By | February 18, 2013

(Part 4 is to be used in conjunction with Part 2 Task Two)


  • Ultimately whether to select or not select a player is based on the selectors subjective judgment, the selector’s “gut” reaction and instinct.
  • However, this judgment is based on a feeling for the way the player plays. It should therefore be the last criteria for selection and not the first.
  • Prior to making this final judgment, an objective selection process can be used. This process involves a step-by-step method of selection that is systematic and comprehensive.
  • This method will ensure that when the final choice is made it is based on sound objectivity to the stage at which the final subjective selection is made.


Selecting Proactively or Selecting Reactively

Proactive Selection

When a team is selected proactively it is selected to meet the requirement of an ideal game plan i.e. the way the Game should ideally be played. So the process would be to develop the ideal Game Plan and Patterns of Play and select the best available talent to play to it.

Reactive Selection

When a team is selected reactively, the first step is to develop a profile of the talents of the players that are available. While this is not a profile of a specific team the process is the same. Once the profile has been developed its strengths and weaknesses will enable a Game Plan, Patterns of Play and Tactics to be developed.

Experience shows that in most, if not all situations, the reactive approach is the one most often followed by selectors and coaches. This is because the talent that is available to most has its strengths and weaknesses. In all situations the strengths and weaknesses are relative. They depend on the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. There are few teams who cannot afford to take this into account when they are preparing for a match.

It would be reasonable to say that if a team is able to play proactively, to an ideal plan, then it is probably playing against very poor opponents. The team should probably be playing at a higher level, if there is one.

Game Plans that are often looked on as being proactive are more often reactive. Having observed the play of their opponents a team changes its Game Plan to exploit strengths and avoid its weaknesses. Of course both strengths and weaknesses are relative to those of the opposing team. Consequently the method of selection that will be explained will be one that is based on a reactive approach not a proactive approach. It is more realistic.

The Selection Method

The steps that should be followed when selecting a team will first be listed. Following this each step will be explained in turn.

The selection method is based on the following steps:

Step One       –           Team Profile

Step Two      –           Game Profile

Step Three   –           Positional Requirements

Step Four      –           Analysis of Players

Step Five       –           Selection Responsibilities

Step Six        –           Observing Games

Step Seven   –           Selection Meetings

Step Eight     –           Co-ordination and Consistency

Step Nine      –           Attitude

Step Ten       –           Intuition

Step One – The Team Profile

The use of the word “team” is misleading because the profile includes all the playing talent that is available. However, because the processes of developing a profile is the same as that used in the Game Planning Course the term Team Profile will be used

From the total pool of players available the Principles of Play are used to categorise strengths and weaknesses. The following Team Profile Analysis Form is used for this purpose. Implied is knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the individual players who are available.

This knowledge shall be written down in a profile for each player i.e. each players strengths and weaknesses. The profile should be as detailed as possible. Time spent on details in these first steps will ensure that the conclusions arrived at in later steps are accurate.

The Player Profile form should be dated so that comparisons can be made with profiles at various times during a player’s career. The form can also be the basis of an interview with a player when discussing the players training programme.

Step Two – Game Profile

Once the Team Profile is completed the Game Profile can be written. The Principles of Play are used so that the Game Profile has consistency with the Team Profile. Selection will now be based on achieving the Game Profile.

As explained in the Game Planning Manual there will be an attacking Game Profile and a defensive Game Profile. Both can be further sub-divided based on field position and / or the positioning of the opposing players.

The Game Profile (what is to be achieved) can now be used to develop Patterns of Play and Game Plan, both of which explain how the Game Profile is to be achieved. These provide the selectors with the criteria for selection that they will use when observing players.

Implied in the Game Profile are the strengths and weaknesses of opposing teams. While these are important, it is important to be positive. The Game Profile and the Patterns of Play explain what and how the team will achieve its aims throughout the season. They are, therefore, what the team is aiming to achieve throughout its matches. Weaknesses should not be dwelled upon.  Teams should enter matches aiming to do what they do best.

If so much emphasis is placed on the strengths and weaknesses of individual teams, the team will not develop its own style of play. In these circumstances each match will be a “one-off” situation in which a team finds itself continually changing in reaction to opponents.

The aim should be to develop a proactive Game Profile and proactive Patterns of Play that a team imposes positively on opponents. Tactical changes in the Game Plan are a change of emphasis within the Patterns of Play rather than playing to a different Pattern of Play for each match.

