Questions and Answers - Public
Please email me your questions and I will answer them in a blog.
If you don’t mind, I will acknowledge your question with your first name.
Q & A - Performing Skills on Court
Q. I’ve got a couple of girls who listen to everything I say in training and perform the drills I tell them to do really well. However when it comes to the game they seem to forget everything I taught them and shy away from their player? How can I fix this?
A. Two ideas why these two players do not perform the skills during the game could be parents coaching them or lack of confidence.
Repetition of skills at training will eventually pay off but this process takes a very long time. If they have been exposed to the skill for only a short period of time they could easily switch back to old habits because they don’t back themselves.
I have also heard parents telling their kids to do this….. and not what the coach has told you to do. Sad, but it happens.
Q&A - Players that break
Q. How do I stop players from breaking on centre passes? They keep falling forward although I’ve told them to stand straight and balanced on the transverse line.
A. You can do some footwork drills with these players. Getting them to start with a square stance, feet as wide as shoulders and knees bent slightly. Line them up on the line and blow the whistle. As this is a problem you have singled out, work with these players on the line first with no defence. Look at having various centre passes so the players know who is getting centre passes to eliminate everyone running out.
Q & A -Court Time
Q. Hi, my daughter plays in a local U16’s netball team in one of the major leagues in our area. She has not had as much experience or coaching in netball as the other girls on the team. The coach is really keen on building her skills and confidence. My daughter has been getting on the court at least one quarter per game and she has been playing really well. We had to travel around 100kms today for the game and the coach said to her that she would be going on in the last quarter. At the end of the 3rd quarter the team was down by 1 goal and the coach instead of putting my daughter on put another girl on and the team ended up winning by 10 goals. Obviously a good move by the coach. But what has it now done to my daughters confidence, she is saying now that if the coach believed she could do it why did she not put me on the court. Really not sure how to tackle this situation. Please help.
A. There are a few points here that are very important. I have learnt the lesson of not promising court time as it is very difficult to know how each quarter is going to pan out so my first point is the promise of court time. As a coach, either don’t say anything about court time and if you do you should commit to your promise.
The second is your daughter is new to the game at that level and does lack experience. I understand how far you had to travel but she is only a baby. Being so young she will need to just get back on that horse and keep trying. Her confidence shouldn’t hinge on a promise to play one quarter. There are going to be many more disappointments in netball but also there will be some great moments.
My advice is to never give and up and continue to work on her skills and court craft. Be so good that the coach can’t afford to give her one quarter off. Train hard away from the team trainings and train hard at team trainings. Nothing comes easy and it just takes hard work to get that court time.
Q & A - Breaking the Press or Zone
Q. Could you please post any ideas for drills to help attacking players deal with a full court press defence. This season is the first time my girls (14-15yrs) have come across it – perhaps because they are playing up in the Open 1 comp this year. Liz
A. To break a full court press or zone, firstly the players need to identify it then collectively pick up their players and turn it back to one on one.
The girls need to be vocal about the press and call each other onto their players then the opposition will react. The press or zone is an interception strategy not a one on one. It creates false space forcing the opposition to throw to the spaces although they are covered.
Turn this back to one on one and the zone or press is broken.
Q & A - Limited Time to Change Bad Habits
Q. I have a total of 5 training sessions to prepare a brand new mix of players for an up and coming u11s ‘friendly’ carnival. The skill level is varied (to say the least). Knowing I can not make a whole lot of difference in such a short time, i thought i would only work on the following skills: Pass in front, clear-out then dodge and lead forward, leap to outside foot pivot, shadow defending.
I figure that is as much as I can ask, and expect to achieve. And then the second half of training to be heavily coached scratch-matches for familiarity. Am I underestimating them? I value your thoughts. - Shirley
A. Having coached under 11’s before I always think the opposition doesn’t know a lot so I work on these strategies.
Centre passes are your bread and butter. Teach them three centre passes so they know who gets what ball.
Teach them sideline throw ins and backline throw ins. Again this is possession and the kids need to know who gets what ball.
I also teach positional play at this age. If the ball is coming down on the GD’s side and the GD is in the centre third then WA comes up. If it comes down the WD’s side then the GA comes up to get it. Also to stay in their areas on court. Teaching them how to do a long ball is a must at this age and enables your team to get the ball down court easily.
