In the final post in this series, we chat to Elite Netball Academy’s head coach and founder Anna Carter to find out how the fear of missing out got her into the game and what advice she would give to her younger self.

What’s your earliest netball memory?

Attending my first netball practice at junior school, I didn’t want to go as I preferred football and felt netball was too much of a girly game for me. However, all my friends started going and I was worried about missing out so along I went. Even now, I remember everything about the session like it was yesterday, fair to say after that, I was hooked.

Who inspired you to chase your netball dream?

Marion Lofthouse was a coach of mine and was an inspiration to me as a young player whatever came out of her mouth in my opinion was law. She inspired, educated and gave every player she worked with a passion to be better. I was very fortunate to have Marion as a coach and now a dear friend. Marion saw the game like no one else I’d worked with before and understood what it took to become an England player. As I went into coaching, she was and still is a mentor to me and has shaped how I work with players and coaches now.

What has netball taught you?

Netball has taught me a lot, in fact, I could write a novel about every aspect of netball. The most important thing netball has taught me is to enjoy your successes. I’ve been lucky to win a number of things as a player and a coach, but my eye has always been on the next ambition or project, you must allow yourself time to process, pat yourself and your teammates on the back and say “well done, that was pretty awesome.”

If you weren’t a netballer, what would you do?

I love health and fitness and also supporting people to reach their goals, so I would have looked into a personal trainer or strength and conditioner. In fact, I’m studying for a personal training qualification at the moment!

Anna Carter
Anna Carter, Elite Netball Academy Founder and Head Coach

What’s your favourite netball moment to date?

Winning National Clubs u19’s for the first time with YWCA Bury as a player, a long story with lots of personal things going on in the background but against all the odds we won.

Any pre-game superstitions you can’t drop?

I’ve never bought into superstitions just had a strong and consistent game day routine as a player and a coach that I’ve improved on and refined over the years!

And finally, what would you say to your ten-year-old self in relation to life goals and netball?

A number of things, bit firstly have self-belief in your ability and what you want to achieve. I always worked hard on the court and always did the training that was asked of me and I don’t think you can ever regret working hard and leaving it all out there. Always look at how your can progress your performance the job is never done, as a high-performance players and coaches you have to continuously look at how to evolve and improve.

Be a positive influence in the environment you work in, as a player I liked a good moan and could be very critical. I wish now I’d been more positive and looked at how I could support and improve the environment rather than criticize it. And finally, enjoy the ride more, being a player doesn’t last forever but the achievements and the wins are there forever, take the time to celebrate them.

For more from Anna and her netball insights, follow Elite Netball Academy on Facebook.

Elite NetballAcademy

Meet Elite Netball Academy’s Brand Ambassador Natalie Haythornthwaite and coach Chloe Smith

In the third post in this series, we chat to one of Elite Netball Academy’s coaches Chloe Smith to find out why a diary is an essential part of her kit bag and what she eats before a match – the answer might surprise you!

What’s your earliest netball memory?

My earliest netball memory is from when I was playing in a high five tournament at a high school close to me. I was playing C and I got a shot in from outside the circle, I was so proud of myself, all my team ran in excitedly and gave me a hug. But obviously the goal was disallowed because a C can’t shoot! I was really upset at the time – it was such a good shot!

Who inspired you to chase your netball dream?

There are two key people who have inspired me to get to where I am today. the first person is my old Regional Performance Academy coach Alex Kirk (now known as Alex Young). Alex changed my game and triggered my love for netball. She worked me hard and ALWAYS made me finish every single repetition to a high standard no matter how long it took (sometimes the full 2-hour session!). I always say Alex was the best and worst coach I ever had, she was brutal and challenged me with some of the hardest fitness sessions I’ve ever completed.

The second person that inspired me to get where I am today is my mum. My mum always made sure I got to training and that I was on time, she waited at every training session, came to every game, and dealt with the tears along the way. My mum taught me that hard work never goes unnoticed (she proved this herself in our home and her own professional career) and that if I keep working hard and pushing on I will reap the rewards.

Elite Netball Academy Coach

What has netball taught you?

Netball has taught me so many things, one of the most transferable skills is probably that it’s taught me how to manage my time and be organised. Thanks to Joan Young who made a diary an essential part of my kit bag. It has taught me that being part of a team, part of something, is so much more enjoyable than trying to battle through things on your own. Netball has also taught me how to keep positive and have a positive mindset. I feel like this is one of the most important lessons I have learned to date, especially in lockdown and with the pandemic. Some days I really don’t want to go and train but I know that if I do I will feel so much better physically and mentally.

If you weren’t a netballer, what would do?

