Natalie Haythornthwaite

Natalie Metcalf on the England Roses Quad Series

In this month’s blog, we hear from International netballer, Superleague Player and Elite Netball Academy Ambassador Natalie Metcalf. A lot has happened since we last heard from Nat, she’s now married (congratulations!) and has moved back to the UK after a couple of years Downunder with the New South Wales Swifts. Nat played every match in the recent Quad Series so we’re buzzing to find out about her favourite moments, what a typical day on camp looks like and also what she’s been up to since the final whistle blew.

“Hey everyone, Nat here…it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, so thought I’d check in with you guys and give you a little insight into my most recent experience of International Netball – the Quad Series!

We made the final!

Although we didn’t come away with the series win, there were so many positives to take away and lots of lessons were learnt on the journey too! Firstly, we made our first ever Quad Series final (yes, I know it was the first Quad final!), but still, I think making a final in anything is HUGE, so to make that final and have the opportunity for the team to play some finals netty was so exciting!

Here’s a little summary of some of the things that came to mind when reflecting on the Quad series:

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Natalie with England teammates Laura Malcolm and Eleanor Cardwell

Favourite Quad Series Moment

Being with the team – this may sound cheesy, but as fellow netballer’s reading this, I think you’re on the same page as me when it comes to team sports, there’s something special about the team being together and competing alongside one another. I absolutely LOVE playing for England and working hard alongside an amazing group of talented, funny, “team-first approach” athletes.

Another favourite moment I have to mention was having fans back in the arena – WOW! The atmosphere was amazing, we’d really missed fans throughout 2020/21 so to have the arena filled with fans again was just incredible! A huge thank you to everyone who came to support us!

Netball Training Thoughts

We had a little pre-camp before officially starting our Quad Series journey. We had a four-day camp in Loughborough and then headed down to London to join the Quad Series bubble. It was great to see everyone after Christmas, but we pretty much got straight into things as time was tight and we had a good amount of prep to do ahead of the games. I really enjoyed training with the group, a great balance of what I like to call “thinking netball sessions” and “turbo sessions” (sessions that get the heart rate up).

Having a good balance of the two allows learning and growth, and then you have the opportunity to put all your learnings into practice during the sessions that get the heart rate up.

Biggest Challenge of the Quad Series

For me, the biggest challenge of the series was, yet again, COVID (which I know has been challenging day-to-day for many of us!). The team and the team behind the team, did an incredible job to ensure the series could go ahead as safely and smoothly as possible. We had lots of protocols in place and rules to adhere to in order to keep everyone safe. I was so proud of everyone for just getting on with it and doing what we needed to do in order for the netball matches to go ahead.

Day-to-Day Life in the squad

With all the protocols in place, we were pretty restricted in what we could do in the bubble. A typical training day would consist of waking up and doing a lateral flow test (before we left our rooms) once the result was in we’d send it on to our team manager. Then we’d do our hydration test – essentially a test to see how hydrated we are, and then once that’s all documented it was breakfast time! Once we were fuelled for the day it would be off to the courts, strap our ankles and start prehab. Then for anyone who kept up with the series on social media, you may know our team mascot Burt – the big yellow ball! Well, in this series we also had Bertha, and she came everywhere with us! So before any netball training would start, we’d have a quick game of ‘headers’ (like in the football – yep!) with Burt and Bertha.

Post-training we’d have our recovery snacks (for me that was a protein recovery shake) and then back to the hotel for lunch. After lunch, the days may consist of performance analysis (analysing the opposition and building a game plan), weights, off-feet conditioning (bike session) or rest and recovery. For me, this would look like getting on the recovery boots or having a good old stretch.

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Natalie playing for her Superleague side

What’s Next

Well after the Quad Series we had a good few days of downtime to recover and reflect on the learnings and successes. I was super grateful for that time and I really am a big believer in taking time to reflect on what has been achieved – as I’ve said in a previous blog, I’ve been guilty at times for thinking ‘what’s next, what’s happening next‘. So taking time to reflect has been a good process for me to go through – to slow me down a little and take note of the learnings from the series.

I’m back with my Superleague club now and I’m so looking forward to playing my netty in the UK this season. With me being back here this year I’m hoping that means I will have more time to meet lots more of the Elite Netball family too!

Big love,

Natalie xx

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