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Keeping girls motivated when losing every game in comp

Hi, I'm co-coaching an U13 team. The players are a mix of experienced, but mostly inexperienced players, with a couple of players who are really talented (these are two of our inexperienced players). All players are new to each other. The girls won every game at the district grading days and we were upgraded two levels. We are now in round 6 of the competition and the girls have lost every game and we just lost from the team that was below them on the ladder. We've had a couple of injuries and one was quite bad in round 4 requiring surgery which has shaken the girls as well. They are starting to lose heart and their game is deteriorating. How do we keep them motivated?

Hi, I forgot to say that for both of us this is our very first coaching experience. I have been thinking what we could do and would dearly love your feedback on the following course of action.

At our next training I thought we could all begin with a talk about how we feel about our losses (I know they are disappointed and frustrated). Give them a short time to vent. Then say something like:

“We came into this grade as an inexperienced, new team and we are playing against very experienced teams. It was and will continue to be very challenging. So, we will focus not on winning or losing, but on improvement, improving individual skills, playing our best defensive and attacking game, improving how we work as a team and contribute to the team, and never, ever give up." Then I thought to bring in a lot of fun elements in the training to make sure they keep enjoying the game.

These are just my initial thoughts and I would love to get your feedback based on your experiences, especially on how to put this into practice. Thanks in advance!

 

I think your plan is excellent! Sometimes players can feel like failures if they keep losing but the reasons aren't addressed.  Focussing on improving one or two things at a time is a good start.

I had a team where we were losing badly each week and it seemed overwhelming when I knew just how much work needed to be done. I decided that each week we would focus on a different skill - footwork, 3 feet, shadowing etc and then asked them to concentrate on that in the match. No matter the result I could say - well done there were only 2 stepping calls today etc.

I got some fun warmups from this site and others to start our training and I also had a fun shooting game at the end of each training and the winner got to put their name on one of my mine cone - same age group as yours but they all wanted a cone named after them LOL. I had a few different games and they really looked forward to them.

Get them to focus on the skills and not the scoreboard. I think also talking to the parents or sending a note home with lots of positives is a good idea too.

Good luck :)

Much appreciate your feedback, Allie! I'll talk to my co-coach about having a fun start up game and focussing on improving one skill at a time. I hear what you say about overwhelming!! So much to think about! thanks again I think I'll introduce a team motto - Have Fun and Never Give Up :-) Love the idea of naming the cones :-)

hey ally love the cone naming too.  unfortunately we share all our equipment.

your plan sounds fine.  try not to concentrate on the result, but on their achievements in their other improvements.  it is always tough when you go from winning against lower graded teams to actually having to compete and play hard to even get a few goals.  but you should be watching what the other teams are doing and look at where your girls can focus and improve.  they would not have been put in that division if the organises didnt feel that they were competitive.  so now to remind them to play their own game, get them to even come up with their goal for the game, and name the game like Game of Throws (so they are working on strong flat passes), or the Interceptor, and the likes.  make a fun way of naming the games and what they wish to achieve in that game.

hope that helps and hope that they keep pushing themselves, for they will improve a lot more losing in this division than winning in the other.

Lee-anne, I bought my own tiny cones from ebay - they were about $10 for 20 of them. Only about 1/2 the size of a water bottle but they are great for when I am only training one team at a time.

Thank you all! you gave me some great tips and things to think about and integrate into our training. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions :-)

Hi, I've had the same problem this season.

I had a baby just before the end of grading, and missed the first 4 rounds of competition play.  My Captain was trying her best, but the team was serevely lacking leadership, and a firm hand for the "bossy negative" players.

My players got so down, they were abusing themselves, and each other on court, at trainings and all the times in between...  So I banned any negative comments, whether they were about another player or themselves, to anyone but me (under the threat of being removed from game time, if I heard it - I've got 10 players, so I could if I needed too).  I start every session, training or game, with a "Positive Statements" session.  I asked everyone team member to comment of something they felt the team did well, at either the last training, or during the game.  Then I ask the speaker to something positive about another player in the team (that I name).

I also had a word to my senior more experience players, about setting a better example on court, and during trainings

This has lifted the morale of my entire team.  They are playing beautifully now, and focus more on what works/worked well, and shake off any little errors or turnovers.  If the seniors helping the less experienced keep their head ups and keep going.

To help set the positive mood, and lift confidence before taking the court (they won't play well, if they feel stink about themselves).  I changed our pre-game warm up, I've dropped the more complex drills (like 4 corners, truck and trailer, etc).  For a Warm Up, they take passes in pairs, and they the good old fashioned "Ins and Outs" and a little "Follow your pass" two line passing.  This way no one starts feeling bad, because they passed the ball to the wrong person, or ran in the wrong direction, or didn't pass/recieve cleanly.

Going back to basic's is always a good idea.  I'm coaching adults, and we've gone back to basic's...  Again, to help with my players confidence.

Hope your girls get a win, and start to enjoy the game again.

Mine are enjoying themselves again, and I know the win will follow as their attitudes continue to improve.

 

thanks for sharing your experience Wendy!! I like the idea of chaning the pre-game warm up to something more simple. thanks again.

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  • or access our tried and tested plans