I also love teaching the 11’s the centre court press. They love it and the opposition doesn’t know what to do.
With five trainings left just make sure they know who gets what ball. Don’t leave it to them to make a decision otherwise you will be pulling your hair out on the side line. At this age stepping is a given with some players and it is a hard habit to break. Make those players stop and take their time. Also encourage others to quickly go up and offer so the serial stepper doesn’t throw it away. Try to have one stepper on the court at a time if you have the luxury of a bench.
Also help those shooters. Every training session should finish with a shooting drill. Good Luck and please don’t hesitate to contact me should you require further tips.
Q & A - My Daughter
Q. My question is, what do I do if my daughter is playing in a team that can’t catch and steps all the time? She is the strongest by far and her game is deteriorating. She is only 12 so I don’t want her forming bad habits now.
Jen – Sydney, NSW
A. Jen this is a difficult one. Is she playing with her friends? Is she in a Representative team at her association? Is there another team at the club that is her age group that plays in a higher division? If she is with her friends and doesn’t want to move then it would be difficult to suggest another team for her. If she is in a rep team and gets quality coaching then she will be playing with others of her own ability. If there is a higher team in the club that she can move to then enquire about her moving up. It is important that your daughter is ok with what you propose as it is paramount she enjoys Netball.
Q & A - Deciding where to play
Q. I am just about to sign on my 12 year old daughter to a club at our local association. Do we go to a club with a good coach? How do we find out where the good coaches are? Do we ask the association to find us a club? My daughter has only played school netball and has never played for a club. Please advise.
Emma – Sydney, NSW
A. As your daughter is still a junior, does she have any friends that are going to this particular association? If she does, maybe playing with friends might be a good start. After your first season with your new club, you will be able to assess where your daughter wants to play. Coaching is important although you really would like her to enjoy her friends, learn new skills and enjoy her netball. Associations have so many coaching clinics on offer there will always be chances to improve skills during the season.
Q & A- Pre-season over Holidays
Q. I have given my team a pre-season program over the holiday period. We don’t meet again until mid January so do you have suggestions on how to make sure they are doing the work?
Pam – WA
A. I would be making sure they are all completing an activity diary. Ask them to email you the diary at the end of each month and give them some feedback. Let them know you will be monitoring their progress and expect them to be at a certain fitness level when they all come back for their first training session. You will see who hasn’t done their work over the break. Unfortunately those who don’t do their homework are on the back foot for most of the season. Be vigilant at monitoring their progress.
Q & A - Improving Skills
Q. I have a question and it may sound a little silly. If my child doesn’t have a very knowledgeable coach (school team), what can I do to help her skills improve? I’m not a coach and have very little knowledge of technique.
Lacey – Western Australia
A. There are a few steps you can take to assist your daughter to improve. You can ring your local association to see if there are any player clinics on over the holidays. Also your ANZ team ‘West Coast Fever’ do run clinics for players so ring Netball WA to see what they have coming up. You could also see if you can employ the assistance of a qualified coach and maybe organise some individuals.
Q & A - Netball shoes
Q. I coach a team of 15 year old girls. My question is - parents ask me do I know what footwear the players should be playing in eg. asics as they are finding them so expensive. Can you recommend another brand?
Kate – Queensland
A. Footwear is a personal preference. A lot of the players wear Asics although there are alternatives. The game has become so much more demanding on the body so it is important to have quality footwear to assist in the prevention of injuries. It is wise to go to a store that can give assistance when fitting their feet. I have a daughter with size 13 women’s feet and find the Athletes Foot provides expert information and quality footwear. Be careful if players are purchasing Netball Shoes online as the fittings may be incorrect. Players should try to be playing in Netball Shoes and be wary of cross trainers as they are not designed for the movement of a Netball Player on court.
Q & A - Playing both ends of the Court
Q. My daughter is 14 and plays both GA and GD. Do you think she should start concentrating on one position or continue to play both?
Janice – South Australia
A. This is an interesting one because if she is strong in both positions this can be a positive at trials. Coaches do like players that can be strong in more than one position. Both positions will give her more understanding on court and help improve both her attacking and defending skills. I am sure when she gets older, practicing her goals will be required more often so she will need to decide if she wants to put a lot of work going to the post each day. Playing both can only improve her game.
