how to prepare for trials

How to prepare for Netball Trials with Nat Panagarry

It’s that time of year again. Netball trials.

For many, netball trials are a nervous time. Our ambitions for the season ahead are on the line and the outcome of trials can set the tone for the rest of the season.

To help you prepare for upcoming trials, we asked our Performance Coach Consultant, two-time Superleague winner and former international player Nat Panagarry for her advice on how to prepare for netball trials.

What is the purpose of a netball trial?

Selectors are looking for athletes with good basic skills, a good attitude and someone who is able to respond positively to direction.

Whether you are trialling for Elite Netball Academy, a netball club, county or pathways programmes, selectors want players they can coach to be a better, stronger and more skilful athlete.

It’s important to remember that selectors are not trying to trip up players or find holes at trials. Trials are a chance for coaches to make sure every athlete has an equal opportunity to be seen and given the chance to perform under selectors’ noses. 

They’re trying to create a level playing field and find the right players for their squad.

how to prepare for netball trials

What do they look for at netball trials

In my experience selectors at netball trials are looking for four things.

Good team players. Players who are brave on the court, showing the ability to challenge the ball in defence, offer a variety of feeds in attack. In shooters, selectors will be looking for players who aren’t afraid to turn to the post and shoot from any distance.

Players who have good basic skills in the game. This doesn’t mean you need to possess every skill under the sun. Showing a variety of passing and release points as well as the ability to mix up when and how you use these skills will show variety.

Players who stay positive. Sometimes, netball games don’t always go to plan, with this in mind selectors will be looking for players who don’t drop their head in negative situations. They’ll be looking instead for players who can adjust to what’s happening on the court and mix up the play to create a different outcome

The ability to communicate. Selectors like seeing players who have good communication skills with their teammates. Even if you don’t know the other players on the court, be encouraging and positive. Applaud interceptions, strong takes, good attacking moves and communicate with those directly around you when you get a chance.

The thing to remember is that a netball trial is as much a test of your mental strength as it is of your physical. It’s a chance for the coaches to see how you can handle pressure situations and how you cope with a new environment. 

How to be seen on court

Each coach is different and will be looking for different attributes they want to see in a player.

My best advice here would be to concentrate when the coaches are talking. Some will be direct in telling you what they want to see, and the way others set up drills and match play could tell you what they’re looking for.

Ask questions if you want to get more clarity and show them how committed you are as a player. Show them you want to understand the technical side of the game too.

If a position hasn’t been filled on the court and it’s in your court area – put your hand up to play it. This shows the coaches you have a desire to play and the more time you spend on the court, the better!

If you manage to get one or two unbelievable moments on the court (a flying intercept or a shot from the circle edge for example) these are commendable moments but don’t forget the steady player who works well with others and quietly goes about their business showing good netball also goes noticed.

So, if the unbelievable moments evade you at netball trials, try not to get frustrated. Keep doing your job, offering in attack and backing up in defence. Play to the best of your ability. 

How to deal with nerves at netball trials  

Netball trials can bring out a huge range of emotions – apprehension, nervousness and an eagerness to do well.

If the nerves start jangling, try to focus on the match play or think about the skills that you could be put through on the day.

In advance, write down all the positives you bring as a player and what you look like when you play well on the court. Reflect on how this makes you feel too.

Plan how you will react if you make an error on the court. Have a strategy so the error doesn’t consume you. Being able to move on, breathe and keep reminding yourself of your strengths is a good place to start.

How to prepare for netball trials

If you know netball trials are coming up, you can work on physical attributes that you think you may need to improve.

If you need to work on fitness, do some running sessions or speed and agility.

how to prepare for netball trials

Get Nat’s top tips for netball fitness – read more here

Ball handling you can do some passing skills at home using a wall or look at attending netball camps over the summer just to keep improving your skills and hand-eye coordination. 

The night before trials I like to be organised so on the day I can focus:

  • Make sure you have a high-carb and protein dinner.
  • Prepare snacks to take with you (bananas with peanut butter, nuts, cereal bars, Lucozade drinks and energy gels). 
  • Read any information you may have been given from the coaches. 
  • Get out your training kit and pack your bag with any extra equipment you might need to warmup or cool down with (foam roller, bands or your netball). 
  • Shooters who have a post at home might want to put up some shots to get their eye in. Mid court or defence may want to do some ball handling against a wall or with a family member. Nothing heavy just something to prepare you for the next day, keep the nerves at bay and help you feel prepared.
  • Try to get an early night. You may have adrenaline but the more sleep and rest you can get the better you’ll feel. 

Want some nutrition top tips?

Read Natalie Metcalf’s advice on what to eat before a netball game

3 things to do on the day of trials

Make sure you have a high-carb and protein breakfast. My favourite on game day is eggs on toast with avocado followed by some yogurt with fruit. 

Arrive at the trial location 10 mins before the registration time so you’re not late. This also avoids adding more stress to your day. 

Remember to fill up any empty positions, have your number displayed clearly and always listen to the coaches when they are speaking.

What should I do after netball trials?

If you want some feedback from the coaches, make sure you ask before leaving. Sometimes coaches have over 300 players to watch in one day so won’t be able to provide feedback in written form. However, on the day they may be able to give you some quick points to you. It’s also another opportunity to show how invested you are in the process.

A coach once told me to make notes on the areas I thought I did well in and the areas where I could have done better. So whether you’re successful this time around or not, next time there’s a trial opportunity you can refer to your reflections and see how you could improve. 

Lastly and most importantly – try to have fun! This is a chance to push out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and experience match play with a different group of players.

Isn’t that why we love netball – playing games with strong players is the best bit

So, breathe, relax and go show them what you can do. Good luck!

Nat P 

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