Working With Age Groups

Working with age group categories is a very important responsible activity. I am a fan of the theory that younger generations should work with the best coaches. Those coaches should be trained and creative, eager to prove themselves, but also be aware that what can be ruined early hardly can be corrected later. There lies their greatest responsibility.

In order to minimize such errors, it is necessary to plan and try to systematically organize the operation of youth water polo school. Therefore, the work program is developed for reaching a certain goal, both on the practical and on the theoretical field. This is a good basis for quantitative and qualitative training of young water polo players.

Technology of work with different age groups is carried out in a long-term training process, which is required to be based on the agreed goals. These goals are usually also the policy of the club. By creating a program with the basic tasks and goals, as well as certain actions that are systematically implemented, will allow the program to eventually become real.

In the context of long-term training process, we must bear in mind that all stages are very important and we have to devote considerable attention to them. The transition phase from the basic training process to the competitive training process is certainly one of the most sensitive. In this training period there is a significant increase in the training requirement that may be stressful for children of younger ages. Stress can lead to interruption of this training process, which is not desirable considering the number and talent of children who are opting to play water polo.

The youngest training age group, which is called precompetitive, represents the beginning of a serious and prolonged labor, which gradually prepares young players for the later and more demanding workouts.

If we look globally, precompetitive group, development group and cadets last from ages seven to fourteen years. During the period of seven years it is necessary to learn all of the fundamental techniques within individual tactics. At the age groups of younger juniors and youth all the elements of individual skill are necessary to show in the collective tactics.

In addition to the structure of the training and the training load the program includes technical and tactical training and training on land. One of the most important tasks is to teach children to actively participate in the training, not only to carry out the instructions of coaches. This is a significant moment in the development which can indicate whether someone can be a good player or not.

It is the coach’s ability and sense to recognize such talent. The metrics and the data obtained in the controlled environment can help in that process. The controlled training process includes monitoring kinetic results in the water and on dryland, and an assessment of technical and tactical abilities. In this way, by measuring anthropometric characteristics and functional abilities we can follow the development of individuals and teams.

Thus, the operation in the development of young water polo players must be planned, designed and controlled. As such, it will give the desired results. The first real result will be seen to their entry into the senior team. Current and rapid progress is no indicator, since it is usually a result of an early  specialization. Later, very often leads to stagnation and decline in the quality, and the other who had a constant and slower development, catch up and surpass and play much longer.