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How do we teach our team that we are friends but coaches too?

Because my co-coach and I are only 15/16 years old, we are only a few years older than the girls we coach (who are 11-12). This is useful in our ability to relate, but is not when we are trying to be serious and get a point across. We tend to joke around a bit at training in order to make them as enjoyable as possible, but as soon as we try to be serious, the girls assume we are telling them off and sometimes get upset. We have already had parent issues in relation to positions, so we do not want anymore complaints from the parents or girls. If anyone has advice it would be much appreciated, thanks.

great work at stepping up and coaching at such a young age.  it isnt easy hey?  being a good coach is actually a very tough thing to do, as you have to come up with lots of fun and challenging lessons for the girls to enjoy and learn from, as well as deal with frienship issues, home issues, hormonal issues, as well as deal with parents.  this all has to be done in a very dipomatic way.  however, being so young yourselves, most parents will think they can walk over you, and get what THEY think is best for just THEIR child.  you have to think of them all. so if a parent comes to you with a positional complaint, dont take it personally, but thank them for their suggestion, but let them know that you have a plan for the team, and sometimes not everyone gets to play where they like the most.  thats your choice.  if you keep getting issues from a particular parent then refer them to the club/schools representative.  you do not have to take abuse or insult from anyone.  just always be pleasant, and thankful, but you dont have to take their advise on board.  this YOUR team while YOU coach it.

as for the girls, you have to always remind yourself that you are their coach, not one of their mates or friends.  the lessons you plan should have fun aspects, and other times be very focussed, but dont ever drop down and let the girls dictate to you what they want and how they want it.  always stay in control of the team.  if they take your serious tone as to them being told off (and they there might be times that they have been mucking up so a stronger tone might be necessary) but give them choices, the fun drill, or the not so fun drill.  if you stay focussed we will do this drill, but if you keep mucking around, then we are going to do this lots of running drill.  the choice is theres.  make the team as a whole responsible for the behaviour, and if one or two keep mucking up then send the team for a run. 

hope that helps.

I think Lee-anne has given you some great suggestions.  Coaching isn't an easy job but it also shouldn't be hard or unpleasant for you.  

I think you'll find many coaches could tell a similar story in regard to personalities within the team and it is a trick learning how to keep the loud one a bit contained, keeping the funny one focused and pumping the quiet one up.  

They may need to be reminded gently at the start of a training session what your goals are for the season and what you expect of them.  If you need an older member of your club to have that chat, then ask for help from them and I'm sure they'd happily back you up.  I do want my team to have fun at training, and that may come in the form of a fun game or a couple of minutes of chat time, but I do ask that when its time to get back on task, they all get their heads back on the job.

For what its worth I've got a group of 14-16 year olds this year and find that if I'm trying to explain a drill and someone is chatting the most effective thing I can do is get them to help demonstrate the drill to the team so that they're forced to be focused on what I'm saying. My other tactic is to pair or group them up in productive groups when doing drills so that they're not as likely to get caught up chatting.  

Don't let the parents put you off your game and again, ask for help from your club if you are feeling intimidated.  Parents should know better.  Hope some of that helps.

Another tIp is to use your manager here to run interference. If it's a parent of the team they can gently remind parents to support the coaches, let them do their job, and congratulate you both on taking on the coaching role. Ask the manager for support with this if necessary. Most are parents of a player and don't mind supporting new coaches with these sorts of things.

Hi Olivia

I had a Coaches Post Season Evaluation from NZ Coachforce and one of the questions was

"How would your players describe you as a coach?"

To be honest their evaluation of my coaching was "lovely, too nice but fair and honset".

Feedback from NZ Coachforce "There is an article from  - the Harvard Business Review 2013 called “Is it better to be loved or feared?” It says “A growing body of research suggests that the way to influence – and to lead - is to begin with warmth. Warmth is a conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and the communication and absorption of ideas. Even a few small non-verbal signs – a nod a smile, an open gesture –can show people that you’re pleased to be on their company and attentive to their concerns. Prioritizing warmth helps you connect immediately with those around you, demonstrating that you hear them, understand them, and can be trusted by them.” 

For my age group (U15s Development) this was important so to have the warmth that I have towards my players was an advantage.  Add this with confidence, knowledge of skills and the netball side of coaching then it would be all upwards from there.

I understand totally where you're coming from but you are never going to make everyone happy, sad but true :) Just be true to yourself and the team, a few things to be mindful of two way communication, consistency, supportive, fun, fairness, player feedback and performance review.

Good to know there are other New Zealanders using this site, good luck next netball season :)

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  • search our library of 700+ netball drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans