Natalie Panagarry

Natalie Panagarry on life outside of netball

Here at Elite Netball Academy we live and breathe netball. When we’re not training or playing we’re thinking about it, how to get faster, stronger, better. It is, however, important to have interests outside of the sport we know and love. To keep perspective and to keep us fresh so we can perform to our best ability. Recently, we asked ENA Ambassador and Vitality Superleague winning captain for Loughborough Lightning, Natalie Panagarry, what she gets up to outside of netball.

Life outside of netball

Natalie and her dog on the beach
Natalie Panagarry and her dog Louis at the beach

Outside of netball, I’ve always been someone who likes to be busy and organised. As a netballer, you know what it’s like, you’ve always got a calendar to live from with tournament dates, fixtures on the weekends and training mid-week to keep you busy. It can be very hectic, juggling school or college as well as netball, and if we’re honest, it can get pretty overwhelming at times. 

At school, it always felt like I was travelling up and down the country for netball, this was on top of travelling 30 minutes to school each day. Trying to balance all my commitments took time and lots of learning. 

My main bit of advice for when things start to feel overwhelming is to speak to the people around you. Family, teachers, coaches and friends – use whatever support system you have. Sometimes it may mean that one thing has to take priority for a little while and that decision can come from you being open about how you feel. During my A levels, I remember having to slow down with netball, to take some time to really focus on school for a moment. My love for the game actually sparked back as I was missing it so much, it helped me appreciate how much I enjoyed it.

You might also like to read, how Natalie and her Loughborough Lightning teammates prepared for the Vitality Superleague Final.

Why rest and relaxation are so important

As I’ve got older, I’ve also realised that finding time for you and having hobbies outside of netball are massively important. Growing up I used to be at netball and school that’s all I thought I could do, but now I’ve realised spending time with family and friends helps my mental health.

Now I make sure I have a good balance. This includes spending time with my partner, going for a dog walk, talking with friends over a brunch date, having Sunday dinner with my family. These little moments make me feel more content and keep me grounded.

Natalie Panagarry
Natalie playing for the England Roses

I have to be super organised with my diary to make sure I can find time for these things, but these moments where I can relax are now a huge priority. I’ve noticed the more balance I have in my life, having these things away from netball, has actually improved my performance on the court. 

I now strongly believe, that if I don’t have time for myself, my netball will start to suffer as that’s what helps me stay more relaxed. Netball can be a stressful environment, especially now it’s seen as a professional sport. You always want to perform, put your best foot forward and train as hard as you can. But sometimes a relaxing day, watching movies, going for a nice meal or just having a bath can help your body and mind relax. I have to say when I relax more I notice a positive difference that week in my training. 

How can I improve my netball / life balance?

Just keep reminding yourself your well-being off the court is a factor that could affect your performance on the court. 

Keep finding and searching for the little things that make you happy, no matter what they are find the time to do them. Make sure they are a priority in your life as well as your netball training. 

We all enjoy netball, we love the sport and we want to be the best we can be. Physically we are constantly pushing our bodies, minds and our limits. But, we also need to make sure, as athletes, we look after our mental health – everyone is different in how they approach things and how they manage themselves. Keeping making it just as much a priority as your game. You’ll start to reap the rewards soon enough.

Natalie xx

Follow Natalie on Instagram

The header image shown was taken by Morgan Harlow Photography.

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