If you’ve got the time and ability to split up your team at training every now and then, there can be few better ways to spend a session than on some invaluable specialist work.
And if it’s your goalers you choose to focus on, they’ll certainly appreciate the chance to develop and hone some of the key skills they’ll need in order to improve and progress their netball.
Here are four skills that are a great starting point as you look to develop goaler-specific sessions for your team.
First things first – when it comes to goaling, technique is priority number one.
The important thing is to develop an action that’s technically sound, and also that will hold up under pressure, particularly as the player progresses through the ranks and age groups, and the height and reach of their opposition players increases. Some shooting techniques might work well in 15/U, but will they still be as accurate when a tall defender is able to get their hands right over the shot?
BREAKING IT DOWN: HOW TO TEACH GOALING TECHNIQUE
Practice and refine good technique early in the season, and if significant changes are required, wait until a holiday period or significant break in the season to make those changes, to allow the player enough time to practice the new technique before using it in a competitive environment.
And if your goalers aren’t arriving at training 15 minutes early to work on their shooting, they probably should be!
WORKING FRONT POSITION
Before I start teaching my goalers how to hold for the backspace in the circle, I’ll teach them how to work to maintain front position on their defender.
It’s always a little disappointing to see tall, young goalers just plopping themselves near the goal ring and standing behind their defender on the body – it’s a risky pass for the midcourt to make into a small space, and if the defender is just as tall, the goaler has very few options.
DRILL: WORKING FRONT POSITION
So practice your goalers taking up position in front of their defender inside the circle, and moving their feet and body to protect that front space. Then, once the defender begins to try to get around the body and defend the front space, the goaler and feeders will find backspace or side space opening up all over the place.
As your players get older and their opposition improves, maintaining some sort of front position will also limit the opportunities for a goal keeper to leave the circle and attempt to intercept longer passes.
It’s probably the question experienced coaches get asked the most by coaches who are new to the game: how do I get my goalers working together in the circle?!
If you’ve coached a junior team (or a senior team for that matter) you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. With a very limited area in which to work in a goal circle, goalers running into each other’s space is sometimes inevitable, particularly for younger players who tend to be a little bit “see ball, get ball”, and run towards the ball no matter where it is or who’s already in that space.
DRILL: GOALER ROTATION
Working on circle rotation is a good way for goalers of all ages to not only develop an awareness of space in the circle, but also to get them looking for their teammates and assessing their options before making a drive.
Once your players develop that awareness, they’ll be able to make smarter decisions, including knowing when to wait while the other goaler makes a drive, and then driving into the space that’s just been created.
Unless your goaler is Nat Medhurst or Maria Tutaia, chances are they won’t be able to shoot with 80%+ accuracy from long range forever! Again, as defenders grow and improve, it’s unrealistic for goalers to expect to continue to be able to shoot those same long bombs with success.
DRILL: BASIC REFEEDING
The solution is simple: work the ball closer to the post. And the easiest way to do that is with a refeed – i.e. a quick pass back to a midcourter on the edge of the circle, before receiving the ball again after moving slightly closer to the post.
ADVANCED DRILL: DRIVE, SWEED AND REFEED
It’s a skill that takes time and repetition for goalers to become comfortable with and proficient at, so dedicate some time to it each week for a few weeks until your players are using it with confidence. As an added bonus, refeeding practice also helps with teaching your midcourters to maintain a strong position on the circle at all times, just in case a goaler decides they want to pass another ball back out.