Q & A - Struggling with Injuries
Q. I coach an open side and we have been struggling with injuries. We play on the outside courts and it is so hard on the girl’s bodies. Do you have any suggestions with regards to injury prevention as I want to give them some information that will assist them next season?
David – Victoria
A. As I don’t know their level of fitness or what division they play, a strength and conditioning program over the summer will only assist them in the prevention of injuries. They need to gain strength over the off season and achieve and maintain a level of fitness for the season ahead. You could seek the assistance of a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach to start them on a program. The only problem will be those players that can’t be bothered so you will have to monitor players and make sure all of them are completing their programs. Also players will need adequate footwear for the outdoor courts and also the correct footwear for running. Most players will have a pair of netball shoes and a pair of running shoes. Another aspect you will need to work on is your warm up. Make sure your players are warmed up prior to taking the court.
Q & A - Keeping Active over summer
Q. My daughter is 15 and has no Netball on at the moment. I would like to encourage her to be active over summer. Do you have any suggestions?
Glenyse – Victoria
A. If your daughter is playing rep next year squads are currently being selected. If she isn’t in a rep team and looking to play Netball maybe you could look into a Netball summer league in your area. Sometimes kids like a break from Netball over summer and would like to do something else. Basketball can be a great way of keeping fit and meeting new friends. Also ask your winter season coach if she or he can provide a maintenance program over the summer that requires at least three fitness sessions per week. If your daughter is a shooter, it is important to keep practising over the break so encourage at least one session per week.
Q & A - Standing ground against GS/GA
Q . How close can the GK/GD stand facing a GS/GA when they are putting a shot up if they are not defending the shot? e.g. defence arms by their side. My daughter is playing defence this season and is seeking clarification on this rule. At times the goalies will plant their back foot & lunge forward to take a pass then bring their feet together to take the shot. Does the defending player need to move back 3ft from the goaler’s grounded foot if they don’t put their arms up to defend the shot? My daughter is 11 & playing full rules association netball.
Sharon – Valley View S.A.
A . Below is a copy of the rule. This decision whether to blow the whistle is also an umpires perception of the defenders distance. As the players get older the goalie will do this to try and draw an obstruction. Defenders need to work on quickly recovering and getting their distance. If they cannot then they need to call a switch and get the other defender to assist and they then set up for rebounds.
Player with ball: the nearer foot of the defender must be 0.9m (3ft) feet from the landing foot of the player with the ball, or the spot where the first foot had landed if one has been lifted. The defender may jump to intercept or defend the ball from this 0.9m (3ft) feet distance
Player without ball: the defender may be close, but not touching, providing that no effort is made to intercept or defend the ball and there is no interference with the opponents throwing or shooting action. Arms must be in a natural position, not outstretched, and no other part of the body or legs may be used to hamper an opponent. (article from Netball Online)
Q & A - Last Minute Sub
Q. I have seen some coaches give a benchie the last few minutes of a game when the coach knows the team has won. What are your thoughts?
Gemma – Brisbane, Queensland
A. Yes, I’ve noticed this in school Netball. Has a bit of a basketball flavour to getting people on the court so everyone gets a run. If I was on the bench and got put on with a minute or two to go, knowing that we had already won, I would be slightly wounded. I also struggle with the player not warming up so sitting there for at least 10 minutes then told to join an intense finish to a match. Personally, I don’t do this and I do feel empathy for the players so work hard at respecting their feelings without penalising the team for a positive outcome. If the player is upset that they are not on, putting them on for two minutes won’t change the way they feel.
Q & A - Resistance Training
Q. Can you please tell me some resistance exercises they use for netball players
Glenda – iphone
A. When it comes to correct technique for either resistance or weight training, you should get professional advice from a qualified personal trainer. Over the years I have developed my personal pre, during and post season training with the assistance of professionals. It is important the players are taught the correct technique as injury can be an outcome without it. There are many web sites with video footage demonstrating various exercises relating to netball resistance training. Just make sure you research well before you start your resistance training.
