing, kicking etc. But within that there are kids who are just doing it wrong and the more they practice the more they develop the wrong technique and will stop improving over time.

My theory is that it would be useful to track each player at each skill (in our case, we are’t huge, so there isn’t a vast amount of kids). And the goal is to improve each child’s score year on year. So they should be better at the end of the season then the start. This has the other advantage of the child being only judged against themselves and their own ability rather then the group as a whole (and other kids with maybe more natural abilities).

It also allows coaches to focus on individual children and train them for their weaknesses, not their strengths.

It all makes sense to me! And I assume there is something along those lines out there - but I would be grateful if someone could let me know if there is or isn’t.

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Hey @Wifi - I hope nobody is soloing like Paul Mannion. :grin:

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That’s what Im trying to stop at source :grinning:

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Depends on the club the resources available etc , some clubs are just happy to field with fathers of very little training in charge , bigger clubs bigger numbers its easier train players of similar standard and track , but if its one Dad/Mum with 15/ 16 kids on a Tuesday night much harder

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I do a version of this also 2/3 times a year whereby I would test left and right foot solo and hand pass, kicking distance and accuracy and speed over different distances. Kids get a copy of results and I keep a copy and gives them a target to base improvements off. especially when I flag next assessment is coming as you see them more focussed and even doing stuff on their own to try and improve. For kids especially things need to be visual so they can see a baseline target they have to achieve. This is obviously looking against themselves not judged against the best in the group as some kids are late developers

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I know of one club in Meath that track the progress of all juvenile players. Starts off with very basic stuff at say an U-8 level like Paddy kicks with his left, can handpass off one hand and can’t solo while running yet. As little Paddy gets older these details are passed on to the coach/mentor of the U-10s so the next report might say he can now solo and kick pass too, and continues to be passed along up through the age grades.
All these details track the progress a player is making and if no progress is visible then they know we need to concentrate on skill A or B at various stages through the child’s development, or if none of the kids are progressing then they need to look at either the coach or the training being done.
When I was first told about this I thought that it was a crazy idea, but thinking it through it’s probably quiet a good idea as long as it’s done right. It means each players progress is being measured against their own standards, as opposed to being judged against the best kids at any particular age group, as all players develop at different rates and ages, and as anyone that has been involved with underage teams can verify, it’s often the run of the mill players at juvenile that go on to be the mainstays of many club teams.

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I think the kids and their parents need to be involved with the results of the progression also so they know what they should be doing to get kid A to the next stage. Its not the work in training that makes the best players but the work outside on their own with parents or brothers and sisters that bring a child along and faster. If most reasonable parents know what they need to work on with their child they will spend a few minutes with them to improve

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That was my theory on it too to be honest. You can focus the development of each player and drive improvement according to their own abilities. I am very interested to hear others are doing it. @Pastit club is doing it too.

I wonder if any of the Dublin development squads track this?

On a wider front I think a lot of the success of Dublin at senior level is just down to their abilities to execute all the skills the majority of the time. That’s why they keep the ball and others don’t.

Makes sense. I have started sending out the link to the skill card for whatever skill we focussed on that week along with the main pointers on doing it on the parents WhatsApp. Now I assume 99% of parents are ignoring it (maybe I am wrong in that), but if even if only one or two parents work with the child on it, it would be good.

But the idea of showing the parents the report and giving them a focus to work on never occurred to me. But I can see a lot of benefit to it.

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Are you at liberty to say which club?

This is quite interesting to see where the development of basic skill sets is being tracked and information shared going forward, it is quite the removal from my juvenile days.
Unfortunately there’s no juvenile GAA in my part of the world, both my kids play basketball and we’ve been extremely lucky with the coaches they’ve had, I been one of them ha!

From our point of view in basketball as in GAA basic skills development is fundamentally important, we have implemented a policy in my older boys team, he has the same coach for community basketball, which is basically a bit more casual, and club which is more structured and competitive.
We have 4 coaches in total for club, when we scrimmage we don’t keep score in the traditional way, we have 3 on 3 games and the kids are tracked and recorded both defensively and offensively.
We use half court and the defence stay defence until a certain number of tasks are performed individually.
Blocks, screens, foot movement etc, same goes for offence, shots using correct technique, number of passes, layups and clock management.
All this info is recorded by coaches and then every 2nd week 2-3 kids that have the same stuff to work on are put with one coach to work on the weaker aspects of the game.
We work it in such a way that is quite subtle and we have seen great results. All info is recorded and shared with parents on TeamSnap.
We have very enthusiastic parents at club level and are very supportive, the feedback we’re getting is that kids are working on some of the things at home by themselves and it’s obvious based on the improvement we see at practice and game time.
Things like this are relatively easier in basketball given the coach to players ratio unlike the couple of parents per 16-20 kids.

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Probably not my place to say but it would be a club in an area that has grown a lot in the last 10/20 years in the commuter belt, and would have had at least 2 players involved with Meath yesterday.

Did they both score?

Cuala used to have a ‘Player Pathway’ afaik. Am sure some of the lads on here can confirm.

When I was coaching adults I used to get them to note 3 areas of improvement and get them to work on that over the year. From an underage perspective its a well meaning idea … but is it appropriate to be formally tracking that sort of information instead of ensuring the kids are enjoying the game? If you build a good relationship with your players you should be able to track progress without keeping a detailed log. Player retention would be my priority. I have heard of a bigger Dublin club that had a few mentors on the sideline with iPads tracking players. Not sure if it’s true, so won’t mention the clubs name.

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Ive tried the skills card approach but found it takes a serious amount of time, esp if you have 2-3 teams at U10-12. Performing a good kick unapposed in a test is no indicator it will be repeated in a match.

So I changed to tracking performance in matches, which I found to be far better for developing players. Focus on taking a few stats ( similar to what you would do in a test) on a small number of players each week, get a few parents involved to help.

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A current Dublin player was way way down the pecking order at his club all through his teens.

I don’t think it’s any harm to monitor if the results are presented in the right way and used to encourage and not browbeat or humiliate. I remember being at a coaching talk way back where we were told a lad who could use both hands and feet was eight times more effective than a one-sided player.

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Yep, my own kids do basketball too and I am impressed by the structure they have. Kids are shown how to do the skills, it’s not just assumed they will pick them up.

Not sure to be honest.

I agree that having a good relationship with your players should allow you to track their progress, but I’d imagine the thinking behind this is that if a group are passed on to a different mentor the next age group up then he will have an understanding of the abilities and progress of each player from the start rather than spending the first 3 or 4 months trying to figure out what’s what.

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