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EPPP: Helping Academy players reach their potential

4 Dec 2022
Man Utd v Man City, Premier League 2

The PL's Elite Player Performance Plan has produced a framework for players to make the journey from Academies to senior football

The Premier League's Elite Player Performance Plan was launched in the 2012/13 campaign and to mark the programme's 10th anniversary, we take a look at its impact on the English game.

Player Pathway

The aim of the player pathway is to provide the right experiences at the right time to develop a player's footballing potential.

The plan is based on The FA's "Four Corner Model", addressing the technical, psychological, physical and social development of Academy players.

Each club will adapt the model to fit their own playing and coaching philosophy.

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Individual development plans

Every Academy player has a development plan tailored to their individual needs. Academic and personal development are included in the plan, which is designed to challenge and encourage each player to maximise their potential.

Academy Performance Plan

Development plans are not only for individual players, but also for Academies as a whole.

Each club has its own version of the Academy Performance Plan, which aims to bring to life the club's ethos and identity.

It highlights the vision, philosophy, strategy and targets for the Academy, as well as highlighting how it will be managed.

Coaching provision

Since the EPPP was introduced, changes to Academy coaching have come under three strands.

Quality: focusing on different aspects of the game as a player develops.
Access: increasing contact hours and quality of coaching to be ahead of other footballing nations.
Development: training and development for coaches enhanced.

As part of this, the Elite Coaching Plan was launched in 2020 with the aim of improving pathways for coaches and to create a world-leading coaching development system in Academies and at first-team level.

Download the EPPP Report (PDF; 4.5MB)

There has also has been a significant increase in the number of Academy performance support staff, who provide expertise of sport science, medical, performance analysis and psychology.

Academies are tailoring individual programmes for their players, depending on age and stage of development.

Games programme

The player pathway is split into three distinct sections, providing players with competitions, festivals and tournaments to enhance their development as they progress through the Academy system.

Foundation Phase (U9-U11): Focuses on mastery of the ball, 1v1 skills and boosting confidence, with the overarching aim of enhancing a love of the game.
Youth Development Phase (U12-16): Allows players to develop their tactical, psychological and social understanding of the game, while continuing to enhance their mastery of the ball through different formats and competition.
Professional Development Phase (U17-U21): Prepares players for the demands of first-team football through varied competitions, enabling them to compete with and against some of the best global talent.

Each journey through the Academy is unique and there are many flexible pathways for players to make that transition to first-team football, as can be seen in the examples below.

Fast tracked: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool

Early breakthrough into the Premier League following an expedited experience in the Professional Development Phase.

17 appearances in U21 competitions
20 PL appearances by age of 19  

Focused development: Harvey Barnes
Harvey Barnes, West Bromwich Albion

Targeted loans to complement experience in
the Professional Development Phase.

3 loan registrations (at MK Dons, Barnsley and WBA)
20 PL appearances by age of 21  

Tiered progression: Ollie Watkins
Ollie Watkins, Brentford

Extensive game time in the EFL plus loan and/or Professional Development
Phase experience before breakthrough.

206 appearances in the EFL
20 PL appearances by age of 25

Also in this series

Part 1: EPPP report highlights decade of progress in youth development
Part 2: Key facts about the impact of the EPPP
Part 3: England World Cup squad built on Academies' work
Part 4: Cooper: We are seeing the fruits of Academy investment
Part 5: Lampard: Academies are producing technically better players
Part 6: Creating access and opportunity for all
Part 8: Taking care of Academy players
Part 9: Creating a world-leading Academy workforce
Part 10: Saunders: We can be proud of youth development progress

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