The National Schools Cup is fast approaching with teams having one or maybe two training left until they hit the big stage. As a coach what should you be working on to ensure that your team plays to its potential in a weeks’ time? Changing a player’s technique or implementing a new game strategy would be nearly impossible in this short period of time, so what can a coach focus on this week to get the maximum benefit from their team? 

* Repetitions – Controlled passing and setting repetitions for your players is a great way to get plenty of touches of the ball without causing stress on the body. Ensuring that players are focused and completing the correct technique is essential to get the maximum benefit. I found in my final year as a libero in 2012 that packing hundreds of repetitions into the last few days before I left for the Nationals really boosted confidence and trust in my own game and skills.  

* Serve receive – An aspect of the game that won’t cause your players a large amount of stress on their bodies. You can get a lot of improvement through working on basic communication between players and ensuring that your team is clear on passing rules/seams that you have created during the year. 

* Game protocol – It’s a good chance to run through an official warm up that your players will complete before a game whilst away. Include what your team would do before the on court warm up as well as the time allocated on court. Call captains, practice signing the score sheet and run an official warm up to get players used to what they will be doing in a weeks’ time. 

* Fun! The players are excited and are itching to get over to Melbourne and play so it’s crucial that the training is full of enthusiasm, laughs and fun before you head off on your journey. Playing some fun games to break up training is a great way to give the team a mental break especially if you’re doing a lot of repetition work. Creating a fun environment this week will build a great feeling within the group as well as helping to get the maximum potential out of your players going into the week competition. 

Getting your players to do penalties and intense physical work isn’t ideal as it can potentially crush enthusiasm within the team or cause an injury. Building confidence in your playing group is the biggest tool you have this week before you leave. Trust in your game strategies and what you have worked on all year, add confidence to the playing group with the belief of success and you have the ingredients for a great week away.

Great suggestions! Thanks Peter Giannes – (Junior and State league coach, Heathfield Honours coach, Aus Junior coach)