Full disclosure: we love set plays.
There’s nothing better than a well-executed setup on a centre pass that leads to a quick and easy goal, or a defensive throw-in that flows into a smooth transition all the way down the court.
Like many coaching strategies, however, they’re not for everyone. There are coaches, even at the elite level, who prefer not to have rigid structures, and instead employ more general rules, such as wing attack always dictating/taking the first drive and goal attack reading off their movement.
And that’s fine, as long as players are aware of who is expected to drive for certain balls, or who has responsibility for moving the ball in particular situations. If they don’t (and we’ve all seen it!) you’ll end up with no one driving for the ball (or everyone driving for the ball) and you’ll lose the edge that your centre passes or throw-ins should provide you.
Here are a couple of reasons why a clear set of plays to be used across a whole club can be a great idea.
EASY MOVEMENT BETWEEN TEAMS
Does your club have particular set plays it teaches to all its players?
What happens when players are called up to fill-in for a higher team, or they finish their season and start the following year in a new age group?
Some clubs have many, many teams (20 or more in many cases), and it’s inevitable that there will often be a few players absent, forcing teams to pull players up from lower teams.
It’s infinitely easier for a player to slot into a higher team if they know and have practised the set plays the team will be using, which in turn makes it easier for the other players around them to adjust to their new team member and reduces the impact on the team’s performance.
Structures can be modified for younger teams, of course, but the sooner you’re able to introduce your club’s structures and philosophies into their netball, the better.
NO WASTED WEEKS
How many weeks do you usually spend at the start of the year teaching your players the same set of skills and structures that you taught to the group you coaches the previous year?
Two weeks? Four? A whole season of revisiting those same structures as players forget them?
If players have structures that they’ve learned in previous season, you’ll spend much less time rehashing the same sessions every 12 months, and can get on with developing other parts of your players’ games.
TAKING IT FURTHER
Do your club’s players finish their year with all of the skills they’ll need to move up a team or age group the following year?
Having a list of skills and drills that you expect players at your club to master at each age level is a good way to ensure you’re covering everything you need to throughout the year and it also helps to determine which players are ready to step up the following season, and which players need further development in certain areas.
Getting all coaches together at the start of the season to discuss the structures, skills and drills that their players are expected to know and develop throughout the season can really help to put everyone on the same page and ensure every player receives the right level of netball education and development.