Youth Development Conference: Schedule and Content

OUR Youth Development Conference on June 5th promises to be of interest to anyone who works with young players.

There will be top insights from leading industry figures at this one-day event at Manchester's AJ Bell Stadium.

You'll be able to find out how Belgium became the gold standard for youth development with Kris Van Der Haegen, how homegrown players became central to Norwich's promotion push with Sporting Director Stuart Webber, and why understanding the teenage brain is key to coaching with Dr Perry Walters.

Academy Manager Leigh Bromby will explain how Huddersfield focus on professional development, while Sarah Lowden will explain why the foundation phase is crucial for Reading. Meanwhile, Liverpool fitness coach John Hill will look at the physical development of young players.

And that's not all. Former Manchester City analyst John McGuigan, who now works as a strategist for industry experts Hudl, will give the lowdown on Academy analysis.

Plus, we will have a Spirit of the Streets demonstration with Box Soccer, followed by a panel discussion involving Kris Van Der Haegen and ex-Scotland international John Colquhoun. There will be a hot and cold buffet lunch as well as refreshments.

It promises to be a fantastic day. Here's more...


Kris Van Der Haegen: The Belgian Way

The Director of Coach Education for Belgium will give insights into one of the most respected youth development programmes in the world.

After the country crashed out in the first round of Euro 2000, which it was co-hosting, there was a comprehensive review of the way everything was done.

“The key for change was coach education,” Van Der Haegen explains.

The result was a rise from 66th to top place in the world rankings and a programme that has become a template for other countries, including Germany.

Stuart Webber: Building a Strategy for Youth

The Norwich City Sporting Director will explain how he developed a strategy with youth at the core.

“We’ve got top young players in this country, probably the best in the world,” Webber says. “But someone has to give these players an opportunity and then put trust in them. As a club, you have to support the coach in that.”

Norwich are on the verge of promotion to the Premier League, with several homegrown players having made key contributions for them this season.

Leigh Bromby: Focusing on the Professional Development Phase 

The former Premier League defender, who has been Huddersfield’s Academy Manager since January 2018, will lift the lid on the club’s bespoke games programme.

This season, the Terriers have run sides from Under-17s up only - even though they have invested more money into their Academy than ever before.

It means they have focussed on the PDP phase and the players who are capable of progressing to the first team. This has involved a bespoke games programme, a different means of recruitment, a change in the calendar, specialist performance programmes and more strategic loans.

Dr Perry Walters: Why Understanding the Teenaged Brain is Key to Coaching

Perry is a consultant psychologist and coach for Bristol City. He completed his PhD on adolescent decision making in elite Academy football and will explain how understanding the neurology of the teenaged brain should influence the way you coach.

“In the last 10 years, new brain imaging technology has shown that the networks in the frontal region that underpin judgement, decision-making and control of emotions are still developing well into the mid-20s," Walters says.

John Hill: Physical Development of Youth Players

John, who is Fitness Coach for Liverpool’s Under-18s, will explore how to develop the physical performance of Academy players.

The former Hearts and MK Dons Head of Sports Science will look at the differences in physical programmes for youth and first-team players, what to do at what ages, and explain his overall strategy of creating “robust players who are capable of long-term progression".

John McGuigan: How analysis can empower players

The former Manchester City lead development analyst, who is now senior strategist for Hudl, will discuss how video analysis can empower young players.

Blackburn Under-23 coach Damien Johnson discussed this in a piece with TGG last year. "Instead of the game being coach-led, as it was when I played, there is now a lot of player ownership," the former Northern Ireland international said.

John will explore this in more detail at the Youth Development Conference.

READ MORE: Youth Development Conference announced

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