Happy Tuesday Coaches!  We hope that those of you who attended the VNSL this weekend had a fab time and hopefully you all got to enjoy some sunshine. This is our last Top 10 for the season (sob) as we are heading off during June and July to get everything ready for next year.  But never fear, before the Coaching blog goes on its summer holiday, we bring you May’s Top 10 on a very important topic we didn’t want to miss.

This month we spoke to some of the National Academy Pathway Selectors, along with a range of  coaches to find out what their advice is when it comes to trials. We know many of you have already got underway with organising trials for the 16/17 season and we hope these tips will help you make them the best ever!


  1. Debbie Skene – Youth Coach, Performance Development Coach

I’m a bit of a computer geek and I love spreadsheets which allow me to plan matches and ensure that every player plays in all 3 chosen positions. I can then track which round they are playing in and which chosen position they are in. This makes it fair for all. It also means if a player is missing, I can quickly replace them each match with another player.

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Spend some time on excel or ask around fellow coaches that might have a mega spreadsheet already organised.

I always plan for something to go wrong but I have back up bibs, umpires, selectors, balls, paperwork etc all at the ready. My last tip is to get older players to help you. This weekend I used the U16 girls to help register players on arrival, organise bibs and balls on each court and help support the athletes. I asked them to wear their county kit so they were a role model and something the U14’s would aspire too.

  1. Hayley Mackellar

Be prepared, all you need is your coaching team, selectors and umpires. When the players arrive be clear about the format of the trials, have your order of play ready and make timings clear to players. Hand over the responsibility to the players…letting your players warm up together and lead themselves allows them to feel more comfortable about the trials and to get involved with others. When players use their voice, they lose their nerves.

Create a relaxed environment by keeping it simple, smile and enjoy. Be organised from the start. Have selectors confirmed with all the information they need. Organise Umpires with the local league and ask mentors to maybe get umpires wishing to be assessed or mentored to come and umpire games. Have your order of play completed and clear to all. Any change needed to be made will be small and adjustable on the day. Allow the players to take lead.

Paperwork involved doesn’t have to be complex…keep it simple, clear and allow for extra. Give your umpires and selectors clear instructions and the necessary paper work and it will run like a dream.

  1. Philippa Hicks – Children’s Coach / Performance Development Coach

I believe there is a lot of value involved in bringing in independent selectors. For you as a coach to have a second opinion, someone who does not have any preconceived bias can help you to see players from a different perspective.

For players it is also good to bring in external selectors, players may feel that the selection is fair. Having a balance of both those that have seen them play throughout the season in case they don’t perform their best during trails, and an independent selector that it fixed on where players have played previously.

  1. Jane Lomax – Performance Development Coach

If there is a player you do not see much of in a trial game, before writing them off take another look: they may be marking their player so well they never get the ball. It is not always the ‘flashy’ players who naturally draw your attention that will necessarily make the best team players. ‘Grafters’ can often be better long term prospects as they quietly impact on the game and set up those intercepts and turnover opportunities for others who then get noticed. So take a look for who created those opportunities!

  1. Amanda Newton – England Netball National Academy Pathway Selector

Make sure you look at their basic abilities – can they land &turn with the ball?

Be open as the person might not have the trained skills as a netballer but still be talented.

And look out for players that are versatile – can play various positions. Not necessarily all over the court but versatile within their unit / position. For example a Centre that plays very defensively, but is also an effective attacker.

  1. Anna Carter – England Netball National Academy Pathway Selector

My top tip is to challenge current thinking of what players are doing now and look for players that are non-conventional who can shape the future of the game. Sounds difficult and it is, these players come along rarely but when they do they change peoples perceptions of what a current player is capable of and pushes the boundaries of the game.

  1. Sam Bird – England Netball National Academy Pathway Selector

A top tip from me would be to create an environment and encourage players to express themselves as much as possible. It would be good for you as coach to give players a steer, get them to set themselves a target for the game and try to achieve it – eg a WA to try to be free on first phase for Centre pass ; or a defender to try and intercept/ tip the ball 3 times in the game. Trials are hard because they will be playing with players they are not familiar with, so more individual focus whilst trying to get the team you are on to perform well.  Most of all enjoy the experience and learn from it!

  1. Dannii Titmuss – England Netball National Academy Pathway Selector & Performance Development Coach

My top tip would be to encourage the players to be FEARLESS!

No matter what position, are they the athlete who’s able to take the risk and go for the interception, have the confidence to take the shot, be able to take on defence to get free? Fearlessness could also be being brave to communicate with your unit (players you might not know) to implement team tactics. Encourage players to take the opportunity whilst on court, give it everything they have – don’t hold back!

  1. Fran Connolly – Adult Participation / Performance Development Coach

Try something new! Take your players out of their comfort zone. If you do the same warm ups, games and match play that you usually do, you will see what you already know about your players. Include decision making practices and create a bit of chaos so see who the games players are.

Before going into trials you also need to know what your expectations are, do you want the best players right here right now, or future champions that you can invest some time in to develop. Have a coach meeting and ensure you are on the same page about what you are looking for.

  1. Katy Ritchie – Youth Coach

Trials are an opportunity for you to sell your club to new members.  As the coach, you won’t be able to do everything on the day so delegate where possible.  When we reviewed trials a few years ago, we discussed how intimidating it can me for new players and wanted to do something about that.  We asked our friendliest, most bubbly club member to be the official point of welcome on trials days.  She is tasked with seeking out newbies, saying hi, telling them about the club, our ethos and introducing them to other newbies and friendlier club members.  It is definitely a more positive experience now and we have a high retention rate of talented new players to the club.

For some further support with decision based games have a look at the England Netball Scouting Resource.

Trained Identifiers: Identifying players using a game-centred approach. A free online video resource to help club coaches and teachers identify the range of attributes and characteristics we are looking for in the England Performance Pathway, when nominating players to attend Satellite or County Academy screening events. For more information and to watch the video, please visit:http://scouting.englandnetball.co.uk/

If you have any top tips that you would like to share with the Netball Coaching Family please do tweet us @ENCoaching_ or post on the Facebook page. Good Luck with your trials.

And that is ‘Top 10’ over and out!

Team Coaching


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