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Thursday, 11 May 2017

Let’s Be Frank: I’m a student of the game

As I’ve mentioned before it takes a considerable amount more than a few court sessions to string together 60minutes of competitive netball once a week and it got me thinking about the off-feet preparations that I undertake to ensure that I am prepared for both training and game day. It became pretty clear to me early on that my talent alone would not suffice in an international environment and that I could not just train hard, turn up to play and hope to defeat my opponent.

Last week I wrote about the naivety that I had when I first started playing in terms of the international netball scene. That level of naivety extended to my knowledge and understanding of the domestic Australian netball talent and put me at a significant disadvantage when I arrived in Perth 6 months ago. Having never been one to seek out ANZ Championship games on the internet and with the creation of the new Suncorp Super Netball League, a shed load of player movement AND the creation of three brand new teams, I had some serious homework to do. Having had a lightbulb moment fairly early on in my netball escapades around the attitude and work ethic required to set yourself apart, I quickly realised that I wasn’t in fact God’s gift to netball and my physical attributes and efforts alone would not be enough. At this point video analysis entered my life and I was able to find more marginal gains.

The analysis of my opposition upon arriving in Perth became more important than it usually is due to my high level of unfamiliarity with people, not to mention that of my own performance and the unit around me. I do not profess to be a netball geek, however, it turns out I have developed to be a student of my game. I’m sure that these are semantics but just indulge me, the second term makes me feel better 😊

The coaching staff and our video analyst engage in a whole heap of opposition and team analysis which gets filtered down through the team in a variety of ways. Whether it be through post game stats, briefing documents, purpose built practices at training or specific analysis sessions.

My ability to analyse my own performance and track the ebb and flow of the team within the training and game day environment is pretty sound and I personally debrief a game by looking for ways that I can execute better technically and improve from game to game. A large amount of my time, however, is spent exploring ways to tweak and improve the defensive unit and find ways to accelerate our level of cohesion alongside developing individually. The reason why I enjoy playing netball so much and more specifically, in the circle as a GD, is that I love working in a close partnership to combat the opposition and then contributing that partnership to the workings of a bigger unit.

When under pressure and sitting the wrong side of wins it is so easy to turn on each other, start thinking small picture and critiquing tiny instances in games and letting your focus become individualised. Our team is looking to focus on completely owning your individual strength and consistently bringing that to the table come performance time. Our defensive unit is focussing on increasing our level of awareness and the solidity of our defensive strategies and using analysis as the tool to highlight areas of our game that we are all failing to repeatedly execute that will make the biggest impact come game day, regardless of the opposition.

It is taking time, and there have been uncomfortable moments throughout the season where we are operating outside of our comfort zone and learning to avoid making assumptions around what each other are going to do as those are based on nothing. By no means are we the complete package yet but we are functioning pretty well and you have to allow yourself time to let trust build and learn the habits of your peers. There have been many moments of individual brilliance this season and they are sure to continue. What I am most excited about though is the frequency with which I am seeing a versatile and repercussive defensive unit with partnerships operating with great trust and understanding when analysing our game!
 

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