News & Updates

FA changes to youth football – what’s in store?

The structure of English youth football will be changing from the start of the 2013/14 season.

That is when the FA’s new youth development proposals will start to become reality. The changes have two main strands:

(i) a revised player pathway
(ii) a flexible, child-centred approach to competitive football

So what will the changes mean for your club, team or league?

Youth football change #1: Revised player pathway

Key features:

* New 5v5 format for U7s and U8s
* New 9v9 format for U11s and U12s
* New formats phased in for U7s & U11s only in 2013/14 season
* Mandatory for all age-groups from 2014/15 season
* U9s and U10s continue to play 7v7 and U13s upwards continue to play 11-a-side
* Age-appropriate pitch and goal sizes (see table below)

190Key benefits:

* More touches of the ball
* More goals and scoring attempts
* More one-v-one encounters and dribbling attempts
* Leads to increased enjoyment
* Helps develop technical skills
* Provides better preparation for 11-a-side football

Youth football change #2: Child-friendly approach to competition

Key features:
* Traditional league table season to be phased out for all kids up to U11s
* Phased introduction of flexible competition starting 2013/14 (see table below)
* Seasons will be split into thirds
* Each third to feature developmental matches and trophy events
* Trophy events will increase in duration as kids get older (see table below)
* Short-term burst of competition for even youngest kids (U7s & U8s)
* Parents and coaches encouraged to drop a win-at-all-costs approach

Key benefits:
* Puts emphasis on learning & development
* Puts kids at heart of football process
* Reduces adult-driven pressure on kids to win
* Winning & losing still at heart of game
* Makes more matches competitive for more kids
* Leagues will ensure trophy events are evenly matched
* Teams can be moved between mini-seasons to match ability
* Reduces likelihood of 18-0 drubbings – no good for anyone

June 2014 update – youth football progress report

If you have any questions regarding the new structure to youth football in England, please read our interview with the FA’s Nick Levett published in June 2014, which provides a progress report on the changes to youth football and answers a number of frequently-asked questions.

In particular, for all those people asking whether kids can ‘play up a year’ from the start of the 2014/15 season, all will be revealed in the article!

Youth football changes get “positive” feedback – Nick Levett (June 2014)

COMMENTS

D Langley says:

Thanks Lewis and well said. I think the worst thing for me was that the coach made all the right noises about developing the players without pressure but then come tournament day, his actions contradicted with his words. My lad is a good player, not the strongest but willing, with a good touch and pace. He spent his first season in goal but then wanted to play out so he is a little naive positionally (he’s 8 years old so funnily enough he would be!).

He never let the team down, even when he played as a defender. Defending and tackling was not his strongest suit but he would bring the ball out from the back coolly and I think the coaches were far more nervous than he ever was.

The team got to a final which was drawn 0-0 and my lad and the other sub didn’t even get a minute, despite the lads being out on their feet towards the end of the game and in need of fresh legs. So the jubilant coaches celebrated their penalty shoot out win and my lad cried all the way home because the coach had lied to him and said he would get on. No one gets a second chance to do that to my son.

July 28, 2014 at 11:41

Lewis Evans says:

Quoting D Langley . . . .

“Unfortunately there are some coaches who think winning meaningless tournaments with pound shop trophies and medals constitutes success. Success is keeping a group of 9/10 kids together for a number of years and seeing them all develop, learn to value each other and depend on each other.”

Playing a 10 minute tournament game teaches the kids what and helps the coaches with even less.

Arrange two or three friendly matches where you can move boys around in different positions, learn how they react to situations and look to develop your coaching sessions to help them with those situations.

July 25, 2014 at 14:18

D Langley says:

David Bracewell, Vanessa, Ms Walker, G Rushton and others. No, it’s not right that your children should be treated like that, I dare say by such coaches who are whinging here about the positive changes in the guise of poorly set out streams of consciousness.

Ultimately, the power is in the hands of the parents and players – if your child is treated badly, do what I did, vote with your feet and make sure that everyone – including the coach – knows why you’ve left – word will get around!

There are many coaches out there who do treat *all* their players well and will give everyone a fair crack of the whip and equal playing time.

Unfortunately there are some coaches who think winning meaningless tournaments with pound shop trophies and medals constitutes success. Any fool can get 7 really good players together and do that. Success is keeping a group of 9/10 kids together for a number of years and seeing them all develop, learn to value each other and depend on each other.

Players progress at different rates and the so called stars at age 7/8/9 can easily fade and be outshone a few years later – likewise the players who struggle early on, if kept involved and engaged with the game, can suddenly spark and become really good players.

July 22, 2014 at 09:57

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