Advanced Team Fundamentals II – System 🆚 System

Specific Content: When to start training them?



A team is working on specific content

Before we start talking about ages or stages, we believe it is necessary to clarify well what terms such as “specificity” or “transferability” mean. Because from our point of view, there are often misunderstandings around these topics when discussing them.

The learning process in football, as in any other sport and in any type of ability is specific. We learn to do something specific: juggle with a ball, control the ball without opposition, mark individually, or attack the gap between opponents in a 7vs7 situation. Soccer players need to master many concepts in order to play well in training and matches. We need to sort these concepts as players need to learn them from when they are children until they retire. Players go through different stages and in each of them, there is content that is more appropriate to be taught than others. In other sports, when we teach closed skills, such as for instance a swimming style or a type of jump in gymnastics, the athlete does not need to modify anything of what they practiced during the training sessions when they execute those abilities during the competition.

In football, this is completely different. When we talk about open abilities, such as for example passing the ball or controlling the ball during a match, the football player will need to use all the learnings from the training sessions and adapt them to the requirements of each action. This process is what we call learning transfer.

Training Drill Examples. Youth. Methodology. Lesson 2. Ekkono Coaches Academy membership

Taking this into account, the closer these learnings (these will always be specific) are to the competition, the better. And therefore, it could seem we are suggesting that we should train children from an early age in all the skills required in football, but that’s not the case. And this is because as children – their physical and cognitive capabilities do not allow them -they cannot learn content such as: creating and using spaces in a collective way, dueling for aerial balls, etc.

And in this point, it looks like we reached a cul-de-sac in terms of coaching children and teenagers. On the one hand, in the second paragraph we mentioned that all learnings must be specific and as coaches we want our players to learn abilities which are close to the game reality. However due to players’ lack of maturity – physical or cognitive – we cannot train them in all the content we would like.

Therefore, many coaches decide to train what they call non-specific content in early stages, like for instance: dribble through cones, pass the ball to a teammate (without opposition), etc. And, in reality, what happens is that kids are learning specific abilities that afterwards will not be able to easily transfer to the real competition, as the difficulty level of dribbling past a cone, for example, is very different to the difficulty of overtaking an opponent.


What the Ekkono Method proposes is to always train specific content, adapted to the players’ aptitudes at each age and sorted by stages: initiation, specialization and performance. When players are very young, we will, for example, train our players to protect the ball from and opponent or try to overtake them. Later, we will teach them how to pass the ball to a teammate with advantage in a training drill with a reduced number of teammates and opponents. When the player is older, we will plan content such as the defensive coverage of a teammate. And finally, the player will learn abilities such as use the spatial advantages generated by a specific game structure (for instance, GK-4-3-3 vs GK-4-4-2).

In fact, what we are proposing is to always train specific content. The difference is that at the beginning the player will train more simple abilities and as they grow older they will start learning more complex ones, avoiding to waste too much time training abilities which are very far from the reality of a football game.

Want to learn more about Training Methodology?

In case you want to know more about the different methodologies you can use for training and how to adapt the content to the player’s age and skill level, we recommend you two options: Training Methodology Course (10h) and Youth section inside our membership.

In the Training Methodology course, we explain how to create your own training drills and sessions following the Ekkono Method, and taking into account the player’s age and skill level. In this course we go through which elements you should use during the first part of the training session and which ones should be used during the main part of the training. Also, we are going to show you how to manage the information during the session and give you some behavioural guidelines to apply both in training sessions and in the competition.

Also, we recommend you checking the Youth section we offer inside our membership. There are 4 blocks of content (Methodology, Planning, Game Analysis & Physical Fitness), each with 8-10 lessons. In these lessons, you will learn how to design training sessions for youth players, when to teach each concept based on the player’s age, which type of concepts should be taught for the offensive and defensive phases, and how you can improve your young player’s physical condition. Each lesson has a self-assessment activity or quiz at the end, to ensure the maximum comprehension.

Find out more information by following this link.


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