netball fitness

How fit do you have to be to play netball?

This question very much depends on the level you are playing at. For those wanting to reach higher levels of the sport and play competitively for a local club, county or even country, a high level of fitness will be required and here at Elite Netball Academy we know just how important this is.

A player’s physical development is based upon a foundation of fundamental movement skill and mobility development. We spend a lot of time at Elite Netball Academy developing a generic physical base for all athletes such as movement skills (e.g. locomotor, stability and object control), sport-specific skills, mobility, agility, speed, power, strength, hypertrophy, endurance and metabolic conditioning with an emphasis on age and stage of development. The body must be built on strong foundations

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To ensure strong foundations, we’ve teamed up with Danny Speirs from Speirs Performance to ensure our athletes are prepared as well as they can be for the demands placed on their bodies during training and gameplay.

In this blog, we meet Danny, find out about his background in sport as well as look at how he will be working with Elite Netball Academy’s High-Performance Centre athletes.

Tell us about your sporting background

“Following the completion of an undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Sciences, I decided that I wanted to specialise in strength and conditioning. During my Master’s degree, I was privileged to work with Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Beckett University rugby, hockey, and netball teams.

Since graduating I have worked with Leeds Rhinos Women, Leeds Rhinos Netball, MMA fighters, professional golfers, and everyday athletes.”

netball fit
Danny Speirs from Speirs Performance

Do you play sport yourself?

“I play football at an average level as well as golf (at a below-average level!). I have recently also taken up road cycling.”

Why did you set up Speirs Performance?

“Following my university years, I decided to take a plunge into self-employment which opened up multiple doors with the teams and athletes I previously mentioned. From there I wanted to grow it, to make it bigger than just ‘myself’. Since then, we have built an online performance brand/branch for rugby union that has worked with athletes all over the world (this is Parfournen). Moving forwards, I hope to scale that up alongside further work with other academies and sports organisations.”

How will you work with Elite Netball Academy athletes?

“We will be working with the netball athletes virtually and in person. Our aim is to provide the ENA coaches with the structure, framework, and development they need to ensure the athletes not only get the best standard of coaching, but also the optimal dose of the correct physical training. Additionally, we will be conducting performance testing with the athletes, providing full feedback, and analysis that will lead to individualised programming.”

netball fit
Natalie Haythornthwaite with Elite Netball Academy players

Why strength and conditioning is important for netball players?

“Netball is a high-intensity sport. Multiple changes of direction, accelerations, abrupt decelerations, jumping, landing, and overall volume of running. Taking all of that into consideration the first priority of any strength and conditioning plan for an athlete is to reduce the risk of injury. We want to make robust athletes who can handle the physical demands of the sport. From there we look to how we can exceed those demands. A fitter, faster, stronger netballer is a better netballer.”

How do strength and conditioning, the right nutrition and rest go hand in hand?

“The best physical performance programme and coaching in the world is nothing without the correct rest and recovery. The foundation of that is nutrition and sleep. Before we jump for the foam roller or the Theragun it is vital that we master the basics in rest and nutrition.”

Why goal setting and having a plan is important with strength and conditioning

“Firstly, if we don’t know where we’re going, how do we know the way of getting there? Secondly, a plan enables us to gradually increase our load as well as change exercises when needed. This is what leads to adaptation and performance improvements.”

Why is it important to gradually increase load in the gym

“As previously mentioned, the body is smart. It needs new stimuli to put the body under stress that then leads to adaptation. We do this by gradually increasing the total load and adapting exercise selection. However, every single one of us is made up very differently and need to focus on specific areas (this is why we complete fitness testing and develop an individual plan for each athlete). We can tackle any weaknesses, continue to improve strengths, become better athletes, and reduce the risk of injury this way.”

Click here to find out more about Speirs Performance.

Want to know more about how the Elite Netball Academy helps netball athletes reach their potential?

Looking for netball classes in Leeds? We’re the regions number one provider of netball classes and camps – find out more here.

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