That’s a tricky one, I honestly don’t know! Netball is my life! I can only relate this question to different types of training that I enjoy to do so maybe a CrossFit athlete?

What’s your favourite netball moment to date?

Most people would probably say winning a medal or a huge tournament or a big game but for me, it was having all the girls back training together after the first COVID lockdown. The vibe was so good, we were so excited to be back. It was so nice to have some of my closest friends and the most amazing athletes all in the same place at the same time after what felt like a lifetime of not seeing each other! Just IMAGINE what the first game back is going to be like… I CANNOT WAIT!!

Any pre-game superstitions you can’t drop

I do have one pre-game superstition, I have to have a piece of cake before a game, or I won’t play well. It’s a good excuse to have a piece of cake every week right?

And finally, what would you say to your ten-year-old self in relation to life goals and netball?

Make sure you balance netball and your life goals as evenly as possible. Your future is important and so is your love for this game, work hard and find the time to do both, don’t make excuses.

Elite NetballAcademy

Meet Elite Netball Academy’s Brand Ambassador Natalie Haythornthwaite and head coach and founder Anna Carter.

Chatting with Elite Netball Ambassador Natalie Haythornthwaite

February is the month of love, it’s a time to cherish those around us and the activities we love doing, which for us means one thing – yup you guessed it – it’s time to celebrate our love of netball! We’ve asked some of our coaches and brand ambassadors about their netball journey – how they got into the game and what playing netball has taught them. We start with England Roses and NSW Swifts player Natalie Haythornthwaite.

What’s your earliest netball memory?

My earliest netball memory is back when I was in primary school, at the weekend I used to watch my mum play on the netball court at my primary school with all the other mums. I thought it was so cool that my mum was playing this awesome game with all her friends, and I just wanted to do the same. So, she took me along to a netball fun day with my two sisters, and when we got there (bearing in mind we are from a small village) we were the only people there! The amazing lady running the day,  Mrs. T, made sure the day went ahead with just the three of us and it was AMAZING. It’s safe to say I’ve been in love with the game ever since. 

Natalie Haythornthwaite
Natalie Haythornthwaite with her first netball team, back row, second from the left.

Who inspired you to chase your netball dream?

I have been lucky enough to have so many people inspire me to get to where I am today. My parents have been with me since day one, supporting my aspirations to play for England. I will be forever in their debt for all the hours they spent driving me up and down the country for training and matches as well as so many other things. They went above and beyond to help and support me, and still do today – even if it means them getting up at 1 am or 4 am to watch my games over in Australia! I am so lucky to have them.

Natalie Haythornthwaite and her family
Natalie Haythornthwaite with her parents.

What has netball taught you?

Netball has taught me a lot, life goes by pretty quickly nowadays, but when you take time to reflect and look back, I am so thankful for the life lessons. It has allowed me to develop the skills to work as part of a team, to be hardworking, to be resilient when in the face of adversity, to sometimes take a leap of faith and see where your journey may take you, and to trust the process – one step at a time. Many skills I’ve developed through netball are transferable into everyday life and life after netball.

If you weren’t a netballer, what would you do?

Sports wise – probably athletics, when I was younger netball and athletics were my two favourite sports. 

But I also went to University and got a degree in Linguistics & Phonetics, and then went on to study Speech Therapy – I loved it! So, one day, I hope to go back into that area helping patients recover and rehabilitate on the Stroke wards. 

What’s your favourite netball moment to date?

I feel like there have been many big netball moments I would love to re-live and I am super grateful for all of them; the first time winning the Netball Superleague in the UK with Wasps and then backing that up the year after. Winning the league out in Australia with the Swifts in 2019 has to be up there too, but I’m going to have to go with the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal match in 2018. Being part of that team was INCREDIBLE, and winning the gold medal was just an amazing feeling – I get goosebumps every time I talk about it, the feelings are so tactile still. 

Natalie Haythornthwaite netballer
Natalie Haythornthwaite and her family after the Commonwealth Games in 2018

Any pre-game superstitions you can’t drop?

I don’t really think I have any, or maybe I just don’t realise I do? Not quite superstitions I would say but I have a routine I quite like to go through on game day and it all starts with a good night’s sleep the night before!

And finally, what would you say to your ten-year-old self in relation to life goals and netball?

I would tell her to enjoy every moment, have fun playing the game and take more time to reflect and look back on how far she’s come. I’d tell myself “well done” more for making it through a big week of training and managing to get all my schoolwork done at the same time. Enjoy the game, trust the process and most importantly, be kind to yourself.

Follow Natalie on Instagram and keep up to date with her England Roses and NSW Swifts adventures.

Elite NetballAcademy

Meet Elite Netball Academy’s head coach and founder Anna Carter and coach Chloe Smith