Elite Netball’s reflection on 2020 and looking ahead to 2021

It’s fair to say 2020 was the year none of us thought it would be. We spent more time at home than ever before, homeschooling, making banana bread, and logging on to zoom more times than your great aunt Ethel has knitted scarves, and for Elite Netball Academy it was a year we will never forget.

A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there.

Since our launch in June 2020, we’ve had an incredible amount of support from our members, venues, clubs, parents and friends and to every single one of you who has trusted us to help develop your young athletes – thank you so much! Netball is our passion, it’s why we get out of bed in the morning and it keeps us endlessly driving to improve, to find ways to be better, stronger, smarter. We’re dedicated to this sport and the enthusiastic young athletes who share our passion for it. Despite everything that has been thrown our way, this year we have managed to build a robust athlete coaching program and have expanded our offering to include mental health support to young athletes, as well as health and diet advice.

It’s hard to believe we’re not even a year old and when we look back at the last six months, we’re incredibly proud of everything all the young Elite Netball Academy athletes have achieved. You have all given 100% at every training session or camp, and for that we thank you. To work with a group of enthusiastic people day in and day out is a privilege and something we’re very grateful for.

Looking ahead to 2021 with Elite Netball Academy

Natalie Haythornthwaite

A few months ago, we welcomed Natalie Haythornthwaite to Elite Netball Academy as a Brand Ambassador. Natalie has won Commonwealth gold and a World Cup Bronze for the England Roses as well the Suncorp Grand Final with the NSW Swifts, her current team down under. Before heading to Australia Natalie was a two-time winner of the NSL with Wasps. We have been working with Natalie to give athletes bespoke opportunities both online and in-person to develop individual skills with our first-ever Athlete Mentoring Programme. Response to the program was fantastic so this is something we’ll be offering more of in the future. We’re so excited to have Natalie on board to share her experience and knowledge of the game.

Follow Natalie on Instagram.

Beth Cobden

We also welcome to the team the fabulous Beth Cobden. A central court player for Loughborough Lightning, Beth made her international debut for England in 2016 at wing defence. After a spell at Manchester Thunder and Loughborough Lightning, Beth moved to Australia for a year to play for Adelaide Thunderbirds. She’s now back in the UK with Loughborough and will be helping Elite Netball Academy Athletes on our mentoring program as well as co-hosting a coach and player education series.

Follow Beth on Instagram.

Natalie Panagarry

Another recent