Replicating pressure moments more intensely in training sessions will be a priority as Sunshine Coast Lightning look to power through the next 3 rounds leading into finals.
Lightning is most comfortable when playing their controlled, dynamic style of play but Head Coach Kylee Byrne saw her players become more frantic as the physicality increased against Queensland Firebirds on Monday.
When dissecting the match, the conversation quickly turned to how the team responds when the opposition forces them away from their natural style.
“They players already raised a few things in the changeroom,” Byrne said.
“When ‘us’ is taken away what are we going to go to and what do we put out on the court.
“At training we need to put each other under a bit more pressure and put each other under pressure in different ways.”
Those player driven discussions please Byrne, who believes her coaching style centres around educating and equipping the players with the resources they need to make their own decisions in game.
While the role of Coach is pivotal throughout the match, Byrne also wants the team to take ownership out on court.
“I love to coach thinking players,” she said.
“You hope as a Coach you’ve given them enough that ‘at this time, in the moment, this is what I need to pull out of my toolbox or from our general principles’.
“We didn’t do that against Firebirds, we kept doing the same thing – we tried and tried but the harder we tried, it didn’t happen.
“This team has the ability to think and work their way out of it, but unfortunately we couldn’t get there on Monday.”
As part of her coaching philosophy, player welfare is always front of mind for Byrne, but this season has demonstrated just how important it is to balance the athlete and the person.
When Steph Wood and Laura Scherian presented with injury niggles during the match, the coaching and medical team made the decision to not risk aggravating their condition and kept them on the bench.
Post-match Byrne said the decision was not just physical it was also to protect 2 of Lightning’s senior players emotionally from feeling pressure to perform while under an injury cloud.
The result saw a Lightning lineup that had never been out on court in that formation playing out the majority of 3 quarters.
While challenging, Byrne remains positive believing the players will benefit from the run.
“It was an opportunity for others to put their hand up – as Mahalia (Cassidy) just said to me, ‘I bet you didn’t wake up and think that was the lineup you’d have out on the court’,” she said.
“We have never played that lineup – not that that’s an excuse.
“Harls was last in wing attack in February before we decided to really work on her defensive game.
“Even (Cara Koenen) playing goal attack with her – I never would have thought that combination would be on the court.”
Suncorp Super Netball has relocated to a Queensland hub for the final 3 rounds, with the league yet to announce the upcoming fixture for the remaining rounds.