Running a netball trial or selection day might seem like a relatively straightforward job.
Players register and turn up on the day, you put them on court and select them.
Pretty simple? Perhaps, but having attended dozens of netball trials over the years at many different clubs, it’s very clear that all trials are not created equal.
How often have you arrived at a trial as a player and/or parent, had your name ticked off, warmed up, waited for your rounds on court and then left immediately afterwards, with a quick word to the players from a coach or selector the only meaningful interaction throughout the entire event?
What an enormous missed opportunity for the club to put itself forward and ‘sell’ the positive aspects of its playing and coaching program, and leave attendees with a good sense of what the club is all about.
The best netball trials we’ve been to are those where the club sets aside time to actively engage the players and parents in attendance and show them a bit about the club and program they’re trialing for. More about that later.
While many clubs will always have a steady stream of players ready to don their colours every year, increasingly players are selective about where they choose to go, and particularly once they reach representative level or higher.
You’re competing for the hearts and minds of those players and their parents, and so giving them an insight into life at your club and ‘selling’ them on your club experience can be invaluable in convincing them that this is the right place for them.
Here are a few things to consider as your next netball trials approach.
ARE YOUR TRIALS ORGANISED?
Is there anything worse than players arriving at a trial and not being sure where to go, what to do or who they should ask? Is there a huge amount of downtime between rounds because the game sheets aren’t ready?
The trials experience starts from the moment the player gets out of their car, so as a club ensure you have enough helpers to direct players where they need to go, and enough assistance to ensure players can be processed quickly and smoothly as they arrive.
Have someone putting the players through a warmup at the advertised start time, and someone else to put the bibs out on court the moment the warmup is finished.
To avoid the biggest trials time-waster, have your trial rounds ready to go so that players aren’t kept waiting and you can get through as many rounds as possible within the allotted time.
WHAT’S THE CLUB ABOUT?
A club at which I used to select set the benchmark for showcasing itself in the best possible light to players who attended its trials.
I know for a fact that many players and parents who were deciding between multiple clubs ended up choosing that club on the strength of what they were shown on trial day.
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And that centred around presentations that were made to every age group, from 11/under right up to State League level.
After players signed in, they (and their parents) were directed to another room/space where the committee and/or coaches made a 15-minute visual presentation about the club, its history, selection process, training program and coaching staff, and allowed attendees to ask any questions.
Is it extra effort putting those materials together? Of course, but they can be re-used in subsequent years and across multiple trials. And if a handful of players from each trial or age group choose your club over another because they liked what was presented to them, you can’t put a price on that.
A happy byproduct of having a presentation is the ability to begin to filter the club’s expectations through the player and parent group long before the first training sessions and games.
Why wait until you’ve chosen the teams to share your expectations/rules with players around training attendance, on and off-court behaviour and other club policies?
Introduce them at trials and there can be no excuse that a player did not know what they were signing up for or what was required of them, and you’ll have far fewer issues down the track.
LEAVE ON A GOOD NOTE
Take the opportunity to leave one last impression on the players by speaking to them as a group and thanking them at the conclusion of trials.
It’s a good chance to remind the players of the selection process and when they’ll be notified, as well as informing them if the club is providing any feedback to players who are unsuccessful.
Inviting players to approach the coaches/selectors afterwards if they have any questions is also a good idea – your club administrator will thank you when they’re not wading through a deluge of emails asking those questions the following day.
All the best for your trials!