In the first in a new series of coaching articles we asked GB Student Lions defensive coordinator Pete laird to explain the selection process.
Since the rebirth of GB students in 2013 we have put together 2 squads for our successful trips to Sweden and Finland.
Head Coach Wayne Hill has been the driving force behind the programme and the selection process he has set out should allow any student athlete around the UK (regardless of whether they are involved in BUCS competition) to be eligible for the programme.
For consideration every player must be a Great Britain passport holder. This may seem obvious but definition of citizenship can be a tricky one so a passport is essential for application. Our initial criteria in 2013 were adapted somewhat this year but what we asked for from players were the following measurables:
- 40 Yard Dash (20 Yard Split)
- 80Kg Bench Press (total reps)
- Broad Jump (cm)
- Lateral Shuttle
Date of Birth and Year of study also become an important factor for us. As the GB team is part of a National Programme it is imperative for us that players are placed along a pathway of athlete development. A 30 year old student may very well blow away his peers at BUCS level but it would be more appropriate that he be considered for a senior team berth than as a student player. Indeed a combined camp with Senior and student players took place in 2014 with Coaches Hill and Callan mixing the squads to get an idea of possible progressions. Likewise a student applying for consideration for the first time on a plus 1 (year) eligibility is unlikely to be considered.
Submission and consideration of measurables has become a tricky issue for us. In order to be considered for selection a student has to score well so there is an understandable temptation for applicants to ‘shave’ scores and times a little. We therefore ask Head Coaches to sign off on players applications so that we can have the results verified.
The nature of BUCS is such that we are always in a state of flux; new teams, new coaches, new players, and therefore we are trying to educate coaches as to what is true national standard and that they are advising their players as best as possible as to who should submit applications and advise players accordingly. This is one of the reasons we allow observer coaches at trials so they can get a better understanding of what we are looking for.
The application process is open to all and it has been heartening to see that players from multiple institutions are now submitting applications. An 0-8 team could still have a real hidden gem that could make the grade. Even the involvement of a players experience at trials can have a positive knock on effect when they return to their team.
We have also been looking at the submission of film to assist with the verification of our measurables and we do use film when considering players for final selection. The growth in teams with Hudl accounts has certainly assisted player applications particularly in the skill positions. We will also consider film when submitted by a Head Coach who wishes us to consider Player X who may only have recorded average testing scores.
These applications (400 plus this year) are then split by position and short listed by our positional coaches. At this point the invites to trials are sent out along with an edited playbook for use on the day. The trials are as centrally located as possible (and despite the complaints Loughborough is pretty central) and players are required to complete personal admin to bring to the trial day itself. This process of responsibility is one of the key things Coach Hill asks of our players and reflects the professionalism with which he approaches the task of assembling the team.