Q & A - Shin Splints
Q. I have a player that has shin splints all the time. I have spoken to her mother and they are seeing a physio and have said they have done everything they can but every time we start training they flare up again and she is in so much pain. Has this ever happened to you when coaching?
Jenny – Auckland, New Zealand
A. I have had this problem in the past with players and myself. Mine were so serious in Canberra when I was at the AIS. Footwear seems to be a contributing factor and I notice when some players get new shoes their problems begin. Also training in the cold and on outdoor courts can also aggravate shin splints. I remember when we were issued sponsors footwear at the AIS and the training conditions were extremely cold that my shin splints became so severe my legs were swollen and I was close to having an op. This is how extreme this can become so training through this pain is not recommended. When I changed my netball shoes my shins improved and I never had shin splints again. My advice would be not to train anyone complaining of shin soreness until they have found the reason and show no signs of pain.
Q & A - Building a Shooter's Confidence after a break
Q. I was wondering if you had any tips on how to build a shooter's confidence? Our shooter missed half of last season due to work commitments and has started this season as a shadow of her former self! Her body language and demeanour when shooting indicate a lack of confidence though she seems more confident during general play. I know she's been practising her shooting but it seems all her confidence goes once the game starts.
We've been promoted as well so our games are much tougher (and closer) than last season which adds a little more pressure. It's awful watching her struggle! Any suggestions? Many thanks.
Jo - UK
A. Any player can lose their confidence after a break and a shooter, unfortunately, has the burden of poor shooting stats to go along with average play. I have coached many players after pregnancy and they too go through the same down time. Fitness is an important factor in gaining self confidence especially if the games are tough. If a player knows they have prepared then they are more confident out on court. Your player may like to get herself a gym membership and start a strength and conditioning program. Along with practicing her shots she will improve physically and mentally. Have a great season Jo.
Q & A - Negative Reaction to Umpire Calls
Q. Hi. Just wondering what you tell your players when it comes to poor umpiring calls. Some of my players have a tendency to react and the umpire will pick on them all game.
Faye - Welllington, NZ
A. Just like teaching players skills you should also go over how to react with umpiring calls. A negative reaction can lose a game. No matter how well we coach our teams, if the umpires start calling the shots and dislike your team then winning becomes a whole lot harder. It’s important to have your players accept the call, learn from it and put it behind them. If an umpire keeps blowing them out of the game for distance over the shot then have your defender adjust. Don’t let the players continue to be pulled up for the same thing. At the moment, what the umpires are loving are a few calls; not within the centre circle for centre passes, not behind the line on centre passes and breaking. Adjust and smile.
Q & A - Coaching My Daughter
Q. We had a great season although we didn’t win. I was very careful about court time as my daughter was in the team yet I still had disgruntled parents saying my daughter was on more than theirs. Any ideas on this subject?
Lexie – Melbourne, Victoria
A. This is a tough one. I’m not sure what age group you’re coaching and have to assume you coach a young team if parents are complaining. Most coaches will be parents of players and if we didn’t have parents coaching we would have no teams. I don’t think other parents realise how difficult coaching is to start with especially when your own child is in the team. I have found coaching my children that I tend to be harder on them than other members of the team. Maybe discuss this at your team meeting with parents before the season begins. I have witnessed some coaches favouring their child to the point of the child crying when they are not on and Mum getting bullied to put them back on. On these occasions I don’t believe this is acceptable behaviour and the club should step in as the entire team will lose respect for the coach and her/his daughter.
Q & A - Finals Playing Roster
Q. We have finals on the weekend and I’m still at pains in deciding whether I play everyone and maybe risk a loss or play my strongest for a win. Can you shed any light on this as I’ve felt sick all week?
Mae – Perth, WA
A. This is a tough decision and it does depend on how you have approached your season. If you have been giving equal court time to the players then they will expect court time in finals. If there has been an obvious division in your strong and not so strong players and you have given your extras limited court time, they may not expect to play finals. This does need to be discussed with the team and usually at a training session. Just explain your pain and you will attempt to get everyone on the court. Coaching is not tangible and outcomes are not certain so you need to go with your gut feeling. All the best for the weekend.
Q & A - Player Rotation
Q. I coach an under 8 team and rotate the players every quarter. I find the players get so confused changing positions four times in one game. Is there an easier way than explaining the positions every quarter to each player?
