Skills training is founded on basics. The best sporting techniques are developments of basic skills. In netball training programs, ball handling and movement are primary skills. Balance, coordination, and building good reflexes and responses is critically important. This involves more than practice. Even talented players have gaps in their skills, and knowing how to do some things doesn’t mean knowing how to do others. This training requires systematic management to meet high standards.
Training programs and basic skills
To a large extent, basic skills training covers the development of the muscle groups involved, but to get the required level of precision and sustained performance at match level requires a lot more work:
These are just some of the typical skill sets in basic training:
- Passing and movement: Players learn to handle the ball while in motion. This routine is usually done by a “feeder” passing to players who must receive from left and right.
- Speed and accuracy (basic): Passing at a sprint, involving usually three players and two balls, rapid passing moves to build up reflexes and ball handling fluency.
- Speed and accuracy (development): The same as the basic version, but using four players returning passes to feeders.
As you can see, these are fundamental game skills. The skills soon become reliable reflexes. These moves, at sprint speed, build player skills very rapidly. They also build confidence, essential for match play.
Skill development is rarely consistent, even for very good players. Some people are great passers, but lousy receivers in training. Some fast sprinters can barely keep track of the ball. Others are terrific defenders, but lost in attacking moves.
The basic training format is like a map of areas for development. For coaches, it’s very like case management.
Player A is given a score out of ten for each skill:
- Passing- 8
- Receiving- 6
- Ball control- 7
- Goal shooting- 10
- Agility and speed- 3
The required skill levels are 10s. This is a player who’s not a good runner and a bit clumsy as a receiver. Running and passing are exactly the areas to be developed to cover the deficiencies.
Balance, landing, catch and throw are actually high stamina activities in netball. Agility depends on fitness. Training programs have to combine fitness levels with skills. Balance training in particular is important, because good balance ensures good muscle group action, reducing strains and fatigue.
Netball skill drills are like marathon training. You increase stamina to produce more stamina. Good judgment is required to ensure players are receiving consistent benefits and not overdoing it, which actually reduces stamina.
Measuring results must be consistent. Avoid making “allowances” for performances which really aren’t up to scratch, or show serious weaknesses.
For example: Player A, above, should be showing 9s and 10s across all basic skill areas after remedial work on ball skills.
Set consistent standards. A substandard player is a liability. There should be no ambiguity about what’s good enough and what’s not. Given the standard, all players know what’s required of them, and will work towards it.