Players are mentally capable of understanding complex thoughts, understand responsibilities within a system and execute. Building on the progression from U11 and U12, coaches can continue to introduce tactical formations, set plays, and specific player responsibilities within the system. Coaches must assess their player’s strengths and weaknesses and develop a system of play that suits the individual talents.
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Player’s bodies are reaching full maturity and are capable of receiving physical fitness progressions, which will allow them to compete at higher levels. As matches grow in length, players must have the fitness regimen to stay mentally focused. Additionally, a focus on nutrition – the fuel for the body – is a key component for success. The body is growing and needs the right mix of food to ensure optimal performance. Coaches should make their players aware of their food choices and how it may impact their performance.
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Player confidence is always a battle. Coaches must find the right balance of challenging – and yet supporting – to create a growth environment. At the onset of puberty, social pressures and new distractions in other interests, it is critical that coaches maintain a positive, yet accountable environment. Players are craving boundaries at this age and it is your responsibility to create that team spirit and community for a sense of belonging that will explode player development.
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As you reach older ages of the game, you fulfill many different roles: you are part coach, part mediator, part friend and part psychologist. The team’s well-being needs to be your focus as distractions from parents, club and league can certainly become intrusive. It is critical that you have a shared vision for the team and the expectations of players and families. Without these aspects in tact, your team is doomed to fail. Make sure you have your team philosophy and expectations well-known to everyone to avoid confusion.
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