Julie – Sydney, NSW
A. I coached both my daughters and have been through the frustration of the rotation system. The association we were with allowed us to change every half which made it so much easier on the kids to understand their positions. At training I would hand out to each player position sheets shading in the area they were allowed to go and their starting position. I would also let the players know what positions they would be playing in for the next game and asked them to make sure they study their position sheets before our game. The rotation system is a great way to give all players an opportunity to play every position.
Q & A - Changing Positions
Q. We have just started our season and I have nine players. They are aged between 17 and 19 years. Some players tell me they only play one position but I need them to play another. If I don’t play them in the position they want they get upset. Do you have any ideas on how to handle this situation.
June – Birmingham, UK
A. This is not a one off as it happens in nearly every team. Players need to understand they have to play where their team needs them. Maybe you should point that out at trials so players are aware they might not play all season in the position of their choice. I would keep communicating with the team and condition them into understanding the ‘Team’ game. Many times I have changed a GA into a Centre or a WD to a Centre or a GD into a GK etc. They might be pleasantly surprised how much they love their new position.
Q & A - Building confidence in players during finals
Q. I am the coach of a 13 year old team and just wondering if you could give me some ideas to help stop the downward spiral of confidence when things start to go wrong during the game. That is they start making basic mistakes like stepping, dropping the ball etc. During quarter time there is so much to say and so little time. How can you be effective and inspiring with what you say...any advice?
Catherine – Gold Coast, Queensland
A. This is when strategies can carry players. For instance if you have set moves from the back line in the defence end, side line throw ins, centre passes, back line throw ins in the attack end and a mid court system to bring the ball down you will find coaching so much easier. It won’t be a player that makes mistakes more like an area on court that is not following the strategy and so it can be more easily identified. I find as players get older the odd player will not do the strategy and go out there thinking they know better and they can be the reason errors are occurring. A 13 year old team are like sponges and do pretty much what they are told. Your team talks during the breaks will be more directed at areas that are breaking down rather than directed at one particular player.
Q & A - Assistant Coach
Q. I am an assistant coach. This season I had a lot of difficultly fitting in as an assistant coach. Do you have any suggestions of how I can feel helpful during the season as I felt I just stood there and didn’t feel I contributed very much. The girls had an average season and there were so many things I would have liked to comment on.
Jan – Hobart, Tasmania
A. Being an assistant coach is harder than being the head coach. Yes, the buck stops with the head coach but how hard is it to try and help a coach when you may both be on a different page. You must have felt your comments weren’t of any value or maybe you felt you didn’t have the respect of the players. Next time you take on the role, sit down with the coach and discuss your job within the team. When do you have an opportunity to coach? Is there a possibility to splitting the team at training and doing specialist sessions? Are you allowed to make coaching comments to players without them being vetted by the head coach? Establish your role and if you start to feel left out again make sure you discuss this with the coach and both keep on track with your coaching plan as discussed at the beginning.
Q & A - WA Injury
Q. Our WA cannot play the rest of the season because of injury and she was such a strong player. Our new WA is not familiar with the position and we are struggling to get the ball into the circle. We are on track for finals but have lost the last couple of games. Any suggestions?
Rosemary – Randwick, NSW
A. WA is such a crucial position. They set the tone for the attack end and normally do the majority of feeding into the circle. A suggestion is to bring your WD and GD onto the transverse line and get them to assist with feeding. If it’s not on in front then look to the transverse line and start again. Take the pressure off and give all the players in the attack end a back up. The kiwis do this a lot. If you have a WD or GD with a good long ball they may be able to find the shooter from the transverse line. Worth a try if what you’re doing right now isn’t working.
Q & A - Rep Squads
Q. We start selecting our rep squads for next season next month and I was wondering your opinion of what to do with those players who trial for many associations. We have been burnt before by allowing them into our rep squad program only to have them leave and go elsewhere just before the team is picked.
Ron – Subiaco, WA
A. This seems to be happening to a lot of associations and it is disappointing when you invest time and money into players. The main reason for them moving is being promised more court time by other teams. Loyalty is a word that is thrown around loosely these days and rarely do players stay for this reason anymore. I am sure if an association has a strong coaching team and a professional approach to the rep program players will want to stay with you. If there are whispers about who is in what team prior to trials then I suppose players will shift if they know they have no chance of making a team. Commitment and loyalty needs to be explained to the rep squads before training commences and maybe a bond upfront with a refund if the player misses out on a team. An interesting stat would be to see how many players leave your association and maybe a feedback form for those who leave may give some clues as to reasons for player movement.
Q & A - Shooting Practice
Q. How many times per week should a goaler/shooter practice their shooting?
Jo – Proserpine, QLD
A. Practice, practice, practice. Many of the greats have been great because of their accuracy. Everyday would be ideal but that can only happen if they have a post in their back yard. Shooters need to practise their shots with a reasonably high heart rate and also a defender or some kind of distraction. To put a shooter in a simulated situation would be ideal as it would be more realistic of an actual game. I have shooting programs available that include footwork and court work assisting the shooter to train with a purpose. To stand in front of a post and put shots up is a very unlikely scenario on court so encourage the shooters to practice with pressure. If your shooters are missing they are not practicing and it is as easy as that.
Q & A - Late for Training
Q. I am a new coach this year and took on an under 9 team. At the beginning of the season my manager and I made sure we had all the contact details for every player and their parents. We asked for mobile numbers and email addresses. We had one player that was late for every training and not because of one particular reason. To make the situation more difficult, the parent would arrive about half an hour late to pick her up. One time I had to drop the player off as it was over an hour. This happened on so many occasions and I didn’t want to punish the player as it wasn’t her fault. Do you have any advice?
Mandy – Winthrop, WA
A. This has actually happened to me. I would sit there in the dark with two sisters waiting for someone to pick them up. Sometimes it was their brother picking them up or another family member. Both parents didn’t own a mobile so it was difficult to contact them when they were late. When you take on a coaching role you also get to know your players and other aspects of their lives. If there is a difficulty getting them to training and picking them up then maybe you could consider having training on another day. Sunday can be a great day to train as most parents aren’t caught up with work. You will need to sit down and talk to both parents about the importance of being there on time and also being picked up on time. If the parents have made the commitment for their children to participate then part of that commitment needs to be getting them there and home. You haven’t mentioned being late for games as the two girls that were always late for me would just turn up on the buzzer. At the beginning of the season emphasise the importance of being prompt to training and also give all parents a definite finish time.
Q & A - Feeding a tall Shooter
Q. I have a very tall shooter with limited movement and no-one can throw to her. It is so frustrating and we practice feeding her the ball every session but in a game the GA, WA and Centre go back to throwing it away. What can I do to help the feeders find my shooter?
Therese – Rockhampton, Queensland
A. Throwing a ball to a tall shooter is a skill. National teams and ANZ Championship teams are all opting for tall shooters. It’s ok to find a tall shooter but the trick is to find great feeders. The lob is the most effective pass into a tall shooter and the shooter needs to be able to hold her defender and create space for the ball to be dropped into. Your shooter should also be able to dodge, roll, clear, drive to the ball, run forward and back, lunge and of course hold. Teaching your GA, WA and Centre to ascertain what pass for what situation is an ongoing skill and needs to be visited at every training session.
Q & A– Specialist Sessions
Q. How do I manage to coach three areas on court at one training session – shooters, centre court and defence?
Val – Unley, SA
A. Your training sessions should have a theme, eg one on one defence, long ball, clearing runs, the list goes on. For specialist sessions sometimes it’s a good idea to start your coaching session 30 minutes earlier and give time to specific areas on court. You could write up a weekly planner so the players know who is required early. This planner could also display their personal fitness sessions, eg runs, weights, recovery, strength and conditioning etc.
Q & A - Court Time
Q. My 12 year old team has made the grand final and I am worried that I won’t be able to get all ten players on the court. Do I play to win or play to get all the girls to experience a grand final?
Rebecca – Castle Hill, NSW
A. I suppose it depends on how you have conditioned the players and parents all year. If everyone agrees to play to win then you play what you believe to be your winning team with the changes you make during the game of course. Your club management may have their thoughts on this so you should talk with them. This is a very hard decision and needs to be discussed with your team before the big day.