Good Evening Coaches…It’s that Top 10 time of the month again and we have spoken to a whole host of coaches, along with some Team Managers, to bring you this month’s exciting selection. As we draw to the end of the season, we are looking at;
Preparing for Competition
When we refer to competition it could be your regular weekly match, finals, or a weekend tournament. Whatever competitive environment your players are faced with, we hope you find some tips below to help to support them in their preparation.
- Sheonah Forbes – Performance Development and Performance Club Coach
On squad selection
We are in the middle of national semi-finals preparation and when selecting the team we need to consider our opposition’s strengths and weaknesses. My top tip would be to make sure you that have two players in each position that provide different styles of play so that you are prepared for different oppositions you face.
I also think it is important to make sure the players know how to withstand pressure; something we do in training sometimes is to use rugby pads to gently nudge against the shooters put them off balance, this increases the intensity in training to simulate a match.
- Sam Meade – Performance Development and Performance Club Coach
Be organised! Think about what the competition looks like; run through the day on your own to consider all those involved and how they contribute to the day. Be smart about what you can and can’t do so that it doesn’t distract from your coaching.
If you are lucky enough to have a team manager make sure you meet with them in advance; the team manager should run the day so that the coach can coach and players can play.
If you have a supportive parent that regularly comes along on match day, why not involve them and ask if they would like to be a Team Manager?
- Sarah Wakeman – National Academy Team Manager
On planning the day
Plan well in advance of the day of competition with a Team Manager’s kit bag that is fully stocked, up to date and neatly packed for quick access to any single item.
- Pam Hazelton – Performance Club Coach
Ensure your players are training with intensity throughout all training practices. They must be training as they play to enable them to implement strategies into matches.
Ways to increase intensity…at Make the Game Live on the road we look at ways to build intensity into your training. A helpful way to remember is through the acronym; STEPS
Space (Increase/Decrease size of area)
Task/ Time (Place increased or decreased time frames in which to achieve a target)
Equipment (Provide different equipment, use different balls, a frisbee, or a rugby pad like Sheonah)
People / Players / Pressure (More/fewer players, unopposed, create overloads to build success, create underloads to create a challenge…)
Safety (The game is inherently dangerous to an extent, but ensure safety aspects are well managed and don’t allow practices or games to become unnecessarily dangerous.)
- Sarah Gandon – National Squad Team Manager
On managing the support team
Make sure all support staff feel like part of the team, if they all know their role in how you are going to achieve your goal and everyone’s role is valued equally you will have a top performing team on and off the court.
- Louise Hopkin & Victoria Thornton- Adult Participation / Performance Club Coaches
Analyse the performance of your opposition before and after the game. Be creative in set plays and responsive to what you know about your opponents.
- Katy Ritchie – Youth Coach
Recently I have started to take more girls to competition that haven’t played in a club environment before. It is really important to explain to them what is required of them at competition and how it can differ from what they may be used to at school. It is about coaching the whole player…making sure they plan ahead and have a proper breakfast on the day. I encourage them to be well rested, however if they are having a sleepover the night before and likely to only get a few hours of sleep, they need to let me know!
It is important to take the time to explain umpiring, that the players need to listen to them and react to the comments they give. Demonstrate that they can listen and adjust their play within the quarter, within the game.
- Rob McKee – Youth / Performance Club Coach
We have a thread within training throughout the year…in the lead up to competition our training would vary dependant on the type of competition we are facing. For example if it is a tournament we have much less time in matches, so the focus would be speed across court. We would have a few focused training sessions around this.
We would also look at any weak areas on court – and focus on strengthening this with specific practices to re-inforce the day/training session before.
I also ensure that individual positions have set objectives in the lead up to competition which will be their goal on match day and we will practice certain things in training. GS/GA shooting %/defence turnover %.
For example; WD must turn it over times in 1st quarter. If you do that you’re successful. If a final only 1 or 2. For every C I want you to deny 1st phase deny WA first ball etc. This keeps the player very focused in the game about what they must achieve, having very specific targets gives players a sense of purpose.
Players of all ages and abilities benefit from a focused approach to a match, provide your players with awareness of what it will be in advance. In preparation for competition ensure you provide coaching on how they can achieve their goal.
- Karen Greig – Performance Development and Performance Club Coach
On setting goals
Ahead of competition it is really important to ensure you set both team and unit goals. I talk to the players and set minimum standards to meet the desired outcome of the game (to win!).
Spend a little time in training in the lead up, and speak to units and the team as a whole. For example; 80% of CP to goal, shooters to be hitting 85%, converting 65% of turnovers…if all units meet their target the outcome should be that you win.
- Lyn Winkworth – Performance Club Coach
Lyn’s advice is simply put;
And we are with you Lyn! Nutrition is essential for good performance, keeping mentally focused, maintaining energy levels, and keeping hydrated!
For example; if at an all-day tournament your players need to ensure that their glycogen stores in the muscles are replenished. These will deplete after around 60 minutes of exercise and optimal performance cannot be achieved.
As a coach it is important that you communicate the importance of good nutrition to your athletes. Although we are not nutrition experts, basic advice can be reminded to players and parents;
- Encourage them to have a substantial, healthy breakfast (E.g. porridge with banana, wholemeal toast and peanut butter)
- Ensure they eat any large meal 1.5-2 hours before exercise
- Bring plenty of re-fuel snacks (fruit, flapjacks)
- Bring plenty of water to hydrate, as well as juice.
- Remind them post exercise nutrition is also important (aka; remind them not to go for the junk food on the way home!)
Spend a little time writing up some basic guidance (Keep it basic unless you are a qualified sports nutritionist!) on beneficial nutrition and share with players and parents ahead of the event.
A little bit more info on nutrition and netball from the England Netball website; click here.
Now we are aware that not all coaches are lucky enough to have a team manager, or any support whatsoever. Many of these tips should all still apply, whatever age and ability you coach. You goal might be to make sure all players get three quarters on court, you might have individual player goals to always set up a 2nd stage defence when their opponent has the ball. Think about how the coaches top tips can relate to your players and adjust accordingly.
Next month we are looking at Top Tips for on competition day; keeping focused and getting the best out of your players. If you would like to submit a suggestion please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject ‘Top 10’.
Apologies for the day delay with this post, Team Coaching were busy in Manchester at Make the Game Live on the Road yesterday. We were pleased to meet LOTS of enthusiastic coaches and share some key messages on the Future of Coaching. If you would like to attend MTGL on the road there are two that still have a few places available;
East Midlands, 6:30-9:30pm, Monday 22nd February.
To find out more information and to book a place, email: email@example.com
North East, 6:30-9:30pm, Monday 22nd March.
To find out more information and to book a place, email: firstname.lastname@example.org