Hello Coaches,

Over the last three weeks, we have looked at consolidating areas of game play ahead of the business end of the season.  Ahead of U16’s finals this weekend, the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final, 7th May, Prem Play-offs, 13th & 14th May and U14’s finals 28th & 29th May, we are looking at your role and specifically managing your bench effectively on BIG game days.

Throughout this blog post we want you to;

  • Check and challenge current practice in the management of the bench in relation to who you are coaching.
  • Apply your personal philosophy (performance decisions) to bench, match play and post-match situations.
  • Assess and apply the roles and responsibilities of the support team in a match context.

We’re going to ask you lots of questions, some you may have considered, some maybe not, to help you arrive at what is best for your squad on game day…

Google Ad Manager – MPU – In Article

How do you ensure that your team are all pulling in the right direction?

“Success can be traced back to the connections between members of the team and the collective nature” 

Task 1 – Context

  1. Think about your:

a) Coaching context – level, age, and number of players in squad, and what your goals are for the season.

E.g. you might have very different goals for an U14’s participation group (to get everyone court time and enjoy competition), to that of a U16 Performance club team going to finals.

b) Match play contexts – What support is available? It may just be you, you might have parents or players from other squads to support, or you could have an assistant coach, technical coaches, team manager and primary carer. You might have support from teachers…

  • Who might you want with you?
  • How can you work with the support available to you?
  1. Outline the current organisation of your bench
    • Is there one? What is the order?
    • How are interventions organised?
    • During the pre, during and post-match?

E.g. your assistant coach should have clearly outlined roles & responsibilities – what do you want them to do, what is your expectation of them, how will you use them as support?

How might it differ depending on who you coach? …Children, Youth, Performance Development, Adult Participation, Adult Performance, High Performance.

England coach Tracey Neville (centre) gives instructions

Task 2 – Influencing Factors

  • What are the influencing factors that may affect your bench?

 – Logistics

Indoor v outdoor / Court surrounds / Positioning – How do you manage substitutions in these situations? Do you want them to sit in position order, units together, sit down or stand up? You can get players in a circle in position order if no bench.

– Philosophy

Outcome v Process. Make sure that you are clear on goals for the season. Even better if goals were set with players and your decisions are in line with your squad goals.


Task 3 – Managing the Support Team

  • What organisations of team benches have you observed at different levels of play?
  • How does this develop as the support team increases in size?
  • From your experiences/observations, what works well?
  • What are the challenges facing the Head Coach when managing their support team on and off the bench?

Challenges for the coaches?

Carron and Hausenblas (1998)

support team challenges

You might have someone volunteer but do you spend time with them to make sure they know how to do the role? Spend the time otherwise problems may arise. E.g. If your team manager is a parent of a child in the squad you need to make sure that the roles & responsibilities are clear.

Effective Management of Support Staff – Things to consider…

  • Role expectations at interventions.
  • Whom communicates and when.
  • When to speak with assistant coaches.
  • Coach use of verbal and non-verbal communication skills/body language.
  • Use of substitutions.

Task 4 – Making Substitutions

  • What is most challenging to you, as coach, when making substitutions? When do you need to start thinking about this?
  • Who do you involve before making your decision?

Making Substitutions – Coach Challenges

  • Playing time for all.
  • Starting 7 – agreement within support team.
  • When to announce starting 7 – what impact might the timing of announcing have?
  • Confidence to make substitutions – When? Whom?
  • The disappointed players, parents/spectators.
  • Short term gains v longer term development.

Coach Behaviours to help

  • Open communication channels – coach-coach; coach – support staff ; coach-athlete
  • Clarity and Consistency of messages
  • Awareness of communication skills – verbal and non-verbal
  • Shared goal setting
  • Individual and support team
  • Time with subs – letting those about to go on know what you want them to do.

You should always speak to those that did not get on, be honest and give reasons…either after the match or at training. Let them know what your rationale was.

What is the routine for bench players and support staff? Be clear on your expectations. E.g. Bench players might be responsible for getting drinks together, towels ready, and looking at their position’s opposition. You may also want to set a bench etiquette E.g. Not shouting, only positive comments.

When you have worked through this with your own considerations, why not give a fellow coach a call, it could be your assistant coach (if you’re lucky to have one), get other coaches at your club together and bounce ideas off one another. Do you have a shared club philosophy? If you have juniors, or performance squads, how might you manage the bench differently to adult participation in local and county leagues?

If you don’t have any support start thinking about next season. Who can you ask to support?

If you have Sky or are a member of England Netball why not live stream the matches this weekend and observe the benches there with reference to the above questions.


If you don’t have Sky Sports, just Click HereYou will need your affiliation number (which you will have received on your membership card in April’s magazine).

Something a little different this week.  We hope that you enjoyed this post, it has certainly got us scratching our heads.  What do you do that works?  We’d love to hear from you and if you want more on this type of thing, as ever let us know @ENCoaching_

Good luck to all coaches taking their squads to BIG games in the next few weeks.

Team Coaching


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