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The 10,000 hours of training for our young players, with detail inc;


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10,000 hours of training might seem like a lot for any teenager wanting to embark on their chosen career.

But research has shown that this is the exact amount of practise it takes over a ten year period to excel in any sport, including football.

Almost four years ago Rangers became the first club in Scotland to introduce a programme which takes a step in this direction, with the most talented footballers between the ages of 14 to 16 increasing their training time to up to 18 hours per week.

In the past reaching this target would be impossible with the majority of kids only able to attend training at night.

But working with schools up and down the country Rangers developed a day release programme which lets elite youngsters leave their classes for one day per week and come in to Murray Park to hone their skills.

Add to that three evening training sessions per week and a game every Sunday and you are starting to see the level of dedication required to make it as a top footballer in the modern game.

But what is surprising about the programme is that despite missing a day at school teachers have found that players selected work harder at their academic studies and their grades improve as a result.

The Rangers youth department is also starting to reap the benefits and after only four years 24 youngsters are now on professional contracts, either at Rangers or elsewhere, playing at under-17, under-19 or first-team level - including John Fleck, Danny Wilson and Jamie Ness - and 18 have been picked for Scotland.

The 10,000 hour rule, devised by world renowned Sport Scientist Istvan Balyi, is a model now considered in many European countries including Holland, Spain, Germany and France and youth coach and Academy Operations Manager Craig Mulholland believes it is important that Rangers strive to meet this criteria.

He said: "Research has shown that to reach the highest level in any sport you have to do 10,000 hours of practise over a ten year period.

"For our young players this would mean that from the age of ten to when they reach the first-team they would have to practise for three hours every day or roughly 21 hours a week.

"We think we are doing very well right now for our school kids in this regard.

"For example our under-15s come to Murray Park for two hours on a Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night and Friday night and their game on a Sunday takes them up to roughly eleven hours.

"Now that may seem like a lot but research suggests that to become a top player you need more than that.

"If you look at all the big football nations that have good reputations for their youth development they all have a model where a kid's education is combined with their football coaching.

"In Scotland I think we have been slow to pick up on this, not just in football but in every sport.

"What you might find is that a youngster might not be academically elite but they might be elite at a sport.

"So as a nation we should be pushing these kids to develop the talents they naturally have and give them the facilities and coaching to do that.

"There is loads of research out there which suggests that this 10,000 hour rule is the required level of practice to become a top performer in any sport.

"We started our day release programme four years ago and we were the first in the country to do it. In fact, John Fleck was the first person to be involved; he was 14 at that time and in his third year at school.

"So he came to Murray Park for a day every week and in terms of increasing our contact time with him this was so important. We have, of course, developed the content over this time and moved on considerably from this initial model.

"Up to that point John had eleven hours of practise if you include his sessions at night and a game at the weekend but we could then add another eight to that when we took him out of school. This equates to roughly 120 hours more a year.

"So it is a very successful model but we have had to build really close relationships with the schools that the boys attend because effectively a fifth of their education becomes football."

Only last week a group of under-15 and16 players completed their latest block of the day release programme at Murray Park and club photographer Aileen Wilson was there to take exclusive pics as the boys went through their weekly routine.

From 9.30-10-30am coaches and staff discuss key topics with the youngsters such as diet and nutrition, psychology and Sandy Jardine delivers an input on what it takes to be a Rangers player.

Using the cameras which record training and matches on all of the Murray Park youth pitches, this slot is also used to deliver group and individual video analysis work on technical and tactical aspects in addition to running style analysis.

From 10.30-11.30am preparations for training begins with sports scientist Jamie Ramsden who delivers injury prevention activation activites and progresses to Olympic lifting which helps develop speed and power.

From 11-12.15am the first of two training takes place with the focus solely on creative ball work and technique development.

This content is key as it focuses solely on creative technical development designed to develop the kind of exciting technique which Scottish players are not famous for.

Last week boys in attendance got the chance to train with first-team star Kirk Broadfoot which is a benefit of the day release programme which undoubtedly is a massive advantage to the education of these 14 and 15 year olds.

A quick lunch in the canteen is then followed by 50 minutes of school work with a designated tutor.

