With the Coronavirus-related lockdown in South Africa and suspension of sport across the globe, coaches and athletes are struggling to keep team cohesion and morale going… but not so much at defending Varsity Netball champions, Tuks.
Due to the national lockdown, it is easy to get despondent. To feel sorry for oneself. Tuks’s netball head coach, Jenny van Dyk, is the exception.
“For me, the lockdown boils down to a crunch moment during a crucial game. It is a test of character and time for heroes to rise. It is all about how you are going to cope when faced with adversity.
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“I am proud to say every Tuks player chose to step up. The past week, we did 18 sessions. It was possibly one of the hardest training weeks in the history of Tuks netball. We did so with never being on the court or in a gym,” Van Dyk reveals.
Being the innovative coach she is, Van Dyk planned ahead when she realised that a national lockdown was going to be inevitable.
“I worked out various technical drills and exercises the players can do while being at home and made videos. I am still continuing to do so. It forces players to take responsibility. It is their prerogative whether or not they are doing what is expected.”
To make things more interesting, Van Dyk also started a daily exercise challenge.
“I posted a video of me executing a demanding skipping-rope routine and posted it on our Facebook group. I dared the players to do better. Everyone bought into it. Only one managed to improve on my record. Since then, hardly a day has gone by without one of the players posting an exercise challenge.
“[TuksNetball sponsors] SPAR even bought into what we are doing. The player that gets to be the best in any challenge will receive a hamper from them after the lockdown.”
According to Van Dyk, these challenges are not limited to Tuks players. Players from any club are welcome to participate. It is part of the Tuks outreach programme to the community.
Tuks has undoubtedly established itself as one of the foremost clubs in South African netball. Last year they became the first team to win Varsity Netball without losing a game. The Jaguars, basically an all Tuks team won the Telkom League and Tshwane (an all Tuks team) the national championships.
But for Tuks, it will never be only about winning trophies. What matters is what is best for netball as a sport. That is why Van Dyk has developed a coaching App. It is aimed at helping young players master the finer intricacies of the game no matter where they are based.
Van Dyk said they are hoping to go live within the next week or so.
“It would be exciting if we can help lift the standard of netball all over South Africa through this App.”
Article courtesy Wilhelm de Swardt/TuksSport Media