Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke (left).
Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke (left).

Firebirds power play

PLAYER empowerment.

That is what will drive the Queensland Firebirds in the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball season.

After indifferent performances in the Suncorp TeamGirls Cup pre-season tournament at their new shiny $44 million home in early March, Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke decided to put the ball in the court of her players.

The Queensland Firebirds leadership group for 2019 (left to right) Caitlyn Nevins, Romelda Aiken, Gabi Simpson, Mahalia Cassidy. Pics Adam Head
The Queensland Firebirds leadership group for 2019 (left to right) Caitlyn Nevins, Romelda Aiken, Gabi Simpson, Mahalia Cassidy. Pics Adam Head

"In good teams, coaches keep the players accountable. In great teams, players keep the players accountable,'' Jencke said.

"I've been talking to the girls about that for the last month or so. I was quite firm with them about where I thought we were sitting at that particular time. I told them if they want to be a serious contender, we had to be training harder and keeping each other more accountable.

"There's no excuses for our performance in the TeamGirls Cup. We felt that we weren't at the standard that we needed to be at that particular time.

"After working very hard at training, they came out a few weeks later against the Giants and played much better because they played with great urgency for each other.

"With this group, it had to be about them empowering each other to have a voice and to be able to problem solve when they are in the heat of battle.

"We are in a really good spot now ahead of Round 1 but we have to keep pushing them to do that better.''

The first project with 'Operation Empowerment' was encouraging star goal attack Gretel Tippett to give feedback to emerging defender Kim Jenner on what she could do to make life harder for shooters.

The Firebirds open their 2019 campaign against the Melbourne Vixens on Saturday afternoon when the defending champion Sunshine Coast Lightning will also take on Collingwood as part of blockbuster double-header at Melbourne Arena.

The Sunshine Coast Lightning also crucnched the Firebirds in the pre-season tournament.
The Sunshine Coast Lightning also crucnched the Firebirds in the pre-season tournament.

The Vixens put the Firebirds to the sword in the opening match of the pre-season tournament in Brisbane with a 21-goal thrashing of Queensland who were playing their first competitive match on their new home court at Nathan.

Jencke - a three-time grand final-winning coach with the Firebirds who is keen follower of the AFL and NBA and their coaching trends - said focusing on people management and taking a subtle step back was the smartest option for her as a mentor.

"If you want to be a great coach, your voice has to be quiet, you don't have to say a lot,'' she said.

"If you have the right group, you just have to give them a few key messages or some key tactical and skill corrections that is going to help them.

"A lot of this job is about people management and getting them to commit to the common goal and to be passionate about driving towards that goal themselves.

Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke lays down the law to her players last season.
Firebirds coach Roselee Jencke lays down the law to her players last season.

"If you are doing the thinking for them all the time, they are not going to become great players. Great players take the responsibility for making the right decisions out on court.

"If you have a team where the coach micro-manages and the players are heavily reliant on the coach about what to do next, they won't become great.

"They might have some success but they won't be great. And at the Firebirds, we want to be great.''