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Providing a launchpad for academy talent to flourish

Academy Head of Coaching Michael Hamilton on picking up tips at home and abroad

6 June 2018

Academy Head of Coaching Michael Hamilton recently attended a course attended by some of the brightest young coaches in the game.

Michael was joined by our Senior Professional Development Coach Alan Reeves at the conference, which was attended by Burnley manager Sean Dyche, and both of our coaches came away from it having picked up useful tips for bringing through Wimbledon's youngsters.

Our academy coaching team have been striving to enhance their skills with the help of elite sports coaches and Michael provides a summary below of what's been going on during the past 12 months.

It's important to remember Anthony Hartigan's LFE League One Apprentice of the Year award isn't solely based on footballing achievements, but also education. We ask boys to push their development and to educate themselves as much as possible. Therefore, it's so important that we, as coaches, lead by example.

We believe we have a very effective player development programme, but the coach development programme is relatively new so it has been, and still is, catching up and that's been my focus over the past 12 months. Sometimes the answer lies beyond the formal coaching courses and as much as you learn on the job, it's powerful to step outside of the day to day bubble and look at different environments.

Last month, I attended a two-day Premier League Conference hosted by Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion. We were sounded by some of the best youth coaches in the country and hosted by the likes of Dan Ashworth (The FA Technical Director), Sean Dyche (Burnley FC) and Kieran McKenna (recently promoted to Man United first team coaching staff), so it provided valuable coaching tips. I was joined at the conference by Alan Reeves and on the way back we were already talking about one or two things that we could bring to the table here.

In February, I was very fortunate to spend a week at FC Barcelona and members of the academy management have visited different set ups with the purpose of gaining knowledge and viewing things from a different perspective. The picture above shows Michael (far right) at the Catalonia Football Association with Jordan McCann (Luton Town Head of Coaching) Nick Chadwick (Wigan U18 coach) and Steve Guinan (PFA educator).

We have been very aggressive with providing ourselves and our hardworking part-time staff with learning opportunities. These have included the following:

England Rugby

Off the back of England Rugby Head Coach Eddie Jones visiting the academy at the end of last year, I joined Mark Robinson at Pennyhill Park to observe the England National side train. It gave us a great insight into the methods and practices delivered by a world class sports coach.

First-team preparations for taking on Spurs

In January, the manager Neal Ardley gave the academy coaching team access to the first team's preparations for the FA Cup tie versus Tottenham. We sat in on the squad's video analysis session, heard a presentation and Q & A based on the game plan, and then observed a training session. Before such a pressurised match, the gaffer had no need to open the doors, but he gave us all the time we needed, which I can guarantee doesn't happen at many other clubs.

Visiting Chelsea FC and other clubs

We were able to provide all of our coaches who work with the U9-U12s (Foundation Phase) and those that have been here for a certain period of time with an opportunity to visit the academy of Chelsea FC. Other clubs we've visited over the past 12 months include: West Ham United, Stoke City FC, Swansea City, Brentford FC and Charlton Athletic. The better we are as coaches, the better players we can develop. It's as simple as that. The moment we stand still thinking we've cracked it is the moment we get left behind and that goes against everything the club stands for.

Thanks to all of our 2017/18 academy coaching team: Guy Paul, Jordan Knight, Seb Brown, Jack Wingate, David Cole, Finn Bond Roberts, James Landridge, Nick Wright, Hasib Saeed, Jack Matthews, Chayenne Kamaran, Paul Wycherley, Craig Davies, Tom Rowbotham, Glen Nichols and Jazz Chalal.

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