My time at Reading FC Academy

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jake_cohen
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My time at Reading FC Academy

by jake_cohen » 27 Dec 2017 22:01

Reading FC
At Reading, I was able to view a combined U15/16’s training session, which was a very light session as it was the day before a match for the boys. This visit was mainly focused on hearing about the pathways and principles which the club have in place, all the way from their under 6’s through to their first team. The Reading Academy mission statement being, ‘Brilliantly technical players, who work tremendously hard.’ Hearing about the technical director, which the club have put in place and who is constantly in contact with Academy teams, to maintain continuity in styles of player which the club are trying to develop was also very interesting. I believe that the outcomes of this will begin to show in the coming 2 or 3 years, when more Academy player progress through the system to the first team and reserves squads.

The training session which the U15/16 boys focused on was a finishing practice, working on volleyed and headed finishes. This involved balls being clipped in from about 30 metres away and either trying to head the ball in or volley it past the goalkeeper, involving different scoring systems, the feeding coming from different angles and also different ways of striking the ball. It was a fun session, but did allow me to see the level of player which the club is attracting/producing at one of the historically best academy systems in England.

https://jakecohen92.wordpress.com/2017/ ... all-clubs/

Dick Habbin's hairdo
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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by Dick Habbin's hairdo » 28 Dec 2017 09:31

Interesting little snippet and the comparisons with West Ham and Fulham on the blog.

I'd actually like to know a lot more about how each club identifies youngsters, the programmes they have in place for individuals, and details of different skills training sessions.

Nice one, Mr Cohen.

Hound
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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by Hound » 28 Dec 2017 12:45

Could tell you a little bit on that.

The club run ‘soccer schools’ during school holidays which are run by club coaches. Anyone can come to these. If they think the kid has a bit of ability they are invited to their development centres. There is then 4 levels - development, advanced, shadow academy (elite) and the academy which the good kids would progress through

I understand some scouting is done at junior games but never seen someone who is obviously a scout at one

This is all from the age of 6 which shows how Young they start them

Watched some of the academy kids who were about 8. They were pretty impressive I must say

All the coaching is very much technique based. Interestingly a lot of the kids were quite small, which wouldn’t have happened in my day - basically the kids who got scouted were just the biggest and quickest (not that I’m bitter or anything :) )

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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by Elm Park Kid » 28 Dec 2017 18:28

I hear/read a lot that attitude is almost as important as ability as to whether a young player wil make it or not. There's so many that get to 15/16 and just decide that they are not willing to give the kind of commitment they need to to become a top player. I wonder if that's why we struggle in the UK to really bring through enough top players - in poorer countries and those with a better work mentality the kids just have a much stronger desire to see it through.

Hound
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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by Hound » 28 Dec 2017 19:07

Might be some truth in that

As the article points out though, we’ve just won a load at age group level, maybe things are improving


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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by Royalwaster » 28 Dec 2017 19:08

I used to manage a boy's team around here and we regularly had scouts from Reading (and other teams) at matches from U8s onwards. Our best player joined Southampton for the U9s ... a maybe interesting bit of info is that this year (U15s) all the players in his age group were released apart from him, so he now either plays for the U14s or U16s on match-days. Think of all those players who were with the club for 6 years though hoping to make it in the big time and they all got released. Wonder whether he'll make it.

Hound
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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by Hound » 28 Dec 2017 19:13

Understand obviously it’s very hard for those kids but I think the clubs generally try to do their best to manage expectations

Still must be an amazing experience to train and play with fully trained coaches and the best other kids around

jake_cohen
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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by jake_cohen » 28 Dec 2017 23:37

I think that management of expectations is so important. I think the stats show across the board that far less than 1% of kids who come through an academy ever make it. That's why kids work so hard whilst they're there.

As for scouting, I know that the club do travel to look at players, more players at elite teams I believe, within their radius allowed to sign. As for others, like many sports, if you don't make the original bunch, it's hard to break in later but it can happen.

