Hi girls, well played on Saturday - it was a game which I didn't think we should have lost by as many as we did but they adapted to our game quite well and while we made a few improvements in some ways, we just couldn't keep up with their goals dropping in.
Positives from the game:
- Feeding the circle: I think we started the game strongly and fed the circle well although their giant GK did make some good interceptions. In the first quarter and the final two quarters I think our feeding of the circle was good but I think they decided on a plan of how to play Emma at GS and Sharon at GA and so that's why I thought it was worth swapping them over. After that change in the third quarter I think the feeding was better again and we were getting the ball into the circle more easily.
- Defence: I thought we marked quite tight all the way down the court and we got some rebounds in the circle and made a few interceptions which is good.
- Strength in depth: I thought both Natalie and Vicky were excellent for us. I wondered initially whether Natalie, potentially still carrying a niggle in her quads and playing centre in the division above would be ok but I thought she demonstrated she's come on well in the Es this season and I thought Vicky, playing in a less familiar position made lots of interceptions and had an aggressive, competitiveness to her which the team in general seemed to lack a little.
To improve on:
- Snatching balls: Maybe it was because it was the first game after a few weeks but there were a lot of spilled balls and clumsy hands in this match. I also think that part of it is...
- Warming up: I arrived 25 minutes before the game (at the same time as Jayne). I think pretty much everyone else was there. And yet the warming didn't get started until Julie Hall started chivvying people along after another 10 minutes or so. I am not going to do that job - if you don't want to warm up, don't. I'm not going to play the teacher role - I have enough of that when I'm in the classroom and teams, this year, all know, that they should have a full warm up routine.
- Shooting: Tricky one this - while the feeding was good and we got the ball into the circle well in three of the four quarters, we scored very few goals. This may have been because Emma was expending energy running around more although Sharon's shooting also deteriorated. I don't think it was to do with warming up because (a) I saw them both warming up before the match and (b) they shot pretty ok in the first half of the game. I think we'd just have to chalk it up as one of those days.
- Timing: Disappointingly, one thing which I think you guys have done noticeably well this season is holding your players and then driving forward at the right time to receive a pass but in this game it felt like you were (a) not going and finding your players as well and (b) driving too early quite a lot. Emma, related to this - I still think you can stand and hold your GK more in the circle and just stick your hand up - I'm pretty sure you don't think there's space in behind when there is and if you put your hand up, even with a giant GK who jumps for rebounds, if you put your hand up then the feeders will thrown the ball higher and if you hold her for longer instead of the natural instinct to move and catch the ball, she'll contact you. I really think you need to try and work on knowing where your space is and protecting it because when you initially take up your position it's almost always the position and you've got the space in behind, you just don't seem to think you have the space there.
- Passing: I'm afraid there were times during the game where the passes were just woeful and weak and nowhere near the sort of height that people should be receiving the ball at. Far too many passes landed near people's feet. I reckon this is just another thing which comes back to warming up. We should be doing some dynamic stretches, some catching in pairs - one worker, one feeder, passing in pairs increasing the distance, perhaps some balls thrown up for two people compete for (e.g. Jayne and Hannah or Emma and Sharon - i.e. replicating a rebounding situation) to get the 'snatching balls in', some cut the cake for driving onto the pass and then some halfcourt.
Sorry to sound so critical - I don't think that we would necessarily have won if we'd done a warm up or passed better but I do think we were good enough to be within five and the disappointing thing about what I've said is that I think we've shown that we're able to do most of those things in other games so it feels like it was our own undoing rather than them forcing us to lose.
Of course, we were also missing Clare and that probably made the difference of a few goals as well.
Emma, you ought to try and assess for yourself whether the shooting in the third/fourth quarter was down to tiredness from running about at GA or not taking the full three seconds and being composed, or just an off-day or something else because you're almost certainly in a better position to answer that than me or anyone else and that information would be very helpful if the situation arises again where swapping might be worth a go. As I said earlier, it felt like feeding the circle became easier - I think Sharon held the GK well and strongly and you got away from the GD well but if it comes at the price of shooting less well then there's a balancing act to play.
Julie, I think I said to you at the end but it's worth considering for future games anyway that I felt you were too deep at things like backlines etc. It's important for the centre to conserve energy and so getting up the court earlier and being available for the second/third pass should allow you to cover less of the court and it helps prevent 'congestion' in defence and then a drawn out attack. Obviously, hopefully, Clare will be centre most of the time anyway so it shouldn't be an issue and you probably had WD in your head partially anyway.
Natalie & Vicky, thanks a lot for playing for us.
I'm not around for the next few weeks as I'm on holiday but please get to your game 30 minutes before it's due to start and get warmed up properly so that balls get snatched in and passes are strong and accurate on Saturday. You've got a tough game against the league leaders but last time we only lost by 9 so let's aim to be within 5 this time around. I'll be looking out for the result in my emails....
Good luck for the next few weeks,
See you for your last match of the season,