You might not know that our ambassador, Superleague Player and International Netballer, Natalie Metcalf, started her netball career at Goal Attack. Although these days Natalie is more often found in a mid-court position, her love of netball started out in the Goal Attack position and it’s a position Natalie occasionally plays today for her club in the Netball Superleague. We wanted to find out how her journey started and get some tips on shooting techniques in netball. Over to you Nat…
Hey everyone, I’m back with another blog and I thought I would delve into shooting techniques in netball and tell you all a little more about my journey in netball.
As an Elite Netball Academy Ambassador, I get to travel around and see a lot of you at the High-Performance Centre Classes and Netball Camps during the school holidays. One thing I always get asked is, “can you look at my shot please?” and “what’s the role of a GS in netball?”
I absolutely love that I get asked these questions. It’s great to see athletes taking control of their journey and seeking advice on areas of their game they’re intrigued about or want to improve on.
However, one piece of advice may work for one individual, but not for another. For instance, if we’re focusing on shooting technique: one may have good height on their shot, but isn’t following through with the hand, whereas someone else may have the follow-through nailed but isn’t using their legs to get that power in the shot. So what I’m saying is, in my opinion, there isn’t a “one size fits all approach”. It takes time, and each individual may need a separate focus that they connect with.
Shooting techniques in netball
Shooting is a technique that is important to me and when it comes to ‘perfecting the shot’, I’ll be honest – I’m still working on mine – and I’m 30 years old!
In my opinion, anyone who plays a shooting position in netball is on a continuous journey throughout their playing career. As shooters, we constantly work on the consistency of the shot. Being a shooter is a huge commitment and a position where you can make a huge difference in a game.
We see it across other sports, scoring points in a team game is not only a physical skill that requires relentless practice but also a mental skill. Not only to put in the extra practice but also the control, belief and confidence it takes to go to post and be successful time and time again.
What are the shooting techniques in netball?
I think one of my biggest tips, (well it’s not actually a tip, more a reflection) is that you’ve got to have the passion to go to post every day. To get to training slightly earlier, stay slightly later and get some shots up. Especially as a youngster starting off in netball or at the point you decide you want to give this a proper go and see where the journey takes you. I was very motivated to get to post every day and put the time in. I believe that massively helped me and my netball journey.
A top tip I would give is to get to know your shooting technique inside out. More specifically, find out what your ‘magic element’ is in your shot. What is the most important part of your shot? Knowing this will help you in games. It might be that you need to make sure you follow through with your wrist, or it might be that you say a keyword to yourself for every shot. I know a few shooters say “lift” every time they shoot.
For me, it’s my ankles. If I’m stiff and not using what I like to call the “bounce” in my ankles, my shot tends to fall short. It’s as if everything goes right and then FREEZE, my ankles get stiff, so I don’t finish my shot properly and my shot falls short. With this in mind, I like to focus on my ankles and get the rhythmic bounce going to give me the power and accuracy in my shot.
So have a think, and decide what your ‘magic element’ is – focus on that, and own it!
Why you should shoot with one hand
So, like most of us, I grew up shooting with both hands and getting really comfortable with that. When my shot got changed by my coach and I learnt to shoot with one hand, at first I found it really uncomfortable. I couldn’t get the power, control or smoothness in my shot. I went through a tough period where I would practice my “new” technique at home, but at training and in games it took me a lot longer to feel confident to change from two hands to one.
These days if I try to shoot with two hands it feels really uncomfortable – funny hey!
You should shoot with one hand because it gives you more control over the ball. The second hand just acts as a “support” so to speak.
“Being able to shoot with one hand takes time to master…
And I genuinely believe this is because when you’re younger, your hands aren’t big enough to have the control needed to shoot with one hand. Building the strength to use one hand takes time. As you practice more, and get older and stronger you’ll find it easier to switch from two hands to one when shooting.”
How to shoot in netball
For me there are three key factors when it comes to how to shoot in netball:
Number one – legs
Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart, in line with one another with your toes pointing towards the post. The power for the shot comes from your legs.
In the down motion of the shot, we want to bend our knees and have stiff/bouncy ankles that spring up as we go into the upward motion of the shot to give us that power.
NUmber two – Arms
Start with your arms straight with your elbows next to your ears. Your dominant hand is underneath the ball, controlling the ball. Your other hand is on the side of the ball acting as a support – nothing else.
Ensure the hand underneath the ball has
the wrist facing towards the post. On the downward motion (just like with the knees), bend the elbows so that the ball stays above the top of your head, and on the upward motion extend the arms again.
Keep your wrist up straight and let the ball leave the dominant hand. You’re aiming for just above the ring, think “upside down J” trajectory). We need to follow through with the wrist and to help with this motion some people say it helps to imagine putting a birthday hat on someone’s head!
Number Three – Fluency
You want the above two factors to happen at the same
time. To begin with, break the shot into two parts, the downward motion and the upward motion.
On the down, everything happens at the same time, bending the knees as we bend the elbows.
On the upward motion, again, at the same time, extending knees/ankles, elbows/wrist. The more fluent and smooth our shot is, the better the muscle memory we are building and soon your body will start to remember the motion and movements of the shooting technique.
Netball shooting drills
There are two drills I absolutely love doing, one when I’m on my own and one when I’m with my teammates.
