Netball Expert & Columnist
Scotland head coach Tamsin Greenway discusses a very different start to life in role
Greenway connecting with players via video call - "I haven't met some of them in person and I can only see their head above a desk, I'm having to ask how tall they are!"
Last Updated: 13/05/20 3:54pm
Tamsin Greenway takes us through an unusual first few months as the Scottish Thistles' new head coach - from meeting players for the first time on video calls to calendar planning and global systems.
The position as Scotland's head coach is Greenway's first step into an international coaching environment. She has arrived with a proven track record of domestic success and when it was announced in February, her appointment was widely lauded.
Within the sporting arena, the path from being a domestic head coach to an international head coach is one that is well-trodden. Yet, few will have experienced the type of introduction that Greenway has.
"It's been a very different and random start to say the least. I wasn't quite expecting the beginning to be like this," said Greenway from her home in the south of England.
"I've not actually been able to meet the squad yet. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go to Scotland before the lockdown happened - we had to cancel the trip when the restrictions were starting to come into place.
"So, although I know a few players from my time on court or through coaching against them, there are a lot of players in the Thistles' squad whom I've never met, let alone seen play."
As she is not able to meet her squad in person, Greenway has turned to the medium of video calling in order to reach out and connect with all 31 members.
"You have to smile sometimes, because I haven't met some of them in person and I can only see their head above a desk, I'm having to ask how tall they are!
"Of course, we're talking about lots of other things too, around what they would like to get out of netball and to be honest they've been amazing.
"Bearing in mind some of them don't even know me, they've been really open and honest about what their journey looks like and what they want to achieve. That's been great to hear.
"What I said to them all though, is that I need to see them play. I need to see them all in a training environment.
"Culture is massive for me, so I need to see how they operate, what their personalities are like and how they mix together. That's the challenging and frustrating part because I can't put my plans into place until they're together."
With the potential of her being on a court with her players seeming to be being quite a way off still, Greenway has been focusing on elements behind the scenes regarding how the team's future could look.
"When do you ever get to start a job with a blank piece of paper, strip things back and then have the time to put it all back together again?
"There are usually a number of jobs that you put on your to-do list and then they sit there because you're constantly trying to catch up, make a team win or get to the next competition. Now, some of them can get done."
The reality is that I'd love to be meeting the team. Even though I am doing all of this work behind the scenes, looking at the competition structure, trying to plan a calendar, benchmarking and coach education, there's nothing like being with the team and actually getting out there.
One key element that Greenway, Netball Scotland's CEO Claire Nelson and Strathclyde Sirens' technical director Karen Atkinson have all been discussing is the Thistles' calendar.
"One of my big points is that I don't want to go into Commonwealth Games and World Cups without facing the Caribbean sides and the African nations," the head coach said.
"You can talk about styles all you want but until you face them, you don't truly know them. We have big plans about tours and getting Scotland opportunities they perhaps haven't had before.
"Already, we'd started to put those plans in place but with the current global situation, and environments being different in different countries, I'm struggling to see how international netball can happen until the end of the year due to flight restrictions and other elements."
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It's clear that Greenway's introduction to coaching at an international level has been far from orthodox. However, it has still enabled her to further open her eyes to the global sphere and how that influences and impacts on specific teams.
"Whereas before I was working within the domestic environment, now I'm thinking globally and subjects like the international rankings come into play. Right now, one of the things around that is, what happens if some countries start playing Test matches before others?
"Will they get ranking points from them? How would that sit and work in the schedule? What about the countries who are not yet able to play due to their restrictions?
"In order to qualify for the Commonwealth Games and the Netball World Cup, rankings and your position within those rankings is incredibly important. You don't want factors which international teams have no control over, having a knock-on effect in a few years' time."
This new role has definitely opened my eyes to the bigger picture, which I love anyway. I’m incredibly invested in how the international game is played and looked at, so I’m sure those conversations [about rankings and matches] will come around in the next couple of months.
Greenway has already experienced so much within the world of netball and her experiences right now will only add further to that bank of knowledge.
"You come in on a journey and you know that it's a roller-coaster with twists and turns along the way; plain-sailing doesn't always happen," she shared.
"I've been inventive, setting up WhatsApp groups and doing technical and tactical videos on social media. I'll try and be as creative as possible in those ways.
"Every time you come across a problem, you try to find ways around it, but it will never make up for lost time.
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This weeks drill was a family affair. Casey in his high chair means only one thing....Target shooter 😂 Anyways this was recorded for #offthecourt (link in bio as usual) in honour of our special guest @gevamentor Best GK in the world but instead of focusing on her one on one game I thought we’d look at how well she reads the game. This drill is not just about the movement but how you implement it. So firstly practise your drive on to cones from different angles. Once you go....COMMIT Secondly add the timing of a player, if you come off too soon you’re killed Thirdly make it harder in open play. The best defenders intercept because they know where it’s going to go. DONT go for everything, keep looking and repositioning, but once it’s yours GO HARD 👍🏼 And for the real pros, check out Geva - her vision to come on to the ball @franwilliams11 and her timing off the GA to intercept Then it’s @janewatsonnz constantly positioning herself to see or go for the opportunity until the right option comes up. Mega #netball #defence #drill #intercept #speed #vision
"This period has given me opportunities to start having conversations though and put thought as to where we need to give players opportunities.
"Sirens were starting to do exceptionally well in terms of the Vitality Netball Superleague. We saw the likes of Beth Goodwin coming through and this period will have given players like Emma Barrie time to come back [from injury], which is a positive to take.
"As we continue to move forwards, I'll be looking at where the missing pieces are, thinking about how I want to build the squad, continuing to connect with the players and putting considerable thought into the structural elements.
"Calendars, funding, player and team opportunities are all key things and we know that we've got to be creative to see how they can all develop.
"We'll all need to pull together and fingers crossed, at some point when it's safe to do so, we can all get on a court together."