Team Selection Processes

Friday, May 27, 2016

Written By Matthew Embling

As a coach you are confronted with many decisions to make on a weekly basis.  After each game you will need to decide your weekly plan and the key areas you would like to work on to improve.

The most important decision is the selection of your team for your next game. I have developed some guidelines that can help you and your coaching group with the selection processes.

  1. 1. Have an independent chairman of selectors (non-coach) who can facilitate the discussions between the various coaches in an orderly manner.
  2. Set the expectation that individual players will always advise the coaching group when they are unavailable for an upcoming game (e.g. family wedding).
  3. Gather a detailed report from your head trainer or medical team on the status of injured players and potential availability. If players are going to be unavailable for the next game due to injury, find out when they will be likely to be available. This will enable you to effectively plan for following weeks’ selections. It is always beneficial to have the injury status of players noted somewhere within the change rooms. So that everyone is clear of the status on the player.
  4. Create a guidelines document for players pushing for selection in the next level up. This could be a player named in the best three times in a row, or certain possession targets in a game. Socialise this information with everyone in your club from the committee/board to the players, so there is no miscommunication in this regard.  Note:  This is a guidelines document, so you can use a level of flexibility when confronted with specific circumstances which may arise (make sure everything is well explained in these cases).
  5. Talk to certain players at training and mention that they are close to selection at the next level. Give them specific feedback about areas you would like them to excel.
  6. In the match committee meeting, each lower level coach should submit a minimum of five players for selection at the next level, to create robust discussion for different combinations of players who may take the field in the next game. This should happen regardless of whether the team won or lost the previous games.

Finally, communication is the key to selecting teams. Aim to talk (face to face or phone) to each player who has been omitted from the team as soon as possible. These conversations can be challenging so it is paramount that you prepare and provide valid explanations as to why the player wasn’t selected in the team. Be honest and transparent with the player. They may not like it but they will learn to respect your decision. Avoid sending out SMS messages if you can as this can grate on some players. Always provide means and methods for the player to put themselves back into the selection frame for the next game, then touch base with them and their coach post game and see how they went in their targeted areas.

I hope this helps you and your coaching group with the challenges that you can confront in team selection.

Matt Embling is an assistant coach at Sandringham Football Club. He is an AFL accredited High Performance Coach.

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