The beginning of the journey

2014 17/U and 19U National

I’m here in Canberra again at our netball Centre of Excellence to present at and observe the athletes and coaches in action at the national 17/U Development camp.

Thirty-six excited young women in their respective state tracksuits were asked on the first morning of the camp to push through their comfort zones and introduce themselves to their new teammates in the national squad environment.

This person could – potentially – be their teammate in the Diamonds set-up in five or six years’ time.

More than 80 per cent of the Diamonds have been through this stage of the pathway and the percentage increases as the steps go higher towards the top.

It is not a guarantee though, and I reminded the athletes that this is the beginning of their journey and it will not always be smooth sailing along the way.

They will need to adhere to High Performance behaviours in all areas of athlete preparation, be coachable, work hard, and appreciate their time together in this environment.

No one has a gold pass to automatic selection. It has to be earned by continuous improvement and even then you may miss out as others have improved at a greater rate.

The National Development Squad members will also need to cope with setbacks, injuries, loss of form but have that burning desire to persist when the going gets tough, believe in themselves when others are doubting and have an open mind to learning and growing both as a netballer and a person.

This is the hard stuff, but the exciting parts to this week in Canberra are the positive and energetic attitudes that abound when young people are together.

The state institute and academy coaches Tracey Jeanes-Fraser, Sue Hawkins, Cathy Fellows, Melinda Clark, Tania Obst, Bronwyn Bock-Jonathon and Michelle Wilkins are experienced and among the best in the world and they cannot wait to begin their coaching sessions and work with these talented athletes from around the country.

A big thank you to our National Development Camp coaches for the extra effort they contribute to make this national program work so effectively.

We are also looking after Australia’s talented coaches of the future by ensuring we have learning opportunities through our Targeted Coach Program. Kym Symons (ACT), Amber Cross (NSW) and Carly Hoar (WA) are writing notes madly and participating in all sessions alongside our experienced coaches.

They are beginning their journey as well.

The other very important group in Canberra this week is our national development umpires group. 2014 17/U and 19U National

I spoke with these talented, up-and-coming umpires yesterday about working with coaches and athletes to get the most out of their training sessions with teams.

It was wonderful to observe this interaction in the following training session and see coaches, umpires and athletes working together to gain an increased understanding of the skills of the game alongside the application of the rules in action.

Umpiring at training sessions should be more than just turning up to umpire match play; utilising the expertise of the umpire in all parts of a coaching session becomes a chance to learn about the game more deeply for all involved.

The coach needs to lead this alongside the umpire, who has a willingness to learn and immerse themselves in the training session.

The ANZ Championship is hotting up with four Australian teams facing off against each other and Finals spots still up for grabs over the last three weeks of the regular season.

The world’s best domestic netball competition is certainly living up to its vision!

Go Aussies!