Morecambe FC Academy runs in two parts, the Foundation Phase and the Development Phase, the focus of sessions and the skills that get taught will vary depending on each level or age group.
Our Academy consists of U9s - U15s age groups, who train three-times-a-week and play matches at least once a week, on top of their school schedules.
The Foundation Phase (U9s - U12s) is based around building a technical base, which can be developed as they progress through the different levels. During this stage, they play mixed format games 5v5 and 9v9. This allows the players to be more involved in the games and get more touches of the ball, so they can put their technical skills into practice.
When players reach the Development Phase (U13 – U16s), the focus is to maintain everything they have learnt in the technical corner whilst starting to introduce tactical challenges and information. The players will start to receive more detail around their specific roles in the team within an 11v11 format but many of them won’t have a defined position yet and will play across a number of positions within a unit.
This allows the players to experience different positions and allows the Academy to start to match up their strengths to the positions, on the pitch, that the Academy sees them playing in as they progress towards the U18s age group.
Throughout the season, there are also occasional fixtures and football festival events where the U13 and U14 age groups have the opportunity to go back to playing smaller sided games, as it can help them experience different challenges within the competitive fixtures.
For the U15s and U16s the focus is more on performance. The Academy players compete in the Floodlit Cup competition at U15s, which is how they introduce a competitive environment to the players. It enables them to look at the pressure and the demands that come along with this, and also shows them how they can develop effective strategies to cope with these demands.
Players at this stage will also start to play in a specific position and learn in more detail about the role of that position and how it contributes to the team when we are in possession, out of possession and in transition.
The tactical focus ramps up gradually from U13 to U16, and at the stage, a few players will start to train with the Scholars and also attend their Saturday fixtures. This provides new challenges and a higher level of physical, tactical, technical and psychological demands.
The young Shrimps play every weekend and the groups will alternate who plays at home and who plays away. They face other Academy clubs within the North West region, and so far this season, they have played against teams such as Blackpool, Bolton, Port Vale, Rochdale and Shrewsbury Town.
Speaking after a recent weekend of games, Lead Youth Development Coach Gerry McGinty says this stage is about playing development games and not about the goals.
“Most of our work within the youth development phase at the younger end is based around building upon the technical base that they should have acquired during their journey through the foundation phase,” he said.
“Of course they do feel a little bit of competitiveness, but it is more important for us to work on those technical and tactical skills, it isn’t about scoring goals.
“The best players in the world are not only technically, tactically and physically excellent but they also make the correct decisions when under pressure. This is something we focus on with our U15s and U16s as part of the tactical element of their syllabus and try to include in all of our sessions.
“Our role as coaches within the YDP is to ensure the players are equipped with the correct skills and prepared for the demands of playing when they reach the U18s.
“We also have to thank the parents and guardians who travel throughout the week and every weekend, without their help and dedication to the Academy, it wouldn’t be possible.”