In Australia where I live, a lot of people complain about the representative football (academies in the UK or similar) is a 'closed shop' but if you're training at that more elite environment for 140 sessions (40 weeks x 3 sessions + 20 matches) rather than once a week for 20 weeks plus 15 matches at a park football level, no wonder why it's hard to break into the upper tiers.

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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by SCIAG » 29 Dec 2017 13:56

Hound wrote:Could tell you a little bit on that.

The club run ‘soccer schools’ during school holidays which are run by club coaches. Anyone can come to these. If they think the kid has a bit of ability they are invited to their development centres. There is then 4 levels - development, advanced, shadow academy (elite) and the academy which the good kids would progress through

I understand some scouting is done at junior games but never seen someone who is obviously a scout at one

This is all from the age of 6 which shows how Young they start them

Watched some of the academy kids who were about 8. They were pretty impressive I must say

All the coaching is very much technique based. Interestingly a lot of the kids were quite small, which wouldn’t have happened in my day - basically the kids who got scouted were just the biggest and quickest (not that I’m bitter or anything :) )

Scouting is much more important than the soccer schools and is how the club recruits most of their younger academy players (older ones tend to come from other clubs). The bulk of it is focused on younger players (small-sided games) and the scouts are usually very obvious. Chelsea are usually better at snapping up the most talented players in the area (Bridcutt and Solanke for example) which is partly because they have better scouts and partly because they have links with some very influential people in the local game. The club have tried to replicate this, and some of the Chelsea people aren't as involved any more, and quite a few parents will avoid Chelsea because of negative perceptions about long-term prospects, but Solanke won't be the last. A few other clubs scout around here but they're usually choosing the players that we've passed on.

There's definitely an improvement on the physical side of things. I think that's partly because we want more technical players and also partly a recognition that a lot of small players will fill out when they get older. Tom Holmes and Ethan Coleman in the U18s are good examples. Better to have seven Liam Kellys at U12 and watch their physiques develop than having seven Bas Savages and struggling to work on their technique.


jake_cohen
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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by jake_cohen » 29 Dec 2017 20:00

Hound wrote:Understand obviously it’s very hard for those kids but I think the clubs generally try to do their best to manage expectations

Still must be an amazing experience to train and play with fully trained coaches and the best other kids around


I think managing expectations is one of the biggest things for an Academy. I think the stats show far less than 1% of any players who pass through an Academy progress to the first team (on average). That's why the players know they need to work so hard.

In Australia, like England, you need to get into the system early to make it, obviously there's some examples of kids coming in late. Some parents don't understand that but shear numbers explain. If you're playing representative football (similar to Academy set up's), you get around 140 sessions (120 training sessions and 20-25 games a year) with higher quality coaching staff. If you play park football, you might have 30-40 training sessions and 18-20 matches with poorer quality players as well.

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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by Hound » 30 Dec 2017 13:22

I’d be interested to know how many kids who got into out full academy (rather than the feeder groups) made it as pros - as in got at least one pro contract, not necessary at Reading

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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by bagman » 30 Dec 2017 14:42

Must be one of the highest percentages in the country

jake_cohen
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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by jake_cohen » 30 Dec 2017 18:35

Hound wrote:I’d be interested to know how many kids who got into out full academy (rather than the feeder groups) made it as pros - as in got at least one pro contract, not necessary at Reading


The statistics are really sobering. Out of all the boys who enter an academy at the age of 9, less than half of 1% make it. Or a make a living from the game either.

http://www.businessinsider.com/michael- ... 017-6?IR=T


jake_cohen
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Re: My time at Reading FC Academy

by jake_cohen » 30 Dec 2017 19:21

Hound wrote:I’d be interested to know how many kids who got into out full academy (rather than the feeder groups) made it as pros - as in got at least one pro contract, not necessary at Reading


The statistics are really sobering. Out of all the boys who enter an academy at the age of 9, less than half of 1% make it. Or a make a living from the game either.

http://www.businessinsider.com/michael- ... 017-6?IR=T

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