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Published: 24th Feb 2009

Here are some ideas for your coaches and teams on competition day preparation and how to communicate with parents. Please pass this onto any coaches who may get some benefit at all levels. If you have any ideas or feedback, it would be great to hear from you.

1. Competition Day

Being well organised for games will increase the chances of your team performing to their potential. Establishing a game-routine can give players security and stability and help them feel more comfortable about being in a competitive situation.

  • Arrive on time before the game in Team uniform, and have a pre-game routine focussing on team processes and objectives.
  • Give your Captain some warm-up responsibilities- this builds leadership.
  • Advise who will be starting the game, and how subs will work.
  • Your philosophy might be that you start with your best team, and sub two or three at a time so you still maintain some strength in the water. Depending on the score, you might just want to give everyone even pool time as your team is developing, so have a balance of weak and strong players and can use a six player rotation. If you have a close game and your aim is winning, some subs may not get to play too much and have other opportunities in other games. You may just specialise sub your centre forwards/ backs/ drivers, for instance. Whatever you do must be explained and agreed by the team, so there are no surprises or upsets.)
  • Check that equipment required is ready to go (caps, balls, first aid kit etc)
  • Be positive and encourage all your athletes to feel good about themselves, confident, support their team mates, and feel like they belong and are part of a great team environment.

  • Encourage your athletes, but let them play their own game.
  • Coach the future, don?t dwell too much on the past.
  • Make simple tactical changes which have been practised.
  • Remain calm and demonstrate self-control.
  • Make sure drinks are available as required.
  • Provide positive feedback during quarter and half time breaks ? give them only one or two key points to focus on. Always start and finish with something positive.

  • See that the opposing team, officials and other helpers are thanked after the game. Shake hands.
  • Have a quick team talk to ensure the players know when/where the next training will take place.
  • Note down a few pointers to work on at the next training from your game revue.
  • Discuss game with other coaches/ observers to get their perspective on what to work on or what went well.
  • Being and acting professional will ensure everyone has a great time and that your team is improving.

2. Communicating With Athletes? Parents and Caregivers

Parents and caregivers can have a big impact on how athletes feel about water polo. They can provide a source of either support or stress, particularly for younger athletes.

It is important to establish a positive relationship with parents and caregivers right from the start of the season. A good way to start is by writing a letter, or holding a meeting to introduce yourself and discuss the season ahead:

  • Emphasise the importance of fun, learning new skills and making new friends. Performing to their potential is more important than winning or losing.
  • Discuss the role of parents and caregivers in your team. Stress the importance of supporting and encouraging the athletes.
  • Discuss the principles of fair play and your expectations of supporters? behaviour at games.
  • Talk about your plans for the season, what athletes will need, and how parents and caregivers can assist.

Parents, caregivers and other supporters can sometimes get carried away during games. Be sure to always set a positive example as the coach, and let the supporters know you expect only positive support towards game officials, players and coaching team, from them.

Good Luck with your games- remember it?s a great idea to discuss your team?s play with other coaches and referees to get feedback on how you can improve their performance!!

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