Diamonds and Silver Ferns – Coaches Decisions are Crucial to Outcome

| Posted inWeekly Blog

So much can be learnt from watching Netball.
In the past two weeks we’ve had the opportunity to watch three test matches between New Zealand and Australia.

It was interesting to see the Australian Coach, Norma Plummer, so confident in her charges approaching the first match with a short, sharp attack end having the intention of making the ball move fast through the zone.  Opting to choose shorter, faster players against the Kiwis zoning tall timbers.
In the first test this theory worked giving the Australian’s the first win of the Constellation Cup.  Now the second test proved to be a completely different ball game.  The New Zealand Coach, Ruth Aiken and her assistant Wy, went back to the drawing board and worked on a different approach to the second game.  Bringing on the tall and lanky Anna Scarlet with a wing span of an albatross accompanied by Casey Williams in the circle was a formidable combination especially when Norma Plummer had chosen height going for Cath Cox as shooter.  New Zealand’s defence was magnificent with turnover after turnover.  The Australian speed game had gone and even if they did get a run on, the shooting circle was in disarray.
Norma had no answers for the Kiwi onslaught and when I think of it, if I was coaching and to be beaten by 19 goals to me that’s a flogging especially at this level.  So now the Kiwis have a plan.  They have let Australia know that they are competitive and wanting up for the Gold Medal in Delhi.  They have given the Aussies a taste of what they are capable of and the second test was the only taste the Aussies were going to get.
Ruth played a different third test giving 10 of the 12 players a run.  New Zealand played a completely different game changing up the shooting circle enabling the new shooters to experience the strength and force of the Aussie defence.  Norma stayed with the same combination wanting to win that final test and regain some pride.
Prior to the test series, media had Norma saying her way of selection gave more opportunities to more players allowing her to pick her strongest team from a squad of 15.  Ruth on the other hand had picked a straight 12 and started her preparation with the Silver Ferns from the get go. Creating the team atmosphere and starting the regime of weight programmes, sports psychology, training sessions, diet, fitness sessions and many other methods of preparation for the road to Delhi.
As a coach I love watching this level of Netball to see coaches pushed into making crucial decisions for their team’s outcome.  I love watching their sideline behaviour and their interaction with the players during injury breaks and quarter breaks.  I also watch the girls on the bench to see how they are feeling and to see how they support the seven on the court.  The depth of a team is the bench and their true commitment to any team that takes the court.   At this level all the players are elite and all find it hard to be benched but in my experience as a player and coach one bad attitude on the bench can erode a team.
So we are in for a treat with Commonwealth Games around the corner.  England is in there fighting for a finals spot but I really can’t see the Silver Ferns or the Diamonds not making finals.
Bring it on…
Written By Melissa O’Brien