I have always been of the theory the more information the players have the more skills they can draw from on court. At the age of nine, my little team could understand all the centre passes, side line throw-ins, base line throw-ins, centre court press, circle defence zone and court systems. Our opposition had no chance as they were still doing four corners or round the circle at their training sessions. I would look around when we were training to see other coaches not taking their players that extra step. Remembering they are still on a rotation roster at this age so all players needed to know their role in each position which can be equally challenging.
Our first centre pass was always to the GD or WD driving down, the GS coming out on a straight drive and receiving from either GD or WD and the GA doing a nice clearing run to receive the ball under the post. We would do this every game and each time the opposition still would have no clue what we were doing.
This is a great way to coach the players to work as a team. When coaching younger players there will always be the girls struggling with ball skills and co-ordination. I found if we had strategies in place this would help those players so they wouldn’t stand out as the weaker on court.
When teaching new skills and strategies to young players, an idea is to do up a fortnightly or monthly newsletter and distribute this to the parents. Interestingly enough, parents are just as eager as their children to learn about the progress of their child and the team. If parents are aware of what you are trying to achieve with the team they understand throwaways and then also understand the strategy of gaining back possession. We all know that some children have the lecture in the car on the way to the game and this newsletter may change the tone of the lecture and hopefully they will refer to the information you have provided them.
There is nothing more rewarding as a coach than watching your little troops perform what they have been taught out on court. It’s not only satisfying for the coach, also the players and supporters. The Skills Stat Sheet, available in the Coaching Resources drop down box, is a great way to measure how many times the players are giving the more difficult skills and strategies a go.