Hertha academy product Jessic Ngankam celebrating.

Philosophy and strategy

The Hertha BSC Football Academy has been successfully training the next generation of footballers for many years, a fact that the club is really proud of. Since 2000, a total of 75 players have graduated from the Academy to play professionally in the Bundesliga and the Bundesliga 2 as well as in professional leagues in a number of other countries. As befitting the slogan “aus Berlin für Berlin” - from Berlin, for Berlin - the majority of players at the Hertha Football Academy hail from Berlin or Brandenburg and have taken the first steps in their careers in the area or even directly through the club itself. Reflecting the multicultural nature of the capital city, it is hardly surprising that Hertha’s youngsters can trace family origins to over 30 nations. The goal is and remains to make it possible for more and more young players to make the leap into the professional squad at the club. Promoting youth is one of the essential foundations upon which the BSC future of Hertha BSC will be built! 

Through high quality training in a competitive environment, we aim to inspire the next generation of talent at Hertha BSC. Alongside the conceptual work of our coaches, building strong training squads is an important factor in the training philosophy. In addition to this, the Academy competes in high-level leagues from the age group U9s to U14s in Berlin in order to train, develop and promote player’s progression in tougher conditions. The aim is to develop both their skill on the ball and their willingness to assert themselves in matches. Playing football at a high technical level over longer periods of time and with more pressure from opponents is a core credo of the training.

Jessic Ngankam (l) and Jordan Torunarigha are both in Hertha's first team.

Dual training - a symbiosis of education and football 

The symbiosis of education and football is a core aspect of the Academy’s philosophy. The aim is for every player enrolled at the Hertha BSC Football Academy to be able to complete their studies to the best of their ability while simultaneously paving the way for a successful sporting career at the club. To this end, Hertha BSC is working in cooperation with two elite schools for sport and for football. These are the 'Sportschule im Olympiapark - Poelchau-Oberschule' (‘Elite school of sport and football’) which is located on the club’s training grounds, and the 'Schul- und Leistungssportzentrum Berlin' (‘Berlin school and competitive sports centre’). Sports students are able to complete three additional training sessions in the morning as part of their school lessons and thus are able to train to a high standard without having to cut back on time in school. In addition to this, the system offers various development and support measures for certain players, youth international players, and up-and-coming talents who are already training with the first team. Alongside this, several team workshops and international exchanges take place to promote personality development. 

Our football training work is based on the four most important phases of play in the modern game: 

  • Play when in possession of the ball 
  • Play directly after losing the ball  
  • Play out of possession 
  • Play after winning back the ball 

These four phases are underpinned by the corresponding solution and playing principles for individual behaviour, as well as for group and team behaviour. On this basis, our coaches seek to develop the dominant, technical and courageous Hertha style of play within the respective age groups. Developing commitment and intensity is also a key part of this. 

Maximilian Mittelstädt is yet another player to make it to the first team from the academy.

Training control and positional flexibility 

The goal for each individual is to develop players who are well-drilled in a technical sense so that they are able to make the right decisions when under pressure in terms of space, time, or opponents’ presence. The demands of today’s game also create the need for a very high degree of athletic proficiency and fitness, which is shaped by sports scientists and fitness trainers. Though training requires a high level of physical strain and dynamism, there should be no injuries despite this intensity. To make sure of this, Hertha BSC works with modern performance diagnostics, controls workloads in training and conducts regular coordination and performance tests. 

On the path to developing a player towards their optimal playing position, positional flexibility is a key focus for two principal reasons: 

  • To gain experience in different positions without narrowing it down too early (for example making sure that players don’t just play up front and never further down the pitch), and to make sure that the most important skills in the game are recognised and promoted. 
  • Gaining a place in the first-team squad at the end of the Academy training remains a priority and picking up skills in more than one position can help players reach that goal. A good example of this is Maximilian Mittelstädt, who has been used in four different positions in the Bundesliga so far as a result of his versatility. 

For the best possible organisation of the path that young players take towards the professional level, communication with those leading the club is key. Regular contact with the sporting director, first-team coaches, careers coach, youth coaches and academy directors is fundamental to our care for the youngsters in the U17, U19 and U23 teams. Our careers coach is involved with a whole range of things, including training, internal performance reviews (U19, U23, first team) and domestic and international fixtures, all with the aim of helping our players to be ready for senior professional football as quickly as possible. That is why Hertha BSC has such a good track record of promoting the top talent from the academy to the senior squad! 

Together we are strong! 

Hertha BSC places an emphasis on developing as a team to help with individual progression. Youngsters enjoy the most exciting moments of their time in the academy together with the whole team. 

On top of that, we also help players’ mental development in order to set them up for success later on. We foster the role of leadership within the side, for example, and the impact of that can be seen in how Hertha BSC youngsters have played central and sometimes crucial roles in big matches such as league deciders, cup finals or international fixtures. The young players who are able to perform at the top of their game in the most challenging battles are the ones who develop the mental strength that is so important for a professional career. 

Hertha's U19s won the German title in 2018.

These methods helped us to win the U19 German championship in 2018 and the U19 DFB-Pokal in 2015, a competition in which we were also runners-up the following year. The U17s have also won national titles in 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2012, as well as finishing second in 2013, achievements which were vital for the blue and white youngsters on their way towards playing professional football. Past and present show that Hertha’s way is the right way, which plenty of academy products performing at the top level: the Boateng brothers, John Anthony Brooks, Maxi Mittelstädt, Jordan Torunarigha, Arne Maier and Jessic Ngankam, to name just a few. The conveyor belt keeps rolling and more are sure to follow.  On average, you can usually find around 25 players in the Hertha BSC Football Academy who have international caps at youth level. 

"Your talent brings you this far, your character decides your future" 

Most important of all for a good footballing education is to have well-educated coaches who are team-oriented and hard-working. They also need to have the heart and the passion to take on the responsibility that comes with the role of youth coach. There are plenty of former professionals, sports scientists and teachers in place at Hertha to ensure a successful mix of skills for football and for life for all age groups in our academy. The requirements to play at Bundesliga level are increasing all the time and so we are constantly working to improve the work we do at all levels of the academy, in terms of sport, personnel and infrastructure. 

The future is ever-changing, especially in a big city like Berlin, yet we remain committed to an all-encompassing education of sport, school and personal development. The further development of each individual’s personality therefore plays a key supporting role in the nurturing of young talents at Hertha BSC. This involves the teaching of values such as mutual respect, tolerance, fair play, discipline, order, team spirit, and passion, which are all key aspects of the identity of the club. The motto is “Your talent brings you this far, but your character decides your future.” This forms the basis of the journey that youngsters take through the Hertha BSC Football Academy and their development both as athletes and as human beings.