From 2-3pm it is back on to the pitches for individual technical programmes and flexibility development and the day is completed with recovery activities from 3.15-4.15pm. This includes swimming, soccer aerobics, yoga and boxing.

It's a busy day for the rising stars but it gives them an exciting insight in to life as a professional footballer at Rangers and what they can expect if they can make the grade.

Craig said: "When they come in for a day it gives us time to work one-on-one with our players on their technique, sports science and video analysis.

"It's also an introduction to a full time working environment at a football club.

"We know that there are other models out there such as ones used by Aberdeen, Celtic and the SFA.

"Many of the models we have witnessed at European clubs involve the young players moving away from home and attending a different school to gain the extra 8-10 hours contact per week.

"We've decided not to do that at the moment because, although we bring them to Murray Park from school for a day, we believe it's important that they can still go back to their usual environment for the rest of the week.

"That takes a lot of pressure off them, allowing them a normal life outside football, which can only be a good thing.

"We were the first in the country to try and combine education and football and it's very positive, for the game in this country, that other clubs and the governing body are now trying to do the same, even if programmes differ from club to club.

"From our perspective we want our day release programme to get bigger and better every year and after Christmas we are hoping to start another day, possibly a Tuesday, for another age group.

"In an ideal world you would have a situation where an elite player's education and football is combined throughout their entire school years.

"The only problem with that is that you do not want a player to be called 'elite' when they are too young because we know that things can change and their education may suffer as well.

"But the great thing we have found with our programme is that each kid's education improves because they are so desperate to work hard and make sure they keep their day at Murray Park.

"Whether someone is good at football, badmington, gymastics or any sport we, as a country, should be trying to adopt the 10,000 hour rule from an early age and I am sure we will start to see a lot more talented sportmen and women being produced in Scotland."


Fantastic detail there from our official site! Well done Rangers!

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Well Mr Mullholland,do you only take the kid out of school for 15 week's out of the whole school term ,for these extra 120 hours ?(8hours multiplied by 15week's =120hours),is this all the education board allow?cause im thinking there's more hour's to be had ,that you and THE RANGERS are missing out on


Also the breezeblock boys are doing this on a daily basis wi their u15s ,train at lennoxtown and schooling at s@!/t ninnian,in kirkintilloch,every day ,finish 8.30-9pm,



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i quit after 9999 hrs - bastard!

if only i had known.

This theory is spot on. The amount of football being played on grass parks etc in towns and villages over the last 15-20 years has dropped dramatically. Video games, safety etc have all contributed to that. The other major initiative being spouted at the moment is practising with a smaller ball, goals etc. I think it has been termed as "resistance training". The idea is that playing with a smaller ball and trying to score in much smaller goals will make doing the real thing (bigger ball, goals etc easier to achieve. And they even use weights tied round your ankles to slow you down but build the exact leg muscles.This has been used widely (mostly in Germany) as a method of improvement.

I think it's great that Rangers are trying radical ideas because it's only innovative methods and techniques that is going to improve the talent in Scotland to the levels required.

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Samller balls into smaller goals defintely works. My mate's Dad coaches an U21 team and uses this method with his players. The difference in their finishing ability after just a couple of months is staggering. It is a very successful training method on the Continent and in South America, where youngsters actually play with a smaller ball and goals until they are teenagers.

It is nice to see that Rangers are putting a much needed emphasis on youth development though, as it is the only way forward for our club. The problem will be getting dedicated youngsters in this country who also have good natural ability. Too many of them are willing to throw it away.

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My daughter does Judo at a high level (she is 16) - this is what she has been working to for 3 years now and has a way to go - and has to do School every day - its tough but that seems to be what kids are expected to do now to get ahead!

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The problem will be getting dedicated youngsters in this country who also have good natural ability. Too many of them are willing to throw it away.

There lies the problem. I can count five or six players who were good enough when they were 12 or 13 and then discovered the bevvy and burds

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I have been saying this should be done for years! Great post. Also , the cut off date for young players in football is january. so what about the wee guys who are born in decmber? they have had a nearly a full year less to grow and develop than the players born in january. Its a self full filling prophecy!

It all comes from this book


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