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How to teach my U13 girls to overcome the second half blues?

My U13 Girls play really well in the first half but drop of badly in the second half - this has caused us too many draws.

How do I get consistency for the whole game?

Glenn, the key emphasis here is probably over concentration on the result of the match and insufficient emphasis on the PROCESS of playing well. In discussion with your team, try and arrive at the key factors that indicate your team are playing well.

To pick a few Aussie style ones: When we play well we:-

  1. Pass and support and get ahead of the ball
  2. Someone fills the hole left by the passer
  3. Get three round the goalkeeper on any shot at goal
  4. Look to seek out space behind the opposition midfield

I'm sure you can add plenty more.

It is critical for you to emphasise these objectives (maximum three) before any match. At half time and in the post match de-brief. Retain the focus on the playing objective.

If you hit all your targets and lose you have still played well. This takes the pressure off the players as they know how they can succeed. It tends to keep them in the here and now.

Be positive in your half time talk AND if the tempo starts to drop after half time use substitutes to maintain the rhythm and tempo of the first half

my netball team has the opposite problem...slow to start but finishes strong.  as already pointed out, concentrate on the process and the skills that you need to keep up the good playing.  never the result.  we have 2 coaches in my daughters team, and my other coach once told the girls that we were playing a really easy team that we should slaughter (again).  the attitude the girls went into this game was that they had already won before they even took the court.  needless ot say we lost.  so keep the girls focussed on keeping on their players, and keeping a strong defence and attack.  the result should never be told to them until the end of the game anyway.  i always tell my girls that its really close and that they need to keep working hard if they want to beat the team.

Are they fit/strong enough to play the second half?  In my experience this is usually the cause of performing a weak second half.  If some players are not fit enough, the others have to work harder to correct the mistakes and to support those players, which further degrades the performance of the whole team: more physical and mental stress.

Test fitness with an interval based test (shuttle test for example) and if not enough introduce interval fitness training.  Your test will also indicate which players are the most fittest and that you can use in your rotation roster for the substitutes.  Substitute players based on their fitness level and start already in first half.

If fitness is not the problem, look at pressure, mentality, ... as suggested in some of the answers above.

What I normally do is that I tell my team to play the second half as though there is no score, just to keep their game going mentally. What I found is that they would start playing half heartedly once they had scored two goals. Most of the time they manage to score more goals in the second half. 

I totally discourage individual play, though with boys I find this can be quite a challenge.

Bribery also works. Sweets work no matter how old you are...but hey that is just me. 

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