So far we've looked at players that were striving to keep up with the group and those that are coping within the session. Here we'll take a closer look at those that are "forging ahead".

Again, for your reference, borrowed from the 'English FA' in their coaching magazine, The Boot Room (Edition 12).

Those That Forge Ahead

At the top end of any group, there are typically players that have found a level of mastery and are forging ahead with great success. While sometimes coaches are pleased to see this level of success, now is not the time to slow down and become complacent. Players that have found success need to be continually challenged. This is necessary to keep them engaged, maintain standards within the group and also stretch them to the next level.

Increase The Challenge

Within most activities, we encourage coaches to have progressions lined up to move the session along and further challenge the entire group. This is true of individuals as well. Finding ways to stretch and challenge them is important for their continued development.

  • Give them a new technique to work on (you've mastered the scissor, this time double scissor)
  • (In a 1 v. 1 game) No second chances. If the ball goes backwards, your turn is over.
  • You have to find a different method of finishing each time you score a goal.

Set Higher Standards

I think this is a particularly important way to differentiate for players that want to forge ahead. The very best players have a different mentality to other players and this starts with their standards. If you have a standout player, hold them to higher standards of practice, technique and application within the session.

In the example below, our top player(s) are required to hit the target with every shot and are set higher targets (for goals scored) than the rest of the team.

Group 1 drive in and shoot. Group 2 play a give and go and finish. Group 3 play a through ball, cross and Group 1 & 2 apply the finish.

Use Both Feet

This is an oldie but a goodie. Players at the highest level are rarely one footed. Some people will trot out arguments about Maradona, Messi etc. but they're still no slouches with their right, even if they're less frequently used. If a player is forging ahead, consider having them switch to their non-dominant foot in order to keep them engaged and well challenged. And if they suddenly become one of those 'striving to keep up', find ways to differentiate and simplify it for them!

This infographic, nabbed from the Coaching Manual, is a great example of why players should be stretched to use both feet!

Key Takeaways

  • Those that are forging ahead today may not be tomorrow unless they're sufficiently challenged
  • Consider the standards of higher level players and work on achieving and maintaining this in top players
  • If working on the non-dominant foot leaves them striving to keep up, power through and work with them on it

Written By: Dean Atkins