Technical ability. Physical attributes. Tactical awareness. Social skills. Combine the four and what do you get? The best route to developing children into football players capable of making the most of their talents. This is the FA Four Corner model, an approach that underpins the We Make Footballers syllabus.
Franchisees and coaches base their work around the four corners as a process to improve the footballing ability of their players at the same time as developing skills that will serve them well in life away from the pitch.
In this article, we are going to look at what the FA Four Corner model is, how it works and why we believe it to be the best approach to coaching the game.
What is the FA Four Corner Model?
After many years of analysis, leading coaches at the FA concluded that ‘FA Four Corner model’ make up football – technical, physical, tactical, social. Each corner features a set of skills and attributes which can be worked upon to drive improvement.
The four corners are not separate from each other; rather, they work together in tandem. Each corner impacts on another and improving one area can have a knock-on in all the others, a domino effect of improvements.
Say a player is struggling in the technical corner with their first touch. A means to improve this would be by working on their reaction time, a skill found in the physical corner.
Having such a clear framework laid out through the Four Corner Model concept enables a coach to tailor individual training for every player they work with to address specific weaknesses, creating a pathway to improvement.
This is important as each player a coach works with has different strengths and different weaknesses. There are different ability levels when coaching children, different ages.
Each player has their own needs at certain points in their development. One child might be tactically unaware whilst another needs to work on social skills such as reaction to the failure of communication.
The best coaches provide different, appropriate support to each player. That comes from the FA Four Corner Model, giving every child who attends a We Make Footballers academy the best chance of improvement.
The technical corner
There are 14 different skills in the technical corner, including ball manipulation, dribbling, one-on-one, turning, passing, first touch and finishing. Mastering each is essential to player development with an equal focus on both left and right sides.
If a player can finish for fun with their right foot but struggles with their left, then the technical corner will help a coach identify the shortfall and set out to drive improvement on the weaker side.
The technical corner is the one that relies most heavily on improvements from other corners. For example, almost every technical skill can be boosted by focussing on the physical corner; speed can improve dribbling, coordination can improve turning, balance and power can improve finishing.
The physical corner
12 areas make up the physical corner, including speed, agility, balance, power, endurance, strength and reaction time. We have already seen how it goes hand-in-hand with the technical corner, but it also feeds into the tactical corner.
Once a player takes a tactical decision about what they are going to do, they need to make a certain movement to carry out that decision.
The faster they can react, the better the chances of success. Every action in football comes from a movement, highlighting the importance of focussing on physical skills.
Working on the physical corner benefits children beyond the football pitch. At a time when school budgets are being cut and PE and after school clubs are falling by the wayside, We Make Footballers often provide a huge percentage of a child’s weekly organised physical activity.
The physical corner helps children become fitter and healthier. That serves as a reminder of the service that our franchisees provide to their local community and the health and wellbeing of children around the country.
The tactical corner
In the tactical corner, the focus is on areas such as decision making, off the ball movement, 360-degree awareness, creating space and the rules of the game.
A lot of football coaching academies tend to place most of their focus on the technical side of the football. Football is not just played on grass, but in the mind as well.
The best players though are the ones who are the cleverest; they know the optimum moment to play that through ball. They are aware of exactly how much space and time they have before they are closed down. They can make an off-the-ball run that drags a marker away, making room for a teammate to exploit.
Our We Make Footballers franchisees develop children’s game intelligence, knowing that creating footballing thinkers is every bit as important as having a player who can perform 100 drag backs perfectly.
The social corner
Last but by no means least, we come to the social corner. Social skills are often the most underrated aspect of football and yet perhaps the most important.
Football is a team sport, which means success comes from positive relationships between players and coaches. Children need to develop the social skills necessary to build relationships and a certain level of mental resilience to play the game.
You see the importance of good relationships at the highest level. When relationships break down, pundits talk about managers “losing the dressing room” or players “downing tools.”
Having a team of superstars is all very well and good, but unless you operate as a cohesive unit through positive relationships then you will never achieve what you should be capable of. See Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
We Make Footballers franchisees are not dealing with the sort of egos that exist at the Parc Des Princes. But coaches still need to foster strong relationships with their players and in turn help nurture the social skills needed for children to develop positive relationships and friendships with each other.
There is of course more to the social corner than just relationships. Other skills include teamwork, communication, reaction to failure, concentration, composure and leadership. Not only are these skills important in football, but they are also transferred to everyday life.
This is another area in which We Make Footballers franchisees play a role beyond football. By focussing on the social side, a coach can recognise where children might need a little more support in developing skills that will serve them well at home, at school and in the future.
At a time when school focus is being pushed purely to academic attainment, We Make Footballers coaches fill the void by identifying social areas in which children are lacking and helping them develop.
Central to all of this is establishing a safe environment that allows children to express themselves, have a go and learn with freedom where there is no fear of failure.
The social aspect of football – playing in a team and succeeding collectively – is part of what makes it so much fun. And fun is the overriding aim of We Make Footballers.
We Make Footballers franchisees take all four corners of the FA model and use them to ensure that children enjoy their football, make the most of their abilities and develop as both players and people.