I have called this series “The Swedish talent factory” on numerous occasion and therefore I would like to offer you an insight to how “The Factory” functions. In this bonus post I will endeavour to do so.
Youth development giants and true “Talent Factory” Ajax and their “Total Football” strive to develop players with the same basic skill set, making them versatile and able to play different roles and positions.
Influenced by this, Brommapojkarna have developed their own “BP Style” with an ambition of developing players of a certain type, not primarily for playing different roles, but more for fitting the fast-paced creative style of play that we’re still struggling a bit to implement. Molding players from an early age into fitting this system will surely help us in the long run and make us less dependant on signing foreign players when the Swedish player pool lacks in creativity and technique.
To build true “BP Style” players we look at 4 different groups of attributes that we call Skill, Perception, Movement and Character:
- Skill (Technique, First Touch, Passing)
Basically the player’s ability to do something constructive with the ball and to do it straight after receiving it. A key to fast-paced football is firstly to minimize the time between receiving and delivering the ball and secondly, being able to make your delivery reach the right destination.
- Perception (Anticipation, Vision, Decisions)
Equally important as a player is to give yourself the best chance to make the most of the ball once you get it and then have the vision and decision making to identify the best possible solution. There is little use of great passing if you don’t know where to pass it, so to speak.
- Movement (Acceleration, Pace, Off the Ball)
To be able to keep the ball, the decision making starts before you receive it. You need to be making the right decisions before you get the ball in order to put yourself in the best possible position to receive it. Then you need the quickness to get to the ball before your opponent and/or out-run him with the ball at your feet.
- Character (Determination, Teamwork, Composure)
All the above is wasted if the player isn’t prepared to put in the hard work, both on and off the pitch. We strive to give our players all the mental attributes needed to succeed, both in an isolated match situation, but also as professional football players in the long run, be it at Brommapojkarna or elsewhere.
All this adds up to the perhaps somewhat square-minded BP Style Rating, a numerical rating between 0 and 80 summed up by the average in the four different groups of attributes. This is how we mainly will measure the abilities and development of our youth players. For example, let’s look at young Mikael Jönsson, a recent Academy intake, below:
His rating is as follows:
Skill = 9.67 – (Technique 11 + First Touch 10 + Passing 8)/3
Perception = 7.00 – (Anticipation 8 + Vision 7 + Decisions 6)/3
Movement = 10.67 – (Acceleration 12 + Pace 9 + Off the Ball 11)/3
Character = 9.67 – (Determination 9 + Teamwork 9 + Composure 11)/3
BP Style Rating = 37.00 – (9.67+7.00+10.67+9.67)
So, the first thing you notice is that his rating is a long way from 80, which isn’t really important right now. What’s important is to use the rating to identify weaknesses (Perception) and strengths (Movement) to decide what needs extra work in coming years. What’s also important is to, and this should be done as quickly as possible, raise his Character rating, which in turn will help his own ability to develop.
The individual player development at the Academy is divided into three phases:
- Preparation phase: 15-17 years old
In the first phase all outfield players are trained in the same way, regardless of position. Every player train as an Advanced playmaker, since the attributes trained with this role are the best suited for playing our style of fast-paced technical football. Important technical abilities are Dribbling, First touch, Passing and Technique. Of equal importance are the mental attributes Anticipation, Composure, Decision, Off the ball, Teamwork and Vision. Physically we focus on Acceleration and Pace.
Players are also assigned an additional physical training focus to strengthen physical weaknesses. With this training regime we cover 11 out of 12 of the key attributes of the “BP style”. We also try to tutor players extensively, primarily in order to change Determination and Personality to the better if needed. During the entirety of this phase the player remains at the club, since we firmly believe that no other Swedish clubs are able to offer the level of youth training that we can, making loan spells ultimately counter-productive.
- Development phase: 18-19 years old
In the second phase we change player’s training towards more position specific training, while still keeping many of our key attributes in focus. For example a wing back utilises the “Complete Wing-back” training regime, giving them decent training time in key attributes while still working on position-specific attributes such as Marking and Tackling.
Tutoring still plays a big part in this phase, but isn’t totally focused on upping mental attributes. A player in this phase with sufficient Determination and the right personality may very well get tutored in order to pick up certain player traits. He may also be trained in order to acquire certain traits. If the individual player’s development becomes stagnant in this phase, he may very well face a loan spell at a club willing to give him first-team football in order to give his development a boost.
- Performance phase: 20-21 years old
The players graduate from our Academy program at the age of 21, but that doesn’t mean that they will be kept in the U19s or U21s until they turn 22. At the time of finishing the second phase and entering the final development phase the player has hopefully improved significantly in key attributes. If so, the player will need a lot of time playing competitive first-team football in order to further increase his skills. Preferably this playing time is gained in our own first team, but that’s not always the case. If the player is deemed not ready for first-team football at Brommapojkarna, but still shows promise of becoming a first team player in the future, he will be loaned out on half season loans, facing a re-assessment upon return.
The three phases are primarily used for players coming through the Academy from the intake at 16 years old. An 18 year old player coming in from another club may need to do his first year at the club, regardless of his age, in the first Development Phase, based on him simply lacking some key attributes.
Hopefully this approach will see us produce more Academy players for our first team and also give us the type of players needed to fulfil our vision of beautiful and effective football!
The next episode
In the next episode we will look at the entire 2019 season, followed by a separate episode entirely focused on the Academy and the development of our BP Style players. Hopefully you’ll like the new setup!
Thanks for the read, I hope you liked it as much as I did writing it!
- Twitter: @MikaelinhoFM
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