To support the development of talented players, they should be exposed to a wide variety of experiences and learning. This can help prepare them for the flexible and evolving environments they will be a part of in the future, and allow them to be successful in a wider variety of contexts.
Different ‘items’ in the football diet should include:
- Stretching (an environment that challenges players to perform at a higher level than their current playing ability), such as playing up an age group, challenging training sessions or playing against different genders
- Supporting (an environment the player excels in), such as leading a young team, playing against those with similar ability, or playing with/against less talented players
- Unstructured practice, where individuals/groups of players play and train without coach intervention or guidance from an adult
We also believe players should ‘eat’ from a varied ‘menu’ of practice designs. As each type of practice has benefits for learning and skill development, it is important to expose players to these so that they develop effective, adaptive skills.