Netball shooting drill one – Lineouts
Shoot five in a row starting off close to the post, everytime you get one in, take a step back so the last shot is almost at the edge of the circle. If you miss a shot, you start the line again.
Make it harder by working five different lines, baseline left, 45 left, straight on, 45 right and baseline right. I love to do this one because when I complete it, I feel very happy! It’s a simple way to build pressure, patience, accuracy and volume into your shooting practice. It also gets you practising from pretty much everywhere in the circle! There have been days when I’ve completed the drill in five minutes and other days where it’s taken me nearly an hour!
Netball shooting drill two – shooting competitions
If I have people with me I love to do shooting competitions! Whether it’s ‘follow the leader’ and you see how many you can score as a partnership, or put some cones down and the first person to score from every cone wins.
Partner drills build competitiveness within the shooting game, as well as getting you used to shooting under pressure, and under time restraints.
download our netball shooting program to improve accuracy and practice shooting under fatigue
Download Shooting Program
The role of the GS in netball
The GS is usually the shooter who has the highest volume of shots in a game.
Sometimes the GS will share the load with their GA depending on the game plan. For example, you may see a more even shooting load with a rotational moving circle compared to a holding GS and a GA who likes to play out in front.
The role of the GS in netball can be broken down into four areas:
TARGET – as a WA, every time I have the ball, I want to turn and see the GS threatening the post and demanding the ball.
AVAILABLE – when the ball is in the final third, at any opportunity, they should be available to take the ball, whether it’s on or off the circle edge.
STRONG HANDS – as the ball is coming in, it’s likely there are defenders ready to challenge the catch, so strong hands are needed to pull that ball in!
COMMUNICATOR – at the end of the day, you’re scoring the goals that will help the team win. We need to get the ball to the GS. So if it’s a bad pass, or you come off the hold too early communicate it with your teammates, building relationships is key.
The role of the GA in netball
Now we may have differing opinions on this one, I see the role of a GA in netball as a playmaker. They’re helping to open up the GS. Feeding the GS from anywhere, whilst also taking on the drives in the circle and turning to post to share that shooting load with the GS.
GA is one of the most fun positions to play! You get the best of both worlds: feeding and shooting! There is also a crucial workload on the GA during Centre Passes (CP) so in training, a GA should also practice shooting under fatigue. They need to have a strong relationship with the WA and C in order to work together to take the ball from CP to goal effortlessly.
Where my netball shooting journey began
Okay, so for me as a youngster starting out (I’m talking from the age of about 10) I LOVED playing GA. My parents realised how obsessed I was so they put up a post in our back garden at home. I would be out there pretty much every day, shooting 200 shots. A lot of the time it was just me and the post, but I was also very grateful for mum, dad and my sisters helping out. Whether it was getting the rebounds, holding a broomstick up as the “defender”, or nudging me whilst I took a shot.
I’ll be honest, there were times when I didn’t feel up to it or felt like I needed a night off, and it’s key to remember that taking a break is OK. I remember one evening specifically, it was snowing, and the ball wouldn’t go through the ring because of the amount of snow that was gathering on the ring. However, yet again my support network made the difference and helped me – I will be forever grateful for that because for me it helped mentally, knowing I had practiced under tough conditions, I felt confident to go to post and knew I could deal with whatever was thrown my way in a match.
“A lot of the time it was just me and the post but I was also very grateful when mum, dad and my sisters helped out!”
My netball journey
For me, shooting practice and shooting drills have changed a lot during my career. When I was younger we had flagstones in the back garden, I started off shooting 10 shots on each flagstone. There were 20 flagstones so that meant 200 shots.
Then as I got older, netball shooting programmes started to appear so I’d follow a weekly shooting programme from my club. It would have a huge range of things on it – baseline shots, change of timing shots, step left, step right, eyes closed, shots in a row, line-outs – you name it, I probably did it!
Then shooting under fatigue became a new focus. For me, that was big, as I was most likely playing GA (I rarely played GS) so shooting under fatigue was something I would do a lot. Whether that be incorporating skipping with my shooting sessions at home, or getting some time at the post in drinks breaks when at training. All these various shooting aspects have helped me and my shot!
THEN AND NOW
From practising rigorously as a kid to now, not much has changed. I spend a lot of my time outside the circle these days and play more of a mid-court role which I love. However, I’ve always held on to the GA role – I love shooting too much not to. I still have a post in my back garden but now I do the majority of my shooting at training and around sessions. One piece of advice that I would tell my younger self (and actually my 30-year-old self too!) would be to ride the wave with your shot.
My shooting journey has definitely had dips – I’ve struggled with my accuracy, self-belief, and action of the shot, but I still went to post and put in the practice. All this means I still love to shoot now. Celebrate the games where you have a ‘hot hand’ and can literally sink them from anywhere and reflect on the days when your shot might not feel as good, and see if your ‘magic element’ was there or not.
three netball shooters to watch
If you’re looking to pick up shooting techniques in netball watching players in the SSN, ANZ and SL will help you perfect the shot. Three players I love to watch across those leagues are:
SSN – Jo Harten
ANZ – Ameliaranne Ekenasio
SL – Niamh McCall
So there you have it, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog on shooting techniques in netball.
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