Step Three – Positional Requirements

The method of developing positional requirements and an example are listed elsewhere.

Step Four – Analysis of Players

 In Step Four the player profile forms that were used in Step One are used in more detail.  Here they are used to rank players by position. The ranking will be based on the positional requirements.

 So long as there has been sufficient effort to ensure that the Team Profile and the Game Plan are accurate then the positional requirements will be accurate. The players will therefore be judged by what is needed to be successful.

The player profile forms should be regularly updated. They can be used to follow the player’s progress during the season. By ranking players according to the position based on the information on the forms, the selectors are in a position to make an initial selection.


The ranking also gives the selectors a “pecking order” should first choices be injured or if more than one team has to be selected from the same pool of players.

Step FiveSelection Responsibilities

 Once the players have been ranked and the rankings received throughout the selection period players can be categorised into three groups – “in”, “out” and “unsure”.

The “in” players are those who will definitely be in the team.

 The “out” players are those who will definitely not be in the team.


The “unsure” players are those who the selectors are unsure of and who will be competing with each other to make the team.

This method enables the selectors to concentrate on the last group, the “unsure” players. Their task is now more manageable and selecting can become more specific.

The convener will now be able to delegate responsibility to members of the panel.

The player requirements will now become very specific so that the minor differences between players of equal calibre can be identified.

Step Six – Observing Games

When selectors are watching players they must be constantly referring to the positional requirements they are to concentrate on. This task is different from coaching. The selectors are watching individual players. They should not be distracted from this by watching the match as a whole. This takes considerable discipline

Experience has shown that individual players should be watched constantly for up to 10 minutes. This would seem to be the minimum period. The selector must be able to observe play away from the ball as well as play when the player is directly involved in using, retaining or regaining the ball. This is more important for some positions than others.

When a selector is watching a player the positional requirements are a checklist to categorise information. All information should be recorded. Writing it down may do this, however, play can be missed while this is being done. A better method is to use a Dictaphone. This can be replayed a number of times after the match.

Both written notes and recorded information must be compared to the positional requirements. This ensures that each player for each position is compared using the same criteria. Selectors should watch players independently. This is to ensure they don’t fall into the trap of supporting each other’s point of view.

A major difficulty when selecting is reducing the number of players being watched so each can be watched for some time. The categorisation of players into the “in”, “out” and “unsure” groups achieve this. It enables selectors to concentrate on a limited number. This is a worthwhile method, however problems arise when players take part in trials.

Prior to the naming of trial teams a considerable amount of work will have to be done gathering information on players. In a trial, comparisons can be made between two players competing for the same position. The difficulty is that there are 15 positions, all of which may have to be observed. Clearly this is impossible to do thoroughly. This can be helped by playing against an opposing team that is not in contention for selection. It reduces the number of players to be watched by half, but it is difficult to make comparisons.

At representative level and above, the problem may be solved by increasing the number of selectors for the trials only. The most obvious way would be to have a selector for each position. This would involve eleven selectors. Where there are two players playing in a position there will still be time enough to watch each player for at least 10 minutes. This frees the official selection panel to watch individual players, as they will know that there are selectors covering all positions.

For this to work successfully, the positional selectors have to be briefed in detail about the positional requirements. Once the trial is over a debriefing of the whole group should take place before the official panel is left to make their final selection.

This system works well so long as the positional selectors are well chosen, understand what is required and are disciplined to watch the players rather than the match. When this is first done, all positional selectors may not be able to meet these criteria. However, at each successive trial the standard will improve as they become familiar with what is required. Changes may have to be made before someone who is good at positional selecting is found.

Step Seven – Selection Meetings

 Regular selection meetings are essential to monitor the development of players. There are two types of selection meetings. Those that take place prior to the selection of the team and those that take place once the team has been selected.

Pre-Selection Meetings

At the first meeting the ranking lists of players by position mentioned in Step Four – Analysis of Players should be written down. By doing this the panel has a starting point for selection. Considerable time should be spent discussing the merits of individual players before ranking them. This ranking should be reviewed at each meeting that follows. Changes must be justified.

These meetings have two further functions. The first is to categorise the players into the “in”, “out” and “unsure” groups. The second is to identify players who need to be watched more frequently because the selectors have insufficient current information about them.

