For each player we must decide if players are to play with players of their same age or with older players.
Questions we need to ask of our club players. Do they improve faster by playing against older opponents? Or do they improve faster by successful actions?
An older opponent means more pressure. The player has to think and act quicker. And weaker opponents enable you to increase skills faster because you can make more successful moves and actions. This raises confidence!
If a player is playing against physically stronger players, then they may be discouraged from individual initiatives. The pressure may be too great and in this case they should not play with an older team.
Another drawback of playing against stronger opponents is the fact of the actions of the player relies on making the right decisions and helping each other out, while at this age we may want them to develop their technical skills.
Sometimes it is good to send a player to an older team that is less dependent on individual initiatives, but more in depth of finding tactical solutions. This will raise pressure and he will find even better solutions.
You need pressure to force players to be sharp and precise, but not too much so they no longer dare to do certain things.
It must be a positive stimulus, challenging, yet accessible. If too much pressure…means the player does not take the initiative, then little is gained.
In the early period, the youngest group at Prince William plays against teams of the same age. Now playing is easier, because you can make more moves. But here, after a while, there may be no point. If all the moves or actions are successful, and the opponent’s pressure is too low, then the player stops learning. For this reason, we then have several if not all player’s play against teams that are one year older.
The balance between pressure and skills must be right, if the barrier is too high then this curbs development. If it is too low, then the player learns little, if anything.
So, the trainer must have good insight at which is best for player development. In addition to professional trainers you also need attractive and challenging training equipment and good examples. This is important to accelerate the development of talented youth players