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Coaches’ Corner: BAFCA Coaching Convention

The annual BAFCA coaching convention kicked off in Nottingham with coaches from all over the UK in attendance. With a mix of classroom based and field based sessions there was so much to take away that can be utilised in developing the coaching practices at the Valkyries. The day started off with a talk on building a team with plenty of real life applications, advice and points to consider. Following that was two excellent talks from ex-NFL coaches on O-Line and QB play. The sessions were full of clear coaching points and tips that were a fascinating insight to the intricacies of these positions. Ending the day was a chance to watch these NFL level coaches in action on the field for live drills. It was an excellent chance to watch them in action and see how they pick up on different aspects of player performance and then rectify it. Overall copious notes were taken and thoughts are already turning to how they can be incorporated into Valkyries training to boost player development.

Day 2 carried on where day 1 left off with a range of classroom sessions. In the spirit of looking at different areas for new ideas I went to both flag football sessions to see how they handled issues around philosophy, game planning and scheme. Led by both Kenny Bello (defence) and Joe Cotterill (Offence) they were a fascinating insight into how they not only prepare themselves but, more importantly, their players to have success. The talks were full of points that were easily translatable into the contact version we play and certainly provided a lot of food for thought. Following that was an offensive session from Coach Mazzone who gave multiple insights into how he prepares for both games and training. A key phrase to come out of this was how he looks to “give players the answers to the test before they take the test”. Here is the emphasis on preparation and communication and ways in which we as coaches can convey information to players so that they can understand it. Again, many take always on how information can be structured and presented which will certainly be a help to us

The final day continued the trend of providing thought provoking sessions that really challenged us to think about what we were doing. First up was an in-depth look at constructing a defence for the women’s game that was full of key insights and statistically based theory. It was a truly fascinating look at how the best team in the country go about it and thanks must go to Coach Branagh for providing that level of detail and openness. This was one talk that certainly had the most direct take aways capable of making an immediate impact on the Valkyries. Following this was an offensive talk that forced us to really consider the ‘why’ behind what we do. At times a very uncomfortable talk due to the way it really made you consider exactly why you were doing what you were doing but ultimately one that gave very positive reinforcement and practical tips on how you could move forward so that you placed your players in the best position to succeed. In amongst these were talks about how to incorporate the Tight End position into an offence drawing on Phoebe Schecter’s direct experience with the Buffalo Bills and more from Coach Mazzone who went in depth on play install both in the passing and running game.

Overall it was a fascinating convention. Full of excellent talks that were full of direct tips and advice that could be taken away and utilised. It presented lots of challenges to our established ways of working and gave us new insights into how we might develop and, ultimately, give our players a better chance of success. Alongside this it was a great chance to meet coaches from all over the country and talk about how they do things and how they have overcome issues. Cant wait now to look to see how we can put these into action here at the Valkyries.

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Coach Browning: Looking Forward

Guest blog from Head Coach, Simon Browning

A new season and a new challenge.

It seems that taking on something new is becoming a habit for the team. Playing friendlies against local men’s flag teams and then being the only female team in a tournament shortly after. Entering our first national flag tournament and then our first tackle tournament a couple of months later. Instead of breaking for the summer, taking new players off to a summer tournament to get their first taste of action. Players getting their first taste of full 11-a-side action at the national Diamond series. And now… Read more “Coach Browning: Looking Forward”

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#throwback – Valkyries on ITV

We can’t believe a year has gone by since we were television super stars (well, kind of! Superstars). We remember the feeling well, it went a bit like this “OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH WE’RE GOING TO BE ON ITV AHHHHHH”. It honestly did feel a bit life changing though, and it certainly got us some attention from local women and other media stations. Of course there is still much more work to go to get our name out in the Cardiff area, and Wales overall! And we won’t stop until our job is done.

Read more “#throwback – Valkyries on ITV”

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Taster Day – Find out more!

So the time is nearly upon us where the Valkyries welcome some new rookies to join the team and try out flag football. Ay taster day is an incredibly exciting day for the team, hoping to expand and hoping to introduce a fun new sport to the women who attend. Now understandably, not a lot of people know of flag football, and even more understandably, some of you might be nervous! We know each of us sure were on our own venture to the first taster session or training session, and so we thought we would take this opportunity to write a blog about our feelings in the past, present, and future of the team, and also go through the idea of flag football in general. Don’t worry, we don’t expect you to know the rules, routes, or even have an idea of American Football. Just turn up and have a go!

What is Flag Football? I haven’t watched it before, and don’t know any of the positions or rules!

Read more “Taster Day – Find out more!”

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International Women’s Day 2017 – #BeBoldForChange

For those of you who don’t know, it’s International Women’s Day! We want to say thank you to all the women in our lives who support us and mould us (from our younger years to our continuing ones!), and especially to all the women who have broken boundaries in sport. The expectations and abilities of women and girls – what they can do, what they have a right to do – are constantly challenged as reshaped, and here we are as Wales’s first and only American Football team, part of the strong and growing network of women footballers (both amateur and professional) who show every single time we go onto that pitch that we CAN and we WILL play. As a team we like to think that we are a strong resource of support and encouragement for other women who join us, regardless of their skill and background, and challenging negative thoughts about what we can achieve and replacing them with a new and positive sense of empowerment.

Read more “International Women’s Day 2017 – #BeBoldForChange”

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Diamond Series try-outs

On Saturday four the the Cardiff Valkyries  – Maria, Dani, Izabel, and Zoe – traveled all the way to Northampton for the Diamond Series tryouts. With limited or zero experience in contact football, the day certainly started off as a morning of anxiety. We were in a room with some of Britain’s best women American football players, which included Team GB players scattered among them. However, once we were all kitted up the anxious feelings went away, and we were soon filled with excitement.

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A Tale of Might and Muscle

As many of you will know, the Cardiff Valkyries have been giving their all in the last few months. For many, they have learned a whole new sport from scratch. Some have even experienced coaching the team, communicating and directing new members and old. Regardless of the level of experience, however, there is always room for development in both skill and strength.

Read more “A Tale of Might and Muscle”

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Whose Health Is It Anyway?

Women’s health has always been a topical issue. From my experience, these issues have been about control. Controlling the food you should eat, controlling the activities you should do to still appear feminine. However, a significant variable surrounding women’s health, from my perspective, is the control of numbers. Whether it’s calories, pounds or kilos, measurements or size, these numbers are powerful. Read more “Whose Health Is It Anyway?”

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