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ACADEMY IN THE SPOTLIGHT – PART 3

6 June 2013

A look at the major developments in coaching driven by the introduced by the EPPP

After the three part insight into recruitment at Huddersfield Town, htafc.com is now following up with a series on the Academy, which has seen a complete overhaul over the last year with huge changes in every aspect of its operations.
 


In the next part of our look into the Academy and the Elite Player Performance Plan we look at the developments made at coaching level.
 
As part of the EPPP’s rules introduced last summer each club which operated an Academy was required to prepare a Coaching Programme based around the Club’s football philosophy and the Club’s Academy Performance Plan.
 
“Coaching Programme” means a Club’s coaching curriculum which must be set out in writing and include: 
(a) the technical, tactical, physical and psychological skills that the Club wishes its Academy Players to develop; 
(b) the appropriate means of coaching Academy Players in order that they develop those 
skills (having due regard to their age); and 
(c) specific coaching curricula for each of the Foundation Phase, Youth Development Phase and Professional Development Phase.
 
The Club’s Coaching Programme was drawn up by the Academy Coaching Team led by Manager Mark Lillis who explained the process:
 
“The Club’s Coaching Programme gives particular consideration to the desired outcomes of each of our coaching drills and sessions. It is imperative that sessions are prepared in advance and detail specific skills that will be coached during the sessions. 
 
“There are many elements which make a successful training session. The coaching we provide fits into the Club’s philosophy and is mirrored throughout the age groups; the way that we talk during sessions and the language that we use is also laid out in the coaching programme and fits with the ethos of the Club. The way we provide feedback has also been changed as we seek to provide each individual with specific performance related reviews and feedback on how players can improve and how we can help them.

“Ross Wilson, Nigel Clibbens, the First Team Manager, Academy coaches and I were all involved in the process of preparing the various elements of the Coaching Programme which was given final approval by the Club’s Board.
 
“All Academy coaches are required to plan, deliver, evaluate and record every session in accordance to the Club’s Football Philosophy. Every session must provide learning objectives and targets for each individual player. The session plans, attendance records and performance reviews are all detailed on ‘performance clocks’ which provide overviews of individual players’ performance.
 
“Performance Clock” means the application utilised for recording, measuring, monitoring and evidencing all aspects of an Academy Player’s progression, development and education in accordance with the format and procedures to be set by the League.
 
“The aim of the ‘player performance clock’ is to provide evidence of a players’ complete history of training sessions. This will include attendance records, individual target setting and performance reviews.”
 
Town’s Academy has Category 2 status and as such the coaching of age groups Under 15 and older takes place over 46 weeks during the year.
 
See the table below for the minimum hours of coaching that Town has to deliver to its three age group phases (Foundation, Youth and Professional Development).
 
Category 2

Foundation Phase (Under 9 to 11)Youth Development PhaseProfessional Development Phase
Coaching hours per week3 rising to 5 for older Academy Players6 rising to 12 for older Academy players14 reducing to 12 for Academy Players who have commited to the professional squad during the Professional Development Phase
Permitted training modelPart timePart time, HybridFull time

 
The coaching hours above refers to on-the-pitch coaching and excludes time spent by players during matches or preparation. In addition to the coaching table the Club spends time with players within each phase in other environments away from the pitch to assist them in developing key technical, tactical, physical and psychological skills. Time is also spent on analysis and looking back over match and training videos to help players understand and improve upon particular skills. 

Town’s training ground Canalside Complex houses two full size classrooms which are equipped with laptops and smart boards. The rooms allow the Club’s Youth Development players to focus on their studies, working under the supervision and guidance of qualified teachers. Education is an important area within the EPPP and as part of the Youth Development players’ scholarships.  The scholars are able to follow up their progress with feedback provided online.
 
In accordance to the EPPP’s Youth Development Rules, which states that that a coach to Academy players ratio should be 1:10, every age group from Under-9 to Under-18 has two coaches who perform every training session. 
 
As a Category 2 Academy the Club currently runs two Development Centres based at Leeds Road Playing Fields, Huddersfield and Hemsworth, near Wakefield.
 
Development Centre means an establishment operated by a Club in England or Wales for the coaching of Children which is not an Academy and includes any such establishment by whatever name or title it is known.
 
Two further Development Centres are currently in planning as the Club looks to give youngsters as many opportunities as possible whilst extending the reach of the Huddersfield Town Academy recruitment arm. The coaches at the Centres are all employed by Huddersfield Town and have particular expertise in coaching at the Foundation Phase. 

In part four we will look at the EPPP’s games programme and education and welfare.  

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