In netball being fit and capable is important likewise with our health and well being, also this is very useful whilst playing a match.

Netball requires its participants to have some form of physical fitness; the meaning behind this is to carry out simple tasks without fatigue.

By having physical fitness in netball it will give the game a higher success rate, we would be able to reach demands of the sport at a higher level. By doing this we can then identify both individual and team strengths and weaknesses, needing to be developed.

For Netball there are seven components of physical fitness to consider. These are:

  • Aerobic Capacity
  • Muscular power
  • Agility
  • Speed
  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Reaction time

Aerobic capacity can also be called “Cardio-Vascular” respiratory endurance or stamina. This is the ability to provide and sustain energy aerobically. It is dependant upon the ability of the cardiovascular system to transport and utilise oxygen during the sustained exercise. In a game of netball we need our cardiovascular system to keep our muscles supplied with the energy they require so they are able to get rid of built up lactic acid during prolonged periods of strenuous activity in netball where the whole body is involved, this depends on the efficiency of the heart, lungs and blood vessels. The higher our aerobic capacity the more efficient we would be throughout a match resulting in a better performance lasting from beginning to the end.

Our maximum aerobic capacity is known as our V02 MAX; this is the maximum amount of oxygenated blood that can be transported to and used by our working muscles during a game of netball. If netball players have a higher VO2 MAX, for example centre, they can use much more oxygen and will suffer less fatigue than those players with a lower VO2 MAX (for example a Goal Shooter).

We can improve our aerobic fitness for netball by increasing the aerobic fitness in both training and your own personal fitness regime. It doesn’t matter what exercise you do to increase the aerobic fitness as long as it is continuous. To improve the aerobic capacity heart rate must be kept between 70-85% of our maximal heart rate.

 To calculate one’s VO2 max we use the NCF multistage fitness test.

Each participant runs several 20metre shuttle runs in sync to beeps on a pre-recorded tape, the time interval between each beep gets shorter after a minute, meaning our running speed must increase. The participants do this until they can no longer keep up with the beeps. When they reach this point they stop and record their score, which allows us to work out our VO2 max.

In netball you should aim to be between levels 9-7. The greater our aerobic capacity the lower our pulse rate becomes after training or a match situation, allowing it to return to normal quicker.

Muscular endurance is very important when playing netball; it is the combination of strength and speed of movement. It is often shown in pacific situations during a match, for example, throwing the ball as far and as fast as possible or such as jumping for a rebound.

To improve the muscular power of a netball player we can introduce medium weights into their training, 60-80% of our maximum, and performing repetitions at speed.

Plyometrics training can also be used to build up power of competitors.

There are two tests, which can be done in training to measure muscular power or endurance:

  1. The Stand Broad Jump- to do this the feet must be placed comfortably apart, toes to be immediately behind the lines on the court, you then bend your knees and jump forward as far as you can, the distance is measured from the rear heel back to the starting point, each player should have two attempts.
  2. The Standing Vertical Jump- in this task you stand next to a wall. The highest point you can reach with your fingers of this arm is marked. Both feet must remain flat on the floor at this stage. We then chalk the fingertips and leap upwards touching the wall at the highest point. The distance between the two marks is measured and gives us an idea of how high we can jump from a stationary position. This test is much fairer than the stand broad jump as it takes into consideration your height.

The standing vertical jump is excellent practice for defenders and shooters helping them achieve successful rebounds.

Agility is the ability to change the direction of the body at speed. It is essential when playing netball, as it is the combination of speed, balance, power and coordination.

Netball players need agility to be successful in each section of the game. A good netball player would be able to do two things at once without getting confused, such as a running pass; the player wouldn’t have done footwork but completed a successful pass.

We can improve a player’s agility by practicing the movements, such as the feint dodge, in their training sessions. Doing this in similar conditions to a match should also help improve your speed, balance, and coordination as these aspects all affect a player’s agility.

To assess players agility in the best way is to record their performance. However they can assess their general agility by using the Illinois Agility Run. This is set up as shown on the diagram on the next page.

We lie face down on the floor at the start line. When the coach tells us we leap to our feet and complete the course in the shortest time possible. We can then compare with teammates.

Speed, in netball, is vital; it is the ability to move all or part of the body quickly. Speed is important during netball because it requires a great deal of effort over a short period of time.

Players need to develop their speed as a match can change its pace and direction suddenly which can lead to success.

For netball players to achieve their maximum speed energy has to be supplied to the muscles quickly. Muscles then have to contract in a short time; they use their aerobic energy supply systems for speed work. If the individual has a large number of fast twitch fibres in their active muscles then they have a natural advantage.

To improve speed in netball players should improve their strength through a weight-training programme; stronger muscles supply more power resulting in more speed. Also to increase speed you need to improve your reaction time, do this by rehearsing “toss-ups”. You need to be able to cope with the build up of lactic acid in the body and improve the level of skill; for example, an excellent player will be quicker and have more success in a pressurised match.

Players can determine their speed by timing them selves over a set distance in training sessions.

Coordination is a vital component of fitness in netball. It aids the ability to carry out movements precisely and efficiently. These movements happen as a result of the nervous system and muscular system working well simultaneously. Good coordination is very essential for skilful netball players. There are lots of examples of coordination in netball,

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They are:

Footwork, Interceptions, Dodging, Passing, Marking, and “toss-ups”.

Coordination naturally improves with practise.

A test for coordination is the juggling test; you start off juggling with two balls and progress to three. Generally you will find that some people are able to juggle faster than others.

This is the ability of the body to retain the centre of mass of the body above its base support. However the main type of balance required for netball is Dynamic Balance.

Dynamic balance is the ability for the body to maintain its balance under changing conditions of body movement, shape ...

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