With the U18 age group the training focus shifts from ‘train to develop’ to ‘train to compete’, athletes enter this stage based on individual commitment and performance results, as well as having achieved the objectives of the ‘train to develop’ stage. They participate in year-round, high-intensity, individual- event- and position-specific training within a high-quality training environment. Athletes will now have to learn to perform skills under a variety of competitive conditions and will be challenged to compete at a national level to develop competition skills and abilities. Although winning games should be a pursuable goal, the focus during games and tournaments must still see development and growth go over winning!
Due to the relevance of competition at the ‘train to compete’ stage and the ambition to have meaningful and competitive competition, WHA will select an U18 team to represent Waikato during practice games, competition and/or at tournaments. A major part of competitive and performance sports is learning to deal with set back and setting realistic goals and expectations. WHA expects all selected players to participate in games (including finals) but does not expect players to be given equal minutes.
The U18 age group encompasses three birth years which can come with a big difference in relative age, and early (or late) physical and mental maturing. WHA will look to provide these players with an opportunity to bridge the gap to the A team with opportunities to play in an U16 team. WHA aims to give the U16 team games, competition and tournament experience where possible.
WHA will provide weekly U18 Development trainings throughout the year with additional strength and conditioning programming, gym access and life balance workshops. The U18 Development trainings are not mandatory, as they are there to serve the athletes best interest. Future campaign team trainings in term 2 and 3 leading in to National Tournament will be mandatory.
Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak and the expected financial impact this will have, WHA shall consider to provide the U18 group with inter-Association practice games hosted at several venues within reasonable travel distance from the Waikato district. This way WHA hopes to be able to ensure lower program costs due to savings on accommodation and meals, whilst providing high quality competitive games in a challenging environment.