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.