Academy Netball ready to Challenge NSW’s best
Written on the 20 September 2022 by SWSAS
Image: Maddison Leahy looks to keep the ball in court and maintain possession during the Regional Academy Games. Credit Peter Dovgan
Members of the South West Sydney Academy of Sport ‘Bingara Gorge’ Netball squad have well and truly focused on their individual preparation for the upcoming NSW Regional Academy Challenge, to be held in Port Macquarie.
Following a mid-program break to allow athletes and umpires to focus on their local representative team commitments and State-Aged titles, the squad returned to full training early in July, firmly focused on establishing themselves as the on-court benchmark for NSW Regional Academies.
In what has now become an Academy tradition at each training session, assistant coaches Selesitina Savae and Samantha Garrido lead the squad in an upbeat (for 8am in the morning) musical warm-up that very quickly has the squad awake and ready to go.
Following the warmups, the squad then splits up into groups under the watchful eye of lead coaches Van Nguyen and Lisa Filby, where any bad habits, excuses or tiredness are soon rectified.
With the focus of the second half of the Academy Netball program firmly fixed on the weekend’s Academy Challenge, the on-court training content quickly moves to positional skill development, as well as match play, as the squad looks at strategy on both the defence and offensive ends.
Certainly not forgotten, are the Academy’s umpire program athletes, as they complete their own additional briefing session, and rules reviews.
"In what is somewhat unique with the Netball program structure, is that we have umpires who are a part of the day-to-day training program," said sport operations manager Stephen Craig. "These umpires not only have access to their own development through an umpire mentor, but access to umpire the athletes during the training session and are also treated as fully fledged squad members", said Craig.
This approach allows the athletes, umpires, and coaching staff members to gain a perspective on where each other is at. And through their interaction and development within the high-performance pathway, can develop a better understanding of not only the rules, why they are called, but also the communication process that should take place between an athlete, coach, and umpire.
An element of the Netball program that the Academy is keen to adopt across a number of the Academy's sport programs in the near future.
Another key 'tactic' if you will, of the Academy's Netball program holistic approach to athlete development, is a large focus on fostering the environment for a growth mindset. This uses the mental training offered through the ‘Make Good Choices’ program, offered by Mel Prociuk, in areas of self-esteem, self-talk, resilience training, and realistic goal setting exercises.
The squad has also undertaken practical nutrition education during its latest block of training sessions, preparing athletes physically, and mentally for the challenge ahead.
The Academy will be competing with Division 1 and Division 2 teams at the tournament, where the squad will mix with the nine other Regional Academies on Day 1. These sessions are led by Netball NSW in a bid to teach the NSW style of play, as well as provide a talent identification opportunity in the lead up to their NSW U17 State trials and squad selections.
The Academy’s teams will then come back together for Days 2 and 3 where they will take on fellow Academies for the rights to be called Challenge Champions.
And with the long weeks of preparation fast falling behind them, our Academy is definitely heading North looking to settle some old scores and finish high on the Challenge ladder.