Analysing the Young Learner During Practice

Analysing the Young Learner During Practice

This is a very hard thing to do at youth level as many validate the process through results and form their analysis upon this. In youth soccer even if something is done well it does not guarantee that it will finish up well and as in the example I give below, even if something finishes up well it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was done well. This can cause all sorts of problems when differentiating between performance and learning. It is complex.

This was part of the discussion during a B Youth National Diploma course I was holding in Stockholm recently. We discussed the sequence shown below. Perception action coupling helps our young learners become attuned to the dynamics of the game. As Mark Upton said in a recent blog postenabling young players to explore, we will see the variability so crucial to learning”.

Press 2v2

press 2v2

2v2 (reds versus blue): The focus is on pressing and eventually winning the ball. Here we see that in this context the body shape of the red player as he presses is incorrect when you consider that there is an overlapping blue player (a break down in perception action coupling). The blue player in possession has not seen the overlap and turns inward to two red players (a break down in perception action coupling). Despite the fact that the initial press was incorrect for this situation the reds still won the ball and scored a goal. The performance gave the desired result but what was learned?

I felt that this situation afforded some good learning opportunities for coaches and players. It is important for the coach to be able to differentiate between performance and learning especially if we want to develop together with our young players a long term view on learning, one that promotes retention and facilitates transfer from practice to the game.

What learning opportunities are on offer in our training and coach education environment?

What conditions do we create that embrace the adaptive capacity of our young learners?

And how can we help our coaches to tune in and embrace this?

By helping our players and coaches become perceptually attuned to the dynamics of the game we help them to differentiate between performance and learning


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