If positional selectors are used at trials they should be asked for their rank order and they must give their reasons for it. They must be prepared to be questioned by the selection panel about their rankings.

These meetings will highlight strengths and weaknesses. Because of this they may have to revise aims, Game Plan and Patterns of Play. Secondly, they will be able to focus on positional weaknesses. This may force them to select beyond the initial group of players, to cast their net wider.

Post Selection Meetings

Post selection meetings are those that take place after the team has been selected. They are therefore meetings that take place during the teams playing season. They will usually take place as soon as possible after a match to select the teams for the next match. It may not be possible to spend time discussing rankings each week. In fact this may lead to erratic selections that will prevent the team establishing its patterns of play as a unit. Ranking meetings should be scheduled to take place less frequently but regularly.

At meetings between each game it is most important to know of injuries to players. It is important that a realistic assessment of the injury is made. The player should return to play only after total rehabilitation. It is equally important to ensure that the player is following a course of treatment that will ensure a return to play as soon as possible.

When teams are being selected it is important to justify changes to the initially selected teams. For a change to be made the replacement player must have been consistently better than the incumbent. If this is not the case, a change made and the change is unsuccessful, two players will have had their confidence affected and the performance of the team will have been detrimentally affected.

Step Eight – Priorities and Consistency

It may be worthwhile when selecting to have a prioritised order of selecting. This order would state what should be the first priority, second priority and so on.

Selecting to a Game Plan using the ranking system based on positional requirements to meet the Game Plan directs the selection panel to its own list of priorities. While the priorities for selection must always be subjective, the following may be useful for selectors in determining their own:


Priority          Selection Criteria

   1                   Points scoring ability.

2                   Possession winning ability.

   3                   Ability to maintain continuity.

   4                   Decision-making ability (consistency).

   5                   Ability to perform basic attacking and defensive skills.

Whatever method is used, the most important element of any selection method is consistency.

So that the Game develops within a national union, a provincial union, a club or a school, the selection policy must reflect the Game Plan that has been developed. Consistency is therefore the most important priority in ensuring the Game develops.

For this reason it may be necessary to meet with all coaches and selectors and some players to work together on the Game Plan. By involving all in the formation of the Game Plan they will feel committed to it. They must all be made to feel that they are part of the whole and not a number of parts belonging to individual teams.

Step Nine – Attitude

Players competing for a position may be of equal ability. The strengths and weaknesses of a player may be matched by different strengths and weaknesses of another. Selection in these circumstances will be based on which player fulfills the demands of the Game Plan. 

But if the players still offer equal ability, the final criteria should be attitude. Even within this category are a number of criteria e.g.:

  • Commitment
  • Determination
  • Composure
  • Reliability
  • Concentration
  • Persistence
  • Compatibility
  • Initiative


Selectors will know the value they may place on each of these. The emphasis should reflect what the team in that position needs. This will vary from position to position. However, it is likely that the attitude criteria for a position will be similar, if not the same.

Step TenIntuition

It is at this stage after the situation has been thoroughly analysed in a systematic way that the selectors’ intuition becomes important.

We are dealing with a situation that involves people who are not robots. Because of this no selection can be entirely correct or entirely wrong. In a competitive situation the reaction of players will vary from match to match.

After watching players for a long time, the selector will develop a feeling for the play of the player. The final selection will be based on the selector backing this feeling


Selectors must be able to justify their selections to the players. This information allows players to identify their weaknesses, those factors that result in their non-selection, so that they can work on them.

Unless selection is carried out systematically, the selector’s advice to the players will be vague and general. This will detrimentally affect the selector’s credibility.

During the season team changes will occur. A player who has been replaced should have been told what is expected prior to a match and what the faults were after the match. In these circumstances the player will know why their replacement has occurred. It should not be spontaneous and unexpected. Players replace themselves by not performing the positional requirements to the required standard.

The player must be able to accept the selector’s point of view. The player may disagree with the view; however, the credibility of the selector lies in his willingness to tell the player what is required, what has not been achieved and to tell the player prior to anyone else knowing. The player has the right to know of non-selection before anyone else outside the selection panel and where possible, they should be told face-to-face, not on the telephone and through the media.

This aspect of selecting is the most difficult. To reduce the effect of these difficulties, the selection process must be systematic, the player should be dealt with honestly and when the change occurs it must be handled personally and immediately. Selectors must be prepared to be personally responsible for their own action.



















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