Motivating and Engaging the Maturing Learner


The Maturing Learner is more self-aware and faces different pressures: socially and physically. By now most players will possess an element of technical understanding and grasp of the game. This needs to be taken into account when planning training and game-days.


Be aware of physical changes that may affect coordination, speed and so on. The image (right) shows common ages for growth spurts.



  • Ensure players are warmed up: can the warm-up activity link straight into your session?

  • It can be effective to start with a small-sided game, reward good play with extended game-time

  • Discuss formations and systems...canvas opinion. What style of football should be played?

  • Ensure competition in sessions to energise and engage

  • The social corner is important at this age, be aware and work with it

  • Debrief, discuss and get into the habit of top and tailing your sessions

  • Ensure discipline with ball-hungry drills, once finished gather them as they distract learners!

Growth Spurts

Formations: Playing to your Strengths


The Maturing Learner should be encouraged to think of the team as a whole - as well as their individual role within it. Involve the players in agreeing a style of football that they would like to produce and one that harnesses the strengths of individuals. 


Gaining agreement on a footballing style (when in possession and 'in balance') allows the players to anticipate play more effectively e.g. making runs, finding space, providing support and is also highly satisfying for players when they feel they are contributing to a formation that works! Players can also understand their responsibilites within the system and work on role-specific improvements.


Before deciding on a formation, consider the following in regard to your players:


  • Technical ability

  • Pace

  • Concentration

  • Preferred role

  • Physicality

  • Vision

  • Game-knowledge

  • Awareness

  • Adaptability

  • Confidence

  • Creativity

  • Resilience



The choice of formation should take individual's preferences into account (e.g. if overloaded with attackers, can the team work on fast transition from front to back in training?). Training can be planned to bring the formation to life and encourage interplay between and through the thirds.