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Play as a team not as a bunch of players

Players, by nature, chase the ball and crowd the court. To win games you must play positional netball. This is what coaching is all about.

Trainers teach fitness, skills and take drills. Coaches teach players and the team how to play positional netball.

A coach shows players how to use the court space properly. There are no drills for spacial awareness as knowing how to play your court position has to be taught.

The natural flow-on is that players learn quickly how to read the game.

Players’ must learn to fall back into their positions otherwise crowding occurs.

It’s a natural tendency to want to chase the ball around the court but the trick is to curb this desire.

Chasing the ball is the single most common fault players commit and they have to be trained to play in their positions. (Without this particular training to do well in netball is only a pipe dream)

Repetition is paramount here. Training players to fall back into their positions takes time, but once players’ understand that this creates space to move forward it becomes second nature to them.

This is how I coach players to hold their positions on court:

At practice matches on training days/nights I have other Umpires taking the game so that I can concentrate on the players. These Umpires know that if I blow long and loud on my whistle play will stop so that I can speak with the players.

We train with two teams, one Senior rep team and the U17 rep team for tough fast competition.

In training when I see one, two players or more out of position chasing the ball I blow the whistle, the players know that they have to stop and stand where they are.

If they move to back away, I pull them back to where they were and I then ask them to look around and tell me what I can see. Once players have the chance to look around and see what a shambles they are in, position wise, the answer comes quickly, “we are bunched up”.

I sometimes make a comment, like, “I could throw a tissue over you all you’re so bunched together” or “ladies, you’re chasing the ball again, you are not seven year olds new to netball”, which usually raises a laugh amongst them.

Stress to the players that if one or two of them are out of position then that means other players will end up being by-passed in play and the team has disadvantaged itself by not using everyone that should be involved in taking the ball down the court.

I then re-position the offending players back to where they should be on the court. I explain that when they run into another player’s “space” then that player has no-where to go and you end up with the crowded situation.

It is fine for players to advance helping out the team. There’s nothing at all wrong with that, as the problem only occurs when they stay in the area, this is how “clusters” form.

As the coach, you have to be prepared to continually drag players back into their original position so that they have another chance at leading for the ball when required to do so.

Trust me, this is a continual process. There are no drills – just the coach talking and moving players through practice sessions.

At times you think it’s never going to sink in, but as I found come the competition game or carnival the players started to automatically drift back to their position, thus freeing up plenty of court space should the need arise for them to go again.

Some coaches during the game will instruct the players when to fall back into their position until it becomes second nature to them. This type of game coaching is very common for young teams.

When the players master this primary aspect of netball, the team is pretty to watch and nothing will stop them!

It is important to remember that by falling back to the proper court position has a great effect on players’ ability to move the ball forward to the goal circle.

When all seven players play positional netball, the teamwork becomes obvious and these teams are hard to beat. 

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Courtside Tactical Play

Tactics #1
This crucial tactic will
show you how the professionals get the ball past the defenders to the goal shooters.

Please note: All players swap between being attackers and defenders depending on which team has possession of the ball. You need to know how goal shooters work the circle otherwise GA & GS will have all their own way. Tactics #2 will show you what's going on in the circle!

Tactics #2
You have got the ball to the shooters. What next? It is critical all players know how to work the goal circle to prevent a turnover.

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