When the ball flies down the court with precision and accuracy it is a great coaching moment.
Coaching a team to develop this speed with the ball takes many hours and includes many skills and strategies.
Footwork, ballwork and strategy mixed around with some belief and teamwork can cook up a recipe that no other team can beat.
I love ball speed and had been taught as a player to have the ability to change the pace of speed on court but all that has changed. The game now has become more physical and demanding. To slow the ball down means you have defenders all over your players. It can be exhausting for your players to keep offering to a ball that never comes their way so they have to clear out and go again.
Watching some of the ANZ matches some teams choose to go backwards a fair bit. I feel sorry for the forward court as they have all made their leads and when they don’t get the ball they are hammered by the opposition and then off they go again offering to a player that has no hesitation to throw it behind.
Players need to look down court and see what’s available. Those offering should have done some work off the ball so when the receiver has control they are clear. Angles should be easy for the ball carrier and not on huge diagonals which makes the pass difficult at speed as the thrower may choose the safe option behind.
Long balls contribute to an easy passage of play. Long balls can fly down at speed and free up the attackers from being tightly defended. As soon as there is a rebound, look down at what players are offering and release. Interestingly enough, GK’s on the whole, struggle with releasing a long ball so practice this a lot at training.
Developing solid footwork is essential as footwork is the foundation to ball skills. Work on footwork at most of your training sessions and get the players to move efficiently at speed, change direction on a 50 cent piece and have the ability to drive hard onto a ball.
Once the footwork is at an acceptable level introduce the ball skills and work hard on technique which will then develop into speed, flair and accuracy.
If you have the opportunity to train your team twice a week do so as this will cement their newly acquired skills from training and makes it easier to pick it all up and go again at the next session.
Work a lot on bringing the ball down the court from a rebound or throw in. Get your players working together and understanding who drives where and have them look for more than one option on the drive. Ask them to continue to work and get those feet moving until that ball has gone through the ring.
Strong footwork and ball skills will assist that ball to make it from one end to the other with the grace and precision you have asked for. Practice, practice, practice and this will be achievable.
Remember you can’t ask the players to perform a skill they haven’t worked on at training. The more information you can give your players the more knowledge they have to be the best they can be. That can only be a good thing can’t it?
Ball speed. Love it!
Written by Melissa O’Brien