How do coaches pick their teams
The coaches who are selected to coach provincial and national water polo teams, have a tough job when it comes to selecting the best players. Ryan Weideman who is a highly recognised coach with a long list of coaching credentials
reveals some of the secrets to selecting a team based on his selection of the 2014 Ladies Western Province team who won the Currie Cup Tournament in Durban this year though the Q&A below.
His credentials read like this:
· Assistant SA Ladies Coach – Barcelona 2013
· SA U20 Ladies – Trieste 2012
· SA U18 Boys – Perth 2011
· SA U18 Ladies – Khanty Mansiysk 2010
· WP Mens B Team – 2012
· WP U19 A Girls Team – 2012
· Silvertree Senior Ladies – 2012/2013
Q: What were you looking for when selecting your Western Province ladies team?
RW: When I was selecting the Western Province Ladies team, I took the following into consideration in finalising me decision:
1. I looked at players skills, ability, fitness levels and past performances. All this information would allow me to have a better idea of what they would be able to produce at the tournament and if they would be able to implement the structures I wanted to use. It was important that I knew what direction I wanted to take with the team, before the trials and so that I had a good idea of what type of players I would be looking for. This meant that some players would not be selected, as I did not see them being able to manage what I had I mind. Western Province is blessed with many talented players and often players do not get selected because we have 2 months with the team to prepare for the tournament. This does not leave us with a lot of time to work with players and I often have to select the players who would be best suit for my style of coaching, rather than having the time to mould any player to fit in to what I would like them to do.
2. I wanted a well balanced team, so that we could have a strong offensive and defensive game plan. I often look for what I call “two way player” as these players do not have many weakness in their playing ability and the players around them, can rely on them. Certain players will be better suited to play in specific positions and I do look to use individual’s strengths, to my advantage. I do not like players who are very strong in one area and then limited in the other, because good coaches would identify a players weakness and look to use it to their advantage. The only time that I allow a players to be position specific, is when you are the goal keeper, other than that everyone needs to have a good idea how to play in each position, if required. The modern game requires for individuals to fit into any style of game and have the ability to adjust automatically while the game is taking place. I know for my game plan, I prefer players who have the ability to read the play and then make an educated decision during that play.
Q:Was there anything in particular that you thought was vital as a coach to cover before going on Currie Cup?
RW: Of course Yes, every coach has their own ideas and opinions on how the game should be played and these need to come across in the time leading up the tournament. These are the things I feel are vital in my coaching:
1. I come from the belief that the team will always be victorious against a group of individuals. So, this will always be the foundation of my coaching and I look to instil this into every team I work with. It is important that players are seen to be equal and they all work together to achieve the results they wish to get. All it take is one player, not to be on the “same page” as everyone else and your opponents can look to capitalise on that situation. The team needs to always come before any individual player, with the structure to support individual strengths and weaknesses. Unity and Synergy are two words that best describe how I approach my team dynamic.
2. It is always essential to cover all the necessary basics and fundamentals of the game, before moving into any tactics. It is easy to get carried away with tactics and often players are unable to do the basics of the game, therefore failing to implement the tactical plays correctly. Once we moved into the sessions where we were able to look at a game plan, I make sure that we covered the relevant tactic’s that would allow for us to deal with any game plan, that our opponents used. Players need to be give the tools and knowledge to make the correct decisions regarding plays, so they play to the best of their abilities. As their coach, I fell it is my job to guide players and provide them with options, to break down our opponents tactics.
3. I want the team to play a high tempo game, with the ability to create as many offensive opportunities as possible and making it a difficult as possible to break down our defensive plays. In our preparation I implemented a “train the way you play” mentality and this allowed player to train at a more intense level, so they could maintain this level at the tournament. Players needed to continues raise their standard of training, in order to be a more effective and efficient player.
Q: Do you think the team was prepared to the best of their ability?
RW:Leading into the tournament, I always feel that there is more we could have done in our preparation, because I have such limited time with the team. I like to go in to tournaments knowing that I have given my teams every opportunity to go on and win the event, so I place a great amount of priority on making sure that I have done enough to place us in a favourable position. There is always one or two players that I feel we could have moved onto, but as I said ” I will never move onto a tactical play, if we have not covered all the basics first or if we have not covered the tactics before, that specific play”. I would rather have two or three plays that I know we can implement at one hundred percent, than having five or six plays that we can only implement at seventy five percent, because as soon as there is pressure on players, they often question themselves in game, if they have not completely understood the tactic and do not implement the tactic correctly.
Q:Where do you think Western Province falls in comparison to other provinces?
RW: I have been fortunate enough to work with a large amount of players, country wide and I feel that Western Province Ladies Water Polo is arguably the most competitive structure in South Africa. Other Provinces have great teams and individual players, but what Western Province has over the rest, is the Club League Structure. In the past two years, I have seen the Club league been dominated by one team and the standard of the league is continuously got stronger each season. There are five teams that play to narrow results each week and this forces team to be more organised in their preparation for the season, if they wish to get results over their opponents. Coaches and players are forced to be more structured and motivated to win the league, which forces the standard of Water Polo to continuously improve.
Q:What is your opinion on where the standard of Water Polo in South Africa is?
RW:Good question. South African Water Polo is still trying to find its feet in an international arena and it is difficult getting positive results against teams who have professional programmes. We have a long way to go, but we are continuously trying to improve on our previous results against the leading nations and to be as competitive as possible. Being an amateur sport, the major problem we are faced with, is that our athletes are required to cover all their own financial costs, associated to be involved in the sport. It is rare that players or teams are offered financial assistance, therefore players need to earn additional income to support their pursuit of being an international athlete. This means we do not have the structure that allows us to compete in an international tournament at every opportunity. Due to players having to commit to work commitments, it is not easy for everyone to get time off from work or get in the necessary hour of training to be an elite Water Polo player. If we take a look at the other countries who compete at an amateur level, then we are competitive and we can achieve more pleasing results at this level. If we wish for our level of Water Polo Athletes to improve in South Africa, they need to adopt an attitude of being an amateur but to do everything in their power to being as a professional as possible.
Q:Do you have any additional comments on being a Western Province coach?
RW:It was an amazing opportunity and a true honour to work with the ladies team. I had a fantastic experience and was thankful that all the time and effort put in by all, come together in the end. Winning Currie Cup was a delightful way to culminate the season and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the team.