What to do as coach when you come up against a rough, aggressive team?

What to do as coach when you come up against a rough, aggressive team?

How do you advise your team as Coach when they come up against a rough and agressive team?  What is the best way to cope with rough play.


Jane WhiteCoach, Australia
Lee-annes NetballCoach, Australia

netball is a contact sport and therefore body contact is inevitible.  however there is a difference between "fair contest" and illegal contact.  the best way i teach my kids to handle normal contact, is to actually be part of the exercise.  i can control my level of contact and the girls get use to feeling bodys close and getting comfortable with close play and the occasional bump.  however to teach kids how to handle unfair play, you once again need to be involved.  they need to stand strong and upright.  hands beside them if they are the defence or attack.  hold their position.  my daughter came across this more in higher level netball, as the game intensifies, and i just tell her to let her player know what she is doing is contact and to keep her arms to herself if she is using them to push off her player, or hold her.  if what is going on is deliberate and dangerous, approach the umpire and ask her to keep an eye on it, and have the umpire speak to the other coach if required.  it simply could by from poor coaching and skill.  but the important thing is not to retailiate or let it affect your teams game.  teach them self control, and assertiveness, and if it comes down to it, stop the game and take your complaints to the association, as you dont wish for your team members to be injured due to poor sportsmanship, and aggressive teams.  

Allie CollyerCoach, Australia

I always tell my teams that they can't control what is happening with what their opposition is doing, rather they can control their own reactions to it.

I think there is a big difference between rough play and aggressive play.

My U13 team last year was shocked to come up against a team that was much more aggressive than all the other teams. They started whinging at 1/4 time etc and I told them that the other team was just hungrier for the ball and were not doing anything against the rules. I then worked at training on getting used to having someone right up against them etc (I bought my daughter out to training who was a couple of years older and very good at body on body and got her to hustle them), also did stuff with pairs where you throw the ball and in pairs they have to compete for the ball. I get them to pretend the ball is a million dollars or their favourite popstar - don't let someone else get their first LOL.

To me rough is stuff that should be picked up by umpires - I tell my girls that if they are getting upset by being pushed etc, then they must work out a way to cope with it. Allowing the players to complain etc is very distracting, I tell them that I don't want to hear it. If it is roughness that is dangerous then the captain (or coach depending on what your association allows) can approach the umpire at breaks to ask a question. If it is bad then a complaint to the association might be warranted.

Jane WhiteCoach, Australia

Thank you so much for your advice and wise words.........there is a fine line between body on body play and rough contact and I agree wholeheartedly that the latter should not be tolerated.  HAving said that sometimes the girls can be quick to complain and you are so right - it is VERY distracting for them and makes them end up playing in a negative way.  I always try to encourage them not to blame anyone else foe their way of playing.  Finding mechanisms for them to copy with good body on body play is essential as they get older and even when an opponent is being rough they need to learn to handle it and deal with it in an appropriate way.  If anyone else has more tips they would be most welcome. 

Thank you %3A-)

Allie CollyerCoach, Australia

Glad we could help. The thing is that the sooner they get used to it, the better off they will be. My daughter was the most non-aggressive player around at U13's so I had to work hard with her to get her to not only not get upset by body on body but use it to her advantage. She is now 15 and plays mostly GK and although she is a very thin kid, she is able to stand her ground against much taller and heavier goalies and in fact loves the challenge of playing on them %3A)

Also if you get someone to come to training to really body them (like I did my daughter) you can make it a bit of fun and not so intimidating. They will learn to cope with it with a player that is from the same club or family etc.

Netball CoachCoach

I know this post is quite old now but I was looking for some tips on how to handle 'rough' play after I experienced it for the first time last night.  I was GD and the GA would constantly run through me with her shoulder, and not even let me walk back to the line without being right on top of me bumping my shoulder time after time.  This really annoyed me and I gave it back for one quarter but then realised you can't beat them at their own game.  I am tall and thin so my best option was to play off her and beat her with skill and speed - I would recommend not letting them decide how the game is going to be played, especially if they feed off that rough contact.  I didn't have a problem for the rest of the game and got a lot more intercepts hanging back and reading the play. 

If it was just body on body that's fine, it can be intimidating when you aren't used to it so I would have to agree with the posts above and expose the team to body contact at trainings. 

Janine DetermesCoach, Australia

Rough Play can and will effect your players especially if they are not used to it. My A1 team experience a very rough game yesterday where my younger ones let it get to them.  Training will be an analysing of this game as we went down and really shouldnt have. We let the rough play get to us. Mental control and focusing on playing your game along with the understanding that if you let your player see she is upsetting you she thinks she's beaten you. Be tough mentally and physically , dont pull out till the whistle goes. At the end of the day the umpire has the call so you either toughen up and play hard or just fold.  Also I would emphasise these girls will not get away with this sort of play come finals time with top umpires.... I would call our game yesterday a "learning experience to toughen up"

Netball CoachCoach

My girl did not let it get to them. They fought hard the whole game. But there is only so much they could take before it physically exhausted them. The umpires were doing their job but they were letting so much off the ball contact go. Our girls are slight and were up against much hevier bodies. I`m wondering if you have any tips on how to play against physical teams. Our girls are very athletic but not strong with body so it was such a hard match up. I feel trying to play of your player works well in centre court but the tussle in the circle for position is a struggle. Would love some tips

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jacqueline wardCoach, Australia

I think coaches that encourage their girls to play rough are commiting a moral wrong to their team, good sportsmanship is important especially if a young player intends to keep going with their sport and play professionally, theres no room for bullys in any sport ever. Agree with above though as much as it upsets me when we play the bully team my girls just have to harden up if we want to take out the finals this season. I will be putting the pressure on at training this week to try to abolish this fear they have of the bully team. At the end of the day what are they really going to do, theres a limit to how far they can take it on court...

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