Released Academy Players: the next step

Very often ( very often) across all age groups I get calls from parents because their son or daughter has just been released by a professional club. After I have done a 1 to 1 session with them I talk to the player and parents and ask the reasons the club gave. In most cases and this is true, the parents tell me they are not really sure of the reasons why they were released.   Very often I hear the old favourite of ‘he’s not big enough ‘ or ‘can’t cope physically. Its frustrating and a bitter pill to swallow Perhaps there are also more fundamental reasons. Could the clubs be more specific?

So what do these kids do next?

I spoke to an U12 player released from Arsenal 2 months ago. Again wooly reasons but one of them being his ‘decision making’ wasn’t good enough! At 12? Aren’t they coaching that? To be honest after the session it was apparent that various parts of his technical game needed sharpened up. Which is fine but had definitely been neglected.

In May I was approached by another young player who had already been at West Ham, Spurs and now was going to Ipswich. He was in Year 6. Dad told me of the different footballing ethos each club had. How he had started well made a big impact then dropped off and he lost confidence.

I spent a winter working with an u15 at League 1  Academy developing power and explosiveness as well as refining technical skills. Feedback was good throughout the year from he club but again he was released due to size and physical presence.

Agreed everyone goes into the process with their eyes open ( or should do) but its still hard when you are let go. The club doesn’t want you anymore.

What next?

To get into an Academy in the first place you have obviously caught someones eye and shown excellent potential. Its not final though, there is still a mountain to climb. But you had something in the first place. You haven’t progressed and developed as they hoped in the time that they gave you and the conveyor belt keeps rolling.

But we know some kids are fast developers some are slower but you are rarely given that time. But you have that time yourself so keep believing. 

What next though?

It seems it at the time, but its not the end. Push for specific reasons as to why you were released. Turn it into a positive. Those are the areas I need to work on. I need to get better at…. Make it happen. Remember how much you achieved in the first place.

So how do I do that..?

Keep playing football and keep your hours up. You have to keep your hours up! Training and playing  5 times a week minimum. Play at a club that offers you the highest level possible. There are many private academies which offer coaching and representative games against professional academy teams. These can be good and have some good coaches. I have worked at some of these. However the only slight concern being because they are businesses they need numbers to make money and on occasion so called elite sessions were padded out with intermediate players to keep the numbers up.  In general though they are good. Parents should keep an eye on the sessions and to be honest coaches should be Level 3 if coaching elite groups.

PDC’s . These are variable in standard and again although you might be getting to play football check out the quality of the coaching and players involved.

1 to 1 training. Highly recommended of course on a regular basis if it be weekly, fortnightly or whatever you think and can afford. Expect pace in these sessions and a good workout if not, then they are not good enough. Again check out the experience of the coach delivering the session. Are you learning and getting better?

I coach a number of players who combine all of the above so they are playing 5 or 6 days per week and keeping their hours up.

Its a long winding path which will have many twists and turns but if you give up now you’ll never know.

Good Luck the next chapter in your career starts tomorrow.




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