Following on from the development day, this weekend saw the first selection day for Great Britain Womens Flag Football Squad.
A small squad of players, but a smaller squad of coaches. Headed up by HC Andrew Gambrill, the GB coaching group now sees two female coaches on the squad, Sarah Jauncey and Natalie Parker. Natalie is a coach very new to coaching, but not new to the game. She has played in both Flag and Tackle Football….and in the next few weeks takes her first coaching qualification.
Does the session feel different to the all-female squad from last week?
Most definitely, for one is feels more like a normal…….it is definitely more normal for me to be working with more male coaches than females! Also it fell back into the lead positions being held by my male counterparts, with the female coaches following – this is something that is changing in the UK, but as with everything else, it takes time.
The session was designed to address the weaknesses in the team. I was tasked with the quarterbacks, which in the UK is a recurrent issue in the female game. No part of female sport in British schools encourages or indeed teaches, the overarm throw which is a necessary part of the quarterbacks’ skill. Girls are taught everything to an underarm throw, which leaves coaching of this skill in American Football more teaching than coaching. We start with the fundamentals, regardless of background or existing skills.
As a coach of this skill, I have found that coaching the males and females takes a different approach. When coaching the females I have found that teaching the skills as a whole and in a games situation works so much better than the step by step skills version I choose for the male game. My male QB’s have a good grounding of overarm throwing from previous sport, and respond well to tweaks to their skill, where the ladies I have coached respond better to changing the overall technique as a whole and then reasoning the changes themselves. I have little academic research to back up this argument, just my experience.
The selection process so far has identified 3 quarterbacks for the GB squad, and two were present at the day yesterday. My personal coaching style is somewhat different to the ladies usual coaches, I use a questioning method, a guided discovery; with the coaching being a by-product of the answers. Allowing the players to find the answers through trial and practise, asking them how they ‘feel’ as they learn new skills, allowing them to experience the changes as we practise. This is a different method to both players, and they are responding well in that they are aware that they have an input into their own learning- and have some control in how they learn and how they progress. Is this a female coaching way? No, I know many male coaches who do the same thing; is it something new for the ladies of the GB squad? For some yes, and they are responding well.
To allow a player, be it male or female, to have some control over their learning allows them to be a writer of their own story. To have the experience of a guided discovery method over the usual leading style, allows the player to experience the changes that they are making through different emotions, physical and mental experiences. They are able to justify the changes as to how it ‘feels’ rather than how it looks. We have all had the player – the one who is better at a skill with the most unorthodox methods – but the methods work for them, this is something that works well with guided discovery.
The day was split into offensive and defensive skills, with every player apart from the quarterbacks taking a turn in each position. With this being the early stages of the selection process this allowed the on field coaches to assess the players. The ladies responded well to the tasks given and performed the skills well, and with smiles and laughter.
A recurrent theme throughout the last two weekends has been that this should be fun. Whether you are playing for your national team or play for fitness on the weekend, this is still a game, and it should be fun!
FCN American Football Co-ordinator:
Sarah Jauncey is an American Football Coach from the UK. From the glitz and glamour of multi-million dollar franchises in the US, Sarah coaches the sport in much more humble settings. Sarah is the Head Coach of her local team and the only female coach in the GB set up. To find out more about Sarah, read our exclusive interview with her HERE
Sarah’s role is to lead the creation of a Global network of female American Football coaches. To contact Sarah please email: email@example.com