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Business, Engagement Edition Jill McIntosh


By: Jill McIntosh •  4 years ago •  

I started playing netball in Grade 3 while growing up in Perth. We had a very enthusiastic teacher come coach who put together a little team which progressed from Grade 3 to Grade 7. In high school I joined the Jay Dees Club instead and played there for a few years. At 15, our team didn’t have a coach, so I lead them, in a naïve way. It wasn’t a complete disaster and that’s how I got into coaching. I ended up coaching alongside playing, right through my career for most of the teams I was involved in.

We formed a few clubs along the way. The main club I played with was Bull Creek Netball Club where I was a player and coach for a few teams. We had dedicated parents who supported us, and we made it to the top grade, competing in a few grand finals, always just beaten for the win each year! Towards the end of my playing career, the competition was reshuffled from club-based at the local centre to a district-based state league competition – and I ended up playing for the Coastal Raiders. We finally won the Grand Final that year, in my last year before moving to Canberra. 

In 1990, I was appointed coach of the Australian Under 21 Team. Most of the players were based at the AIS, so I was given the opportunity to go to Canberra for three months, coaching with Head Coach Wilma Shakespeare and Gaye Teede. After that 3-month period, Wilma left the AIS, so I was offered an AIS coaching position and I have been in Canberra ever since.

In 1991, I was offered the National Coaching Director position with Netball Australia which had a heavy focus on coach education around Australia. I stayed in this position until the end of 1994 at which time I was appointed the Australian National Coach, a full-time position where I remained until 2003. 

In those days, the coach was the main resource. We had little sports science support or other personnel around. As the Head Coach, you were in charge – you ran the show. There was a manager, a physio, a doctor and an assistant coach who was not allowed to sit on the bench.

Although I rather fell into coaching, now there is a terrific pathway for coaches who demonstrate skill and aptitude. There are many opportunities for coaches today, both voluntary and paid coaching positions as they climb the ladder, a reflection of how far our game and development programs have progressed. With the ANZ Championships, we now have 5 full-time elite coaches as well as State Institute and Academy coaches. The support around the coaches is far, far greater than it ever was. It is likely that our high performance competitions and programs will expand in the near future which will open up even more coaching opportunities for our coaches – keep an eye on Netball and it’s growth over the coming years!

I am currently Chair of the International Coaching Advisory Panel, a component of the International Netball Federation (INF). We focus on coaching and what we can do to influence coach education and development internationally. Whilst there is limited funding at the INF level, the key successes from this panel has been the development of generic coach education resources and delivery of international coaching seminars, which we link to our major events. We delivered a successful International Coaching Seminar in Sydney last year at the Netball World Cup and also in 2011 at the Netball World Cup in Singapore. We also conducted a Coaching Seminar at the World Youth Cup in Glasgow in 2013 and will do so again in 2017 when Botswana are hosts. These events allow INF to reach many coaches across the globe who may not normally receive the opportunity to incorporate some professional development with their coaching.

In Australia, we pride ourselves on a world-class Coaching Accreditation system which also aligns with our athlete and competitions pathways. Coaches are required to have specified levels of accreditation for various State and National coaching competitions and programs. For example, at Australian and ANZ Championship level, Coaches are required to have High Performance Coach Accreditation. It is all about giving the coaches opportunities to learn and to grow. When Lisa Alexander, our National Coach, visits the States each year, she undertakes coach education. I will also take on a coach mentoring and development role with Netball Australia this year in our Targeted Coach Program and in my capacity as Netball Centre of Excellence Coach. This new initiative will enable Netball Australia to identify and develop coaches who can and will play a future role in our national High Performance system.

Each of our member States coordinate our grassroots coaching courses. However, in February this year, Netball Australia launched the online Foundation Coaching Course which enables our time-poor volunteer coaches to access the course anytime and anywhere across Australia. Coaches can then progress through our coaching pathway via their respective States who deliver the Development, Intermediate, Advanced and Elite Coaching courses. The pinnacle is the High Performance Coaching Course which prepares coaches for the professional world of coaching and netball as a business.

Like many other sports, coaches must be actively coaching and complete coach education training every 4-year period in order to maintain their coaching accreditation. This ensures that coaches take responsibility for their own professional development and that they stay abreast of contemporary coaching information and practices. Coaches must stay up-to- date with cutting edge coaching practices no matter if they are in charge of the U10s or the Australian Diamonds.

Just like players, coaches also have the potential to burn out, particularly now that netball is played all year round with coaches going from season to season without a break. However, somewhere along the line, if it’s not fun any longer to be a coach, then it is time to step away and take time out. They need to renew their enthusiasm and passion for coaching. For many the passion stays and we have had many coaching well into their 70s at a reasonably high level. You must ‘renew’ those around you as they are the ones who bring new ideas and new ways of doing the same thing to the table. They keep your mind open. Do the same thing all the time and you will end up with a group of very bored players!

Coaches have to make sure that, at a reasonably young age, players are taught the basic skills and ethics of the game – the proper way to go about it both on and off the court. The coaches play an integral part in their growth. They are responsible for instilling the right ethics into the players at all levels. Perhaps it is a cultural and historical aspect of Netball whereby our athletes compete for participation and fun from the outset and win or lose with integrity. They therefore become great role models for our aspiring young netballers along the way. Winning is therefore seen as a by-product – get the basics and team behaviours right and the rest will follow.

Until fairly recently, apart from the highest level, our players don’t get paid, so they play for the love of it. It’s the same with coaching. Most of the coaches do their job on a voluntary basis. Now our National Diamonds and ANZC players do get paid. We hope that, in the future, there will be more full-time netball players. Young netballers today aspire to play for their country and to wear the green and gold, they want to be a Diamond.

It is difficult at the international level to have a global accreditation scheme. The INF Coaching Advisory Panel has considered it, but the differing financial and personnel resources in each country make it difficult to implement an International Accreditation Scheme with standardised content and competencies. Many countries do however have and conduct their own successful accreditation/certification systems, which are of similar standards. Our accreditation levels globally are fairly well recognised if going to another country, e.g. Australia to England. CAP has created a document where a member organisation can at least use a checklist to satisfy and receive an INF endorsement for their accreditation program. 

When the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) included the Australian Coaching Council arm, they would run an Elite Coaching Conference across sports every second year. It was fantastic to hear what the other codes and top coaches do. We could learn from each other and it is now something we encourage our coaches to do – go out, watch and liaise with other sports.

Netball has had coaches working in many other countries, including at the elite level, when opportunities arise. Most will come back to Australia at some stage. The 5 ANZ Championship positions in Australia don’t open up that regularly and I don’t think it’s a bad thing for coaches to broaden their experiences. Australia and New Zealand have dominated the international scene for quite some time and although the competitiveness is there, all coaches want to coach. Sometimes coaches have to leave Australia and the result can improve the sport and international game. 

We would like to develop a competitive top 6 countries for international competition: Australia, New Zealand, England, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi.

We’re very lucky to have a great system, with great coaches, players and teams. Australia’s number one status in the world is due, in no small part, to the coaches who have been developed and to the standards they have set.


Jill McIntosh is a netball coaching legend and the current Chair of the International Coaching Advisory Panel at the International Netball Federation. She was the Australian National Coach for 9 years, after an illustrious playing career at the top level and led Australia to two Netball World Cup titles (1995,1999) and two Commonwealth Games Gold Medals (1998, 2002). She played 29 Tests for Australia and was part of the triumphant 1983 Netball World Cup team. Jill was inducted into the Australian Netball Hall of Fame in 2009.

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