Long Term Player Development (LTPD)
The 4 Corners
A basic introduction to the model
A model for development offers a framework for analysis and support within which anyone concerned with a player’s development has a clear picture of a range of influencing factors which may need addressing.
For example; chronological age and its relationship with early or late maturity in all of The 4 Corners; Technical/Tactical. Physical. Psychological. Social.
The 4 Corner Long Term Player Development Model (LTPD) described here offers a structured and flexible approach which addresses the needs of young player’s and considers a relatively holistic concept within the model.
Before we embark on the pathway for player development its worth looking at the rationale or reason for the use of "The 4 Corner" model alongside an explanation regarding the model for "Long Term Player Development".
The concept of "The 4 Corners" can be applied across the whole spectrum of football and supports player development whilst addressing differences; e.g. age, gender, maturity, ability, opportunity, difference and experience. Just how your development model grows will be defined by the environment you coach in, whether recreational or professional game.
LTPD – The Rationale.
‘Long Term Player Development’ is a term used in conjunction with ‘Deliberate Practice’ most of which is focused on a sport or activity; in this case football. Research has established a pattern of response which is demonstrated by performers who reach the highest point of their sport and are described as being at the pinnacle of their chosen activity.
The findings invariably report the fact that deliberate practice over time is required for the full potential to be reached. However; extensive deliberate practice alone does not fully explain achievement. Luck, time, opportunity and chance also play a part.
Practice demands a focus and commitment; these factors make it deliberate and not just repetition.
Many factors affect long term player development; one involves the motivation to get better with support from parents/carers, teachers and coaches etc. Whilst another involves deliberate practice over time; this feature is dependent to some extent on opportunity. Repetition has to be considered; e.g. frequency (how often), intensity (how hard) and duration (how long).
LTPD can be applied across the whole football ability range and embraces at one end those players who are in recreational football. Whilst the other end of the range demonstrates the players who have a real desire to get better.
Feedback and Mentoring provide the opportunity to reflect and are essential for learning throughout the player pathway; both elements are vital and are reliant on experienced people.
Whilst considering long term development as an over-riding concept over many years, the attention to medium term development has to be established; e.g. this month – this year, along with short term development; e.g. today – this week – this month. As such, although the developing player is considered within a football environment, they are also encouraged to enjoy mixed sporting activities throughout the early schooling period.
The 4 Corner Model
The 4 Corner Model can be applied to all players, regardless of age or ability.
The player’s are all different and at any point in their development, players will have different needs. The skill of the coach is based on how to adapt individual sessions or indeed a program of work to meet individual needs.
One player may need a lot of support in the technical corner, another in the physical and so on. The process of meeting individual needs is often referred to as “differentiation” and the skill of the coach is to provide slightly different yet appropriate programs of support to best meet the needs of the players they coach. The emphasis on the different corners may change depending on where the player is on their development pathway.
Any development model in football has to recognise that first and foremost the ‘technical’ development.
(e.g. technique/tactical; understanding the game and appropriate decision making) are developmental priorities most of the time. The needs of the player will ebb and flow in any corner and the technical corner is no different in this context to any other.
This technical support will invariably change according to the needs of the individual player.
Ideally, every player would have an individual program in all four corners in order that they could develop maximally. However, because we often train together as teams or squads, and because we work with players who have a range of needs, individual training programs are not always possible all of the time.
It is here that the player can take some responsibility for their own development.
Although a depth of knowledge and application is required within other disciplines; e.g. physical, psychological and social development, their contribution varies according to the needs of the player at any point in time.
For some players their need for added support from these three areas may be minimal, whilst others may need a more applied and specific support. Whichever need is applicable, it’s important to recognise the part that each support discipline plays, whilst not losing sight of their place in the matrix of player development.
Whilst these specialist contributions are invaluable, they remain in proportion within the wider development plan by meeting the appropriate needs of the player.
As such The 4 Corner model is; inter-disciplinary, inter-dependent and inter-related in the fullest sense.
Each corner is part of a development continuum to a greater or lesser degree.
The sum of the whole can exceed the sum of the individual parts.
The model considers the interface and blending of The 4 Corners (technical/tactical, psychological, physical, and social) by contributing together at various stages of the player’s development; alternatively the model can be applied with a more specific focus on an individual corner if required, thereby meeting individual needs.
For example; a technical practice design could recognise that the outcomes may be either specific, mostly in one corner, or multiple if required, e.g. a turning task that is technically/tacticaly based might also produce physical, psychological or social outcomes, simply by the design of the practice.
As such; practice planning, design and learning outcomes can be considered in all of The 4 Corners.
The wider aspects of the model demonstrate the many contributions that need consideration. The player is central to the model and if given the opportunity to participate may on occasions be in need of support (to a greater or lesser degree) in all of the areas shown in this graphic.
The player is supported initially by The 4 Corners as the main pillars of development; each of which can support the individual player’s needs as required. Chronological age alongside the levels of maturity is considered in each corner. Players may be mature or immature for their age in many aspects of each corner; e.g. within the technical corner a player may be mature in respect of their technique but immature with regard to decision making in matches (e.g. tactical). As such the differences between players have to be understood by the coach and managed accordingly.
Consequently; intervention is not always required as we will see later in the age review. Learning is inextricably linked to all aspects of the model. Development describes the process the player goes through.
The 4 Corners LTPD model – a summary
1. Technical practices and match play have to be appropriate to the ability level of the individual player. The model seeks to address individual needs by varying activities. Optional roles are considered, along with some specific practice designs for all age groups.
2. Physical growth and performance is linked to chronological and biological age, this includes programming for frequency, intensity and duration of activities. The physiology of growth includes movement skills and may progress to more structured adaptation programmes for the mature youth player.
3. Psychological development and self-concept in the growing child is considered; this includes sports performance psychology and relates to behavioural learning together with state, trait and personality issues. The learning programme for team sports intelligence is included within this subject area.
4. Social influences may be the mistakenly understated corner of this model. The subject is reviewed for life at home and school, in the street and football club, it includes the possible effects of peer group impact together with personal, professional, lifestyle management and relationships.
These four areas are interwoven throughout the model and demonstrate the need for the coach, player and family to maintain a level of interaction and communication.
Note;; the ‘psychological-social’ relationships invariably influence the model and play an integral part within most activities.
‘The 4 Corners Long Term Player Development’ model is designed and encouraged to grow in content and improve with the increasing experience of the developer whilst meeting the ever changing and varied needs of the individual player.
The model you develop is unique to both you and the player and is shaped by your environment!
The 4 Corners model recognises different aspects of football which incorporate a range of participation; some are spontaneous whilst others may be regulated.
Meanwhile; ‘The 4 Corners' will feature in Long Term Player Development (LTPD) either by design or by chance.
Designed by our Player Development Consultant Craig Simmons