What are the basics? My interpretation of basics would be passing and footwork. If I was to coach a team of seven-year old’s, passing and footwork would be top of the list.
Ok, so once those basics have been repeated on many occasions, sprayed with basics drills and game situations then it’s time to layer your training sessions.
Sometimes I believe Coaches underestimate the ability of young players. I walk around and see the same warm up routine, same ball work routine repeatedly. Little bored faces champing at the bit to learn more.
I’m a big fan of structure so the kids know who is getting what ball and have a backup. This can also teach them two offers for every pass. I have coached from five years and onwards including my own two daughters who are now in their 20’s.
As competitive as I am, never mentioned winning, just attended to the process and building on skill development week in and week out.
Young players should know some Court work:
- 3 different centre passes
- Centre court system (If the ball is caught in the centre third and on the GD’s side then the WA comes forward for the pass. If the ball is caught in the centre third on the WD’s side, then the GA comes forward for the pass)
- Side line throw ins
- Back line throw ins on attack and defence
For those coaches who can see their WA and GA playing high on the defence transverse line waiting for a ball from their defence, you need to get those players back to their positions and let the defenders bring the ball down the court. This troubling trend is causing havoc in the centre third and encouraging players to run away from the ball with stepping bound to happen. Let the defenders bring the ball at least to half way in the centre third then the WA and GA can drive onto the ball which stops all the stepping. Also let the defenders have a game otherwise the WA and GA are taking most of the passes. Your team cannot play a centre court system with the WA and GA playing high all the time.
Every training session should have a theme. Once the basics have been taught then start making theme based training sessions. Eg Hands over, front defence, dodging, intercepting etc. Include the basics in your session so players are using ball work and footwork skills although you are teaching them other skills as well. As you coach continue your error detection and correction with those basics.
Whenever you have taught your players a new skill then when they play you have coachable moments. If you have some structure on court players will stop panicking with ball and it will take the pressure off when they can turn and pass and know there will be an option. Panic will cause held ball and stepping. Structure will enable you as a coach to identify breakdown areas on court and instead of a general discussion to the team during the breaks about their performance you can be more specific.
I truly believe young players are like sponges. You may not think they are listening but I can assure you they are. Young players get bored with skills being taught and you need to persevere and get your message across. Last night I approached one of my Coach Ed Coaches with her eight-year-old team and she was teaching them shoulder passes. We had a chat and I said these little people are blank canvasses and she said, ‘I’m a scribbler’, hilarious. Very proud how she continued to coach the skill and those little players will be applying their new pass this Saturday.
When I coach skills during the Energy Netball Holiday Programs my focus is on all players walking away with skills they can apply to their game no matter what age.
So, my message to coaches with 7-12 year old’s is to include basics in every training and not make your training based on basics. Keep challenging them to absorb more skills, layering their on-court knowledge and enjoying their development during the season.
I have always said ‘you attend to the processes the process attends to itself’. Rewarding!