Young netballers learn from the best

Mount College students Stella Wilson, Stevie Morrison and Rylee Hoult loved training with Silver Fern Sam Winders, second from left. Photo: Alisha Evans.

Teenage netball players are getting the chance to learn from netball royalty thanks to a local development programme.

Silver Ferns assistant coach Debbie Fuller is running the TECT Player Performance Programme for Year 8 to Year 13 players.

Silver Fern Sam Winders has run a session, and long jump champion Maria Ruanui is also set to get involved.

The programme teaches netball skills, strength and conditioning, and offers sessions with a sports psychologist. Participants are monitored by a physio to ensure they’re moving correctly. The sessions runs for 10 weeks prior to the netball season at the Tauranga Netball Centre.

Debbie says the purpose of the programme is to teach the movement and skillsets that netball is now demanding from a younger age.

It also provides socialisation, with players from around the Western Bay of Plenty learning and playing with people outside of their school teams.

“This programme offers the opportunity to understand the value of working with different people, with different abilities and learning from the skillsets of each other,” says Debbie

“The programme is all about developing individual’s skills without the pressure of a competition. It's an opportunity for the individual in a team sport to grow their skillsets.”

This is the fourth year the programme has run and 132 players are registered this year.

Former participant Rylee Hoult says it is better doing pre-season with others, as well as getting game time and interacting with people from other schools.

The 17-year-old did the programme last year and says it made her and her teammates fitter and faster on the court. 

“The skills we learnt from the different coaches we had to apply them into game time, which gave us muscle memory, so it’s natural to do it on the court,” she explains.

Teammate Stella Wilson says what they learn in the psychology sessions can be applied outside of netball as well.

Sam ran pass and cut drills at the first training session and says it’s great that the programme helps players develop their skills.

“It's a way to develop players individually, and early on in the season, but also increases the level of play during the year.”

“Those taking part will be able to take their experience back to their school team, so the whole team’s ability is lifted.

“This will increase the quality of grassroots netball which, in a few years’ time, will improve the domestic and international league.

“It is important that players enjoy what they’re doing, give it their best shot and don’t stress too much about the outcome because they gave it a good go.”

Tauranga Netball Centre manager Tracy Walters says the programme not only prepares players for the season ahead, but exposes them to all the requirements a high performing player needs to learn.

“It's not just ‘go to netball, warm up and play’ like it used to be. Now there’s so much involved in it.

“It helps the players decide what they want out of netball, whether it’s to play socially or aim for high performance.”

The programme is partially funded by TECT.

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