One of the ways that I give back to the game that I love, other than supporting and motivating my own two daughters, is to coach a team. The age range is 13-16 and I swore to myself that I would never, ever, ever, get involved in that age group, because much to their surprise I was once that age too (and a touchy age at the best of times).
School holiday time though has sort of changed since I was that age. It was when most of my friends all disappeared to other parts of the country spending it with extended family members camping or staying with them, and I too used to head to my grandfathers. My friends and I would then catch up again a few days before school started, to talk about what we did, where we went, and oh-oh, the boys we met and for some of us didn’t meet.
With the constraint of living in todays society where both parents have to work, or where the parents are separated, and families are blended, it can be a bit of a struggle to sometimes get my head around where my “girls” are during school holiday times.
Social media networking works for me as a tool to keep in touch with my “girls” over these times, something that we never had when I was growing up, short of homing pigeons, smoke signals or the landline (which was definitely off limits to us), and as a coach I can share without prejudice their ups and downs during this tricky time of their lives.
Another tool specifically for training that I am now using is recorded ANZ Championship games (as these are current) mixed with a walk/run along the beach to get an ice-cream. I like the idea that the girls can walk and talk and really get to know each other and chat in a casual setting about their holiday ventures to that point.
I also give the girls focus points to watch for, in the game that I have chosen to watch for training. In some instances I will ask my WA to watch what the GD does in the opposition, as she is demonstrating the defensive movement that we are trying to achieve. Televised games also give a good visual of the movements the big girls use, and you can clearly see triangles, sweeps and clear outs all the way down the court. With the slow motion playback speed I can show them things in slow mo and reiterate that I don’t actually want it to be done at slow mo speed on the court.
After that we head out for a brisk walk, and would love to say that I walk briskly, but I think I need a bike to keep up with them, however the reward is IF you make this walk in xx mins, then I buy the ice cream at the end. If NOT it’s a turnaround and you buy my icecream. Most of the girls, will jog to the ice cream shop. Luckily we live on the Sunshine Coast and have one of the most picturesque walking/running tracks that would be the envy of any team.
I have to say, that I do enjoy this age group….because of their youth, optimism and love of life and learning. Even better I am not their parent, and know when something is a parent thing, and not a coach thing so very delicately I will move that over to the parents.
I am lucky in that I do have parent support for training and how the team runs, I have definitely seen some not so favourable support from parents but I also think some coaches promise things to their girls that they can’t deliver on the day. I don’t give promises to parents, but I do give expectations, and one of them is….I expect the girls to come to training ready to train AND with a positive attitude.
They may find that an ice cream is at the end of their training session, and it doesn’t include sprints, footwork drills or circuits.
Changing training pace, venue and content is my way of keeping my “girls” motivated.