By Ravi Vasudevan.
A few days ago I got a message from Lisa Kouwenberg, one of the National Women’s team organizers, stating that the Dutch National Women’s team needed someone to run a practice for them and asked if I would be available for it. I decided to help them out and went to Utrecht where 14/19 of the Dutch team came together for the first official practice of the season. Here’s what went down.
Since captains, coaches and roles were not yet fully decided, offensive and defensive systems were not really in place yet. The training, therefore, focussed mainly on individual skills and different drills that could be used to teach the players how their teammates play. This was also a chance to try out many different skills so that the eventual captains could gauge which players on the team excel at different parts of the game to form lines. We worked on basic throws and cuts, dump sets and playing under pressure in the first half to see where the women were at in these disciplines. The second half focussed on marking, defensive footwork and deep throwing.
All in all, I was very impressed with the level that this women’s team has even without 5 other strong players that couldn’t make it this time around. It is awesome to see the top of the Dutch women’s pyramid really buy into making a strong women’s team. Since Primavera’s heydey, there hasn’t really been an effort for this generation of Dutch women to put together their strongest players to see what they can do on an international stage. So what was I impressed by, specifically?
This team has skills. Everyone on the team was really solid with the disc and pretty athletic too. They have many players with great deep throws and break abilities. They also have players that can catch under really hot pressure and these are the building blocks that any competitive ultimate team needs to have.
The players are very coachable. I brought in a lot of stuff most of them were used to and a few things that were very new to a lot of the team. The vast majority of the team was open to trying things out and were able to adapt to different situations very well. I think once they figure out which systems to run, they will easily turn into a well oiled machine.
These girls are willing to work hard. I could sense the eagerness to run all the drills I put them through. I could see a lot of enthusiasm to push through even when things got frustrating or physically difficult. If they keep this up all season, who knows where they will end up in Copenhagen.
Of course some things still need work this early in the season like building chemistry and gaining some confidence. However, I feel that this group has the pieces necessary to put together a strong, competitive women’s team. I can’t wait to see what this team can accomplish in the coming season. After practice they had an hour long team session to split up team tasks and figure out how the team stands on different goals. 4 months including 2 tournaments and 6 practices left until Copenhagen. Let’s go Oranje.
Iris throwing a flick to Alicja. Defenders Imke and Henriette try to stop the intended play.
– Picture by Martine Bootsma