Learnings from Talls Camp

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Western Sting and Western Australia 21/U defender Annika Lee-Jones shares her experiences from her third Talls Camp this week at Netball’s Centre of Excellence.

“Talls camp is an event in the calendar that I’m sure, much like myself, all the other tall netballers anticipate its commencement. This year our first Tall Camp took place from the 28th to the 30th of June at the Netball Centre of Excellence in Canberra.

In attendance were five shooters and six defenders from all around Australia, all being 190cm or taller. Over the three days we received expert coaching from Jane Searle, Sonia Mkoloma, Tania Obst and Kylee Byrne and participated in a number of specialist and match-play sessions.

In the current netball world Caitlin Bassett, Romelda Aiken and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid are some of the toughest shooters to play on in the world, their height advantage being a major contributor to this. As tall defenders, tall shooters are obvious competition that we need to learn to combat.

At our camp, skills to do just that were a key focus of our specialist sessions. In saying this, what is the point in having a defender who can only defend tall, holding shooters? Hence, we also learnt and worked on a number of key skills and tactics needed to stop the quick moving shooters that may face us. At this camp, under the guidance of Jane and Sonia, we focused on skills such as taking contact-free intercepts, the footwork needed to get around a tall body and split circle defence.

darters-vs-sting-28-may-2016-web-0210Wednesday and Thursday was when the match-play sessions took place. These sessions provided us with the perfect opportunity to put what we had worked on in the earlier sessions into practice. We played against the tall shooters as well as the shooters who were at the Centre of Excellence for the 19/U National Squad Camp, which ran alongside ours. This provided us with the perfect opportunity to put into practice all the skills we had worked on over the week and receive direct feedback regarding how we managed to implement them.

The Talls Camp program is the perfect place for us tall athletes to knuckle down and spend time working on a variety of different skills, with expert advice from the coaches. Along with walking away with vast amounts of new knowledge we also build friendships with girls from all around Australia.

It’s always a sad moment when camp comes to an end and we have to say goodbye to everyone, but luckily for us the fun of the Talls Camp is not yet over, as we will return to Canberra from the 26th to the 29th of November for another camp!”

Photography (left) courtesy of Ben Southall