A few weeks ago we shared with you what happens pre-season in terms of the selection process for the new season. Yesterday the ladies coaches and captains met to agree their team selections in preparation for the start of the season next weekend. (The Mens' section will be meeting on Tuesday to do the same).
I caught up with Chris Simcock, Head of Coaching and Performance, to ask how it all went.
Q: Chris, We spoke the other week about the process of selection, but what’s the reality of what’s been happening over the last few weeks?
A: As we talked about in our last article coaches and captains have used the pre-season weeks to give players as many opportunities as possible to train and play. It has been really good to see many players taking the chance to stretch themselves in teams that last year they may have thought were a stretch too far for them, but that is what pre-season is all about. It's given us the time to see where everyone is today in terms of fitness, skill and commitment
Q: How did you make the final decisions?
A: Firstly I want to pick you up on your choice of the word “ Final” . Yes, yesterday’s selection decisions for the Ladies teams were about making the decision on how we start the season, they were also about aligning as coaches on the progression we think we will see in players as we go through the season. We know that people, and especially juniors, develop at different rates therefore it's important for us to discuss how we see teams might flex and change through the season as individuals continue to develop.
Q: How does that “flex” show up in practice…. and on Teamo!
A: As I mentioned earlier we know all players continuously develop as we go through the season, some players will show today the skill, fitness and mental maturity that places them at the core of a specific team. Others will be at a development level that places them at the upper end of the skill, fitness and mental maturity of one team, and the lower end of the next team. The selection process has assigned every player to a specific team and identified which players are “ core” and which players are “developing”. Coaches and Captains will be talking with players throughout the season about their progress. As a result some players will see Teamo selection show them as part of one team whilst others will be included in two teams. Make sure you have your Teamo app updated and notifications turned on so that you get any communications as they come through.
Q: That sounds clear but could some people feel that they don’t actually belong to any team because they keep moving between teams?
A: One of our club values is TeamWork and within that the recognition that we play for the club, not just for a team. All of our training sessions have two teams training at the same time. This is purposeful in order to help players get to know one other both from a playing perspective as well as a social perspective, and to support our aim to stretch and support players to develop through the season. The other reality is that the weekly team selection for match days is very dependent on player availability. Therefore if through injury or unavailability the Ladies 1s have 4 players missing one week that creates a domino effect all the way through the remaining teams. To minimise the impact this can have, we are asking all players to confirm their availability on Teamo by Sunday night as Coaches will make their draft selections for the weekend games on Monday. This will also ensure that players can train in the team that they will be playing with on the Saturday.
Q: Going in to the first game of the season, what are you most excited about?
A: Obviously I am really excited by the fact that we are actually getting out to play and it looks as if we should get a full season of games this year. I’m also excited by the progress we’ve made as a club in the way we support the development and success of every player. We have a clearly defined set of playing principles and a skills development pathway that all coaches and captains have had input into. These are being used to underpin our coaching throughout the club from our U8s all the way through to our Mens and Ladies first teams. They mean that we can have very honest and transparent conversations with any player (and parent) who wants to know where they need to focus their development, and it ensures a consistency throughout the club that will help us have the very best of seasons as a club.