Development Programme


Developmental Stage Falcon's Programme Foundation Programme Youth Programme Adult Programme
Age Groups U3-U6 U7-U10 U11-U15 U16-U19
Coaching time per year 40-90 hours 100-120 hours 150-320 hours 150-540 hours
Development Focus Social
Training focus Attack & Defend Understanding Positions Groups and Units Whole Team
Players per session 12 12 to 15 12 to 18 18 to 22
Length of session 45 mins to 1 hour 1 hour 60 to 75 mins 75 to 90 mins
Training to game ratio Training only 4:1 3:1 2:1
Training Format 1v1 to 3v3 1v1 to 5v5 1v1 to 9v9 1v1 to 11v11
Training Structure Warm up, technical & game Warm up, technical & game Warm up, tech/tact & game Warm up, tech/tact & game
Game Format Training only (Plus festivals) 3v3 to 5v5 7v7 9v9 11v11 11v11
Player Assessment Frequency Once per season Twice per year 3 times per year 3 times per year


Principles of Play 

Principles of play are the underpinning concepts of the game and can be coached from the very first stage of development onwards. The principles relate to attacking and defending and should not be confused with the system of play. The principles of play are the same in any system of play. It is important for the coach to know and understand the principles before helping the players to understand. With a good appreciation and excellent technique a team will be able to play any system and style. 

Attacking Principles

There are 5 principles of attack

1. Penetration

Is the act of breaking through the defense by dribbling, shooting, running or passing. We can start coach penetration in the Falcons development programme.

2. Depth and Support

A player in possession of the ball receives help to maintain possession. Support attackers provide forward, backward and sideways options to the attacker.

3. Width

The attacking team attempts to stretch the opponent’s defensive shape. The attacking players use the width of the field to tempt the defenders from a compact shape covering the dangerous areas in front of goal and in doing so create space. The attackers move the ball to change the point of attack in an effort to find a seam or space between or behind the defence. We can start coaching width in late stage of the Foundation Programme..

4. Mobility

Attackers make runs into different areas of the field in order to draw defenders out of position. This principle can start to be taught during the stage of the Youth Development Programme..

5. Improvisation, Creativity and Surprise

Attackers will try to break down defences by employing an element of surprise. Creative play is vital here. Comfort on the ball is critical and this training starts in Falcon’s Development Programme.

Defending Principles

There are 5 principles of defending designed to counteract the effects of the attacking principles;

1. Pressure

Early in the development process we should work on individual defending technique. 1v1 activities are great at teaching young players how to ‘pressure’. The objective is for the defender is to make the attacker make a mistake, without over committing, so that he she can win the ball. The defender must apply pressure to the attacker to either win the ball back, or delay the attack by preventing the shot, pass or dribble. 1v1 scenarios can be introduced in the Falcon’s Programme, but more formal coaching of pressure should be done in the Foundation Development Programme..

2. Cover/Support

Following our work on ‘pressure’ we progress to work with support defenders off of the ball. When defending in pairs the second player cuts of passing lanes and is ready to convert to the role of the pressure player if the attacker beats the first defender. This principle is ideal to introduce in Foundation Development Programme..

3. Balance

There are a variety of defensive shapes used to counteract an attack. For example, when the ball is central in the midfield area, the defensive shape is more dish shaped with the defender nearest the ball applying pressure and the other defenders retaining defensive balance. A third player will drop off the ball and get into a position where they can mark a player, follow a penetrating run or step forward to pressure the ball. Balance should be introduced at Youth Development Stage (after pressure and cover).

4. Delay/Patience/Discipline

Here players should be taught when to apply enough pressure on the attacker in order to force them to make a mistake to win the ball and when to force the attacker in a direction most beneficial to the team. Over eagerness may be costly to the team. Delay tactics may also be practiced so that our team can play counter attacking football, which is very prominent in today's game. We can start to work on these principles (in their basic form) in Foundation Development Programme.

5. Compactness

Defensive compactness is the polar opposite to Attacking width. The aim is to condense the middle of the field and limit the space in order to penetration. We can start to employ this principle in small sided games at stage Foundation/Youth Development Programme.


The number one priority for any football programme should be to introduce children to the beautiful game in a fun and enjoyable way so that children get ‘hooked’ and can’t wait to return for their next session. We get this! 

However, we believe that through having a structured and organised curriculum such as our Doha Pearl Academy Player Development Plan, our players can achieve a much wider range of results and benefits.

As a result of this Player Development Plan, the coaches are able to focus on nurturing players to achieve the end of stage goals and attainment targets and is able to assess players more accurately by having clearly defined outcomes at each stage and also a clear pathway for progression.

Having this curriculum and regular feedback (player reports) also allows parents and children to be more involved in their own learning and ensures that the player is actively involved in their footballing education.

However, keep in mind that successful football at all levels is determined by one thing, TECHNIQUE. Therefore our coaching programmes must start with a strong technical focus to acquire the fundamental building blocks that are critical to the development of a player. Oh… and don’t forget we make the sessions fun and enjoyable so that players develop their love for the game and cannot wait to come to their next Doha Pearl Academy session!