At what age does the focus on development change to winning

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At what age does the focus on development change to winning?
I receive many questions based a coach making the decision ‘Do I play to win or try to get all the players on the court?’
In every team some players will be stronger than others.  Not only in ability, they also may show more determination, commitment, drive, focus and consistency.  These players will prove to the coach that they can be dependable, reliable and responsible.  Other players may not display these qualities in a team sport and be more casual and not try as hard.

So now here is the question.  If your under 12 team is in a semi final or playing in a carnival what do you do?  Do you play the girls you know will win or do you give all the players a run on court and look at it more as development?
A coach’s decision would be based on some variables.  For instance your club or association may try to enforce a development focus.  This would allow more players to experience the game at a younger age therefore having more players’ progress to the next age group with more experience.  This would tend to have an outcome of a stronger competition and more players ready for representative level.
The other side of the coin is playing to win and putting the stronger players on more than using a rotation system.  This would assist in developing the stronger players and many parents would argue that if their child was in this category then this is what should be encouraged.
Netball is a team game.  Throughout any players career the team mechanics aren’t always based around winning with strong, experienced players.  As players develop they all need to understand the role they play in a team and feel part of collective goal.  Every player needs to take responsibility and do their best to contribute to the outcome of the team.
It is when a player does not have this attitude that it can become unstuck.  I’m always a firm believer that sport is 99.99% positive attitude.  This positive attitude is off and on the court.  It is wanting to be part of a team and assisting each and every player to be the best they can be.  This positive attitude will make a huge difference at trainings and at games.
So back to my original question, ‘Do I play to win or try to get all the players on the court?’  My answer is that all players should be getting court time in Under 12’s and that is if the club or association agree to this.  When players are turning 13 many variables change including commitment and attitude.  Playing all the players will assist in finding those little gems that even if they aren’t the best players their positive attitude will be an asset to any club or association for many years to come.
Written By Melissa O’Brien