By Ray McLean, Leading Teams
I was originally approached by Lisa Alexander, Head Coach of the Australian Diamonds to work with the team to implement a Performance Improvement Program.
I have now been working with the Diamonds for four years and they are a group who have embraced the Leading Teams model as well as any team we have been involved with. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to join the team at their squad camp to continue the great work they’ve achieved so far.
I always come away from the camps knowing I have learned valuable lessons so I thought I’d share some of that experience here.
Preparing to head to Netball Australia’s Centre of Excellence at the AIS in Canberra for the Australian Diamonds’ camp. I always look forward to these camps as I find the Diamonds team one of the most diligent and determined teams in their quest for excellence and their safe guarding of the their status as world’s best.
Afternoon session – the future of netball
There was a presentation to the team and staff regarding the new National Netball League. It strikes me this is a great opportunity for netball but we must ensure that Netball Australia, new clubs, the players association, player managers, and new partners and sponsors adopt a collaborative approach. We must be prepared to learn the lessons from other codes and their expansions and not repeat errors.
It’s always great to see the energy and enthusiasm on display with our players, especially given that most of the players have just played a taxing round in the ANZ Championship the day or two before.
On a personal level, it is nice to wander around pre-training and meet some of the new faces but also to chat with players I have now known for 3-4 years and find out how life is going for them. Getting to know the team and what’s going on with each individual is an important part of the work I do with them.
Evenings usually involve a catch up with staff and Lisa. It’s particularly important for me as it helps me to tailor tomorrow’s session to suit what might have emerged from today.
Strength and conditioning
Whilst players are off to an S&C session I can go and prepare for my session at 11am. It is always a busy schedule but Lisa is really mindful of this; if she thinks a change is needed to help the athletes, it happens. For me, that’s a good sign of a great coach.
My session is focused around a review of the leadership group from the tour of England.
Laura Geitz, the captain, did not go to England as she needed time to rest after a demanding 2015 ANZ Championship and international season. So, after a player vote, a new leadership team and captain were selected. Clare McMeniman, Sharni Layton and Caitlin Bassett were selected as the leadership group and Clare was appointed captain.
The feedback for Clare and the England leadership team was overwhelmingly positive. There was a strong feeling that through the forced absence of Laura, we had been able to add further depth and breadth to our leadership. Laura has now picked up the reigns again and Clare, Sharni and Caitlin remain in the leadership group with her.
Once every year we reassess the leadership group to ensure rigour and accountability in the process.
We held a session with staff to review their trademark and continue some professional development. The staff are well aware that they have a responsibility to the players to live the trademark as well. I know the players appreciate how hard the staff work to mirror their commitment.
Although the delayed flight was a nuisance, it enabled the Melbourne-based staff to enjoy a meal together. And as it turned out, the time spent together was very entertaining and not without a few very loud laughs. The coaches were great in sharing some of their more memorable moments from netball and life.
I find these incidental moments so important. It would have been easy for everyone to find a quiet spot and work but the benefit in just sharing experiences and spending time together builds really strong relationships on the team. This is something that we advocate very strongly for the players. And from my perspective, it also provides me with a genuine sense of belonging to the team.
When I return from a Diamonds camp I always feel as though I am richer for the experience. I run my sessions, hopefully to help and support the team, but I also find myself being rewarded with the inspiration they provide me in return.
Learn more about the Leading Teams program.