We read some interesting comments on a social media post last week, in which a number of netball coaches were discussing ‘game sense’ activities.
Their suggestion was that netball organisations are promoting ‘game sense’ activities as something that should replace skill-based drills as the key pillar of any netball coaching program.
It’s an interesting idea and discussion point. So here’s some food for thought.
On the weekend we spent half a day with a state-based regional academy program, working with up and coming 15- and 16-year-old players.
400+ VIDEOS: CHECK OUT OUR FULL DRILL LIBRARY
And one of the biggest takeaways from the day, for us as coaches, was the lack of consistent skill execution.
Some players could execute skills well most of the time, but not all the time. Others were executing skills successfully less half of the time, whether it was good shoulder pass technique, accurate passes out in front of a driving player, or the ability to land with control and deliver the next pass quickly.
Put a defender’s hands over the pass and the skills fell away further.
Which begs the question: what value is ‘game sense’ if players can’t execute basic skills within that ‘game’? If your players can read the game and space beautifully, but can only deliver an accurate pass over hands 20% of the time, what’s the point of having that understanding of the game?
You can have all the game sense in the world, but game sense with poor skills isn’t going to put the goals on the board.
It takes 10,000 repetitions to change a habit (or so the saying goes) and a similarly large number of repetitions to be able to effectively perform a new skill. And that’s why we spend so much time drilling and drilling and drilling the basics.
Get the technique/competence right, practice it until it’s second-nature, use/create drills that target it, slowly increase the pressure, THEN employ it in a game situation.
The younger the players, the more important it is to get those fundamentals right.
A GOOD RULE OF THUMB
That said, there IS certainly room for ‘game sense’-type activities as part of your training sessions, and they do have value, but not as the underpinning element of every session.
Generally we’ll finish a session with some sort of game-like activity, but almost always try to make it something that develops or complements the skills we’ve worked on throughout that session.
As an easy guide, try planning out your sessions so they’re 25% warmup/fitness/footwork, 50% skill development, and 25% game sense.
Let us know how you go!