Over the years I’ve come to really dislike watching my teams go through simple scrimmage games in training. The intensity level feels too low and there isn’t enough actual play going on. This isn’t every team all the time, but I do tend to find myself either feeling frustrated at the slow pace or getting twitchy wishing there was more action, more player ball contacts.
One night coaching in England was a perfect example. I was running a training session for the Exeter women ahead of them playing in South West Championships that weekend. Unfortunately, due to exams the numbers were low – only 7 players, plus one representative of the men’s team. Naturally, that meant doing a bunch of 4 v 4 stuff in the game-play elements of the session.
At the end of practice I had them play a straight game, but narrowed the court by about a third to encourage longer rallies. After a couple minutes, though, I couldn’t take it anymore. It was just too slow. To up the intensity I added an element to make it a wash game rather than just standard scoring. I did that by initiating a ball to the team that won the serve-initiated rally. A team needed to win both rallies to score a point. The team winning the first rally served the next ball. Basically, it was a variation on the 22 v 22 game.
The result of adding the wash element was that after about 25 minutes of play the game ended 7-5. I think the players would tell you adding the wash element made the game more intense and fun. I know I liked it a lot better as a coach. The volume of quality contacts was higher and there was a good conditioning element as well.
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