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Integrated Methodological Approach

The goal of the Youth Academy is to train the players for the First Team or, more generally, to mould an advanced player who knows how to adapt himself to the various requests he will find in professional football.

In any case, it is our professional duty to create the conditions so that every talent can fully fulfil his potential. It should be emphasized that the methodological approach does not create talent but accompanies it. It is the very method, being it a flexible instrument, that has to fit the uniqueness of any single talent (player).

The thinking behind our methodological approach starts from the assumption that everything that happens to the player during the performance, then in the game, produces a technical result, which we call 'technical effectiveness'.

This effectiveness is determined by a combination of tactical, physical-athletic, emotional, mental and relational aspects that, by interacting with each other, allow us to rate the player’s performance in the game, according to our performance model which, as mentioned above, has a mainly instructive purpose.

Having said that, it is clear that all the aspects must be taken into account while planning, implementing and subsequently readjusting the training plan.

This constant planning must take into account what we observe in the player, in the game and therefore in the context in which he acts.

To that end, we have set up a Coordination Department led by Edgardo Zanoli which aims to make all the Youth Academy staff and different areas communicate with each other in a participatory and proactive way, with a view to sharing the general intervention strategies but also their opinions and making their contribution to the development of the methodological approach.
The topics discussed can be proposed by the Coordination Department itself, by the staff or by a single member of it.

The term Coordination identifies, both the training approach and the people composing it, namely the Technical Coordinator, the Head of the Athletic Area and the Head of the Youth Academy.

Working plan in a typical week related to Competitive Teams (from U19 to U15)

  • MONDAY: the Video Area1 analyzes the games recorded in the weekend and prepares the clips on which the coaches and the Coordination Department will work with the teams and the players.
    • Morning: viewing and analyzing the videoclips of matches with the teams’ staff. The clips can be proposed by the Coordination Department, by individual areas or by coaches.
    • Afternoon: training.
    • Morning: various topics are discussed, technical, tactical, athletic, mental, regarding our teams and our players. The topics can be suggested by the Coordination Department or by the individual areas.
    • Afternoon: training.
    • Morning, about once or twice a month: New training drills are presented in the classroom and then tested on the pitch.
    • Afternoon: training.
    • Early afternoon: the Coordination Department and the staff meet to discuss and take stock of the current week, in the presence of the Pitch and Residence Psycho-pedagogical Team. In this meeting we discuss the players’ issues that affect performance on the pitch.
    • Afternoon: training.

1 During the week, the Video Area films the training sessions and prepares the videoclips for the coach and the Coordination Department, performs research studies and analyses on our teams and European clubs or national teams regarding technical and tactical aspects. 

In addition to training sessions on the pitch, the staff members also propose video-analysis sessions with their team, either adressing a group of players with a specific position on the field of play or individual players, for educational purposes, once or twice a the week.

All the morning training sessions are also open to the other professional figures involved in the players’ development.

Discussion and debate is therefore a building block of the training process and develops according to horizontal dynamics, and not in the classic top-down logic, thus favoring a proactive work approach.

We believe that in order to create a path able to guarantee talent growth (Human Capital) it is necessary to increase the level of competence of adults (Human Capital) that contribute to the player’s very training and development.
Again from a training perspective, we ask our teams to play a game based on ball possession as we believe that this mode takes into account the fact that learning takes place through the repetition of gestures (quantitative aspect) but that such learning can only happen through experience in specific situations (situated learning), i.e. engaging the player from the cognitive point of view through, for example, continuous requests that call into question the ability and response rate and that take into account the many stimuli to which players must respond during the game (qualitative aspect).

To that end, the Athletic Area led by Prof. Domenico Gualtieri, thanks to the use of GPS technology, has defined the performance model of our teams (from the U19 to the U15), making the data available to the other areas so that they could take them into account in planning the training activity.

Let's train as if we were playing and play the way we train!

In fact, depending on the age groups, the workouts envisage an 80% use of the ball in the training session.

Training takes into account some key elements that help learning:


To be motivated, the young player must continuously receive new stimuli and therefore the exercises must change with a certain frequency;


The player needs to understand why he is asked to perform a certain exercise and what are the objectives of the very exercise.


Checking on individual and collective progress allows the young players to keep motivation high in performing training plans, thus generating a virtuous circle that helps learning.

The macro-principles that constitute the backbone of our teaching method are:

  • the occupation of spaces
  • play times
  • the numerical condition

These principles are determined by the following variables:

  • ball
  • opponents
  • teammates

Again for educational reasons we have split the game into 5 playing phases:

  • 3 ball possession phases:
    • Construction
    • Management
    • Shooting
  • 2 non-possession phases:
    • Reaction to the lost ball
    • Organized defensive phase

It is clear that, as part of our methodological approach, these phases cannot be considered separately.

Keeping complexity together is a goal that must be sought in every training session. In other words we start from the game and its complexity and then eventually break it down and simplify things (but not too much) to encourage learning by young players.

In fact, there can be no real learning if not experienced in a real situation.