Their twenty minutes

Having taught for the majority of the day and arriving at my car at 4.40pm, the prospect of getting to practice for 6.30pm was not one I was willing to bet on. I WhatsApp’d the team (is that even a word?) to inform them I would be 20 minutes late and asked them to utilise the time wisely. I didn’t say anymore, again, it was about empowerment, allowing them space to grow and construct their learning together. I didn’t need to hold on to this element of my practice, I was comfortable that they were now fully aware of what we were trying to do. The drive was surprisingly friendly, other than the odd young ‘buck’ who insisted in controlling the M180 with driving reminiscent of a drunken sailor!! I arrived 18 minutes late and was confronted with practice. The players were moving, talking and smiling. I smiled too, stood to the side and watched them coach.

As they concluded their warm up a number of players greeted me and checked on my welfare. Funny, allowing players to be themselves actually brought their very best selfs to the front stage. I joined them, thanked them for their professionalism, congratulated them on a good start to the practice and then set about explaining what I wanted us to do. In doing so, I was presented with a number of questions, which I happily responded to, questions led to learning for me and I actively encouraged and applauded those that showed confidence in their willingness to challenge me.

As we got to the end I attempted to insert a number of difficult concepts, the structure and delivery wasn’t great and assumed a great deal of prior knowledge and ability. The net result was less than productive, I had to take responsibility for the lack of learning and accept that my planning was poor. We moved on to our final examination of our Game Model. It wasn’t a great way to finish practice, our movement was clumsy, we demonstrated poor decision making and were were unable to get a ‘good look’. I wasn’t sure if the previous unit had infiltrated the final element of our practice or if the players were merely defeated after the confusion of the last drill. Either way, I became frustrated at the our sudden lack of focus and our inability to execute. Time was up, the polite smiles from the centre staff as they quickly moved about transitioning from our world to that of netball suggested that we had to vacate the hard wood at speed. I unleashed a ‘must do better’ monologue that included a sting worthy of a great creature. Not how I wanted to finish!

As we gathered our belongings I moved through the players and parents in an attempt to get them back on side. I smiled, laughed and even attempted a few jokes. I was surprised to learn that they were far more resilient than I gave them credit for. They smiled back, thanked me for practice, shook my hand and bid me farewell. As I walked to my car I began to gather my thoughts, one of which was – “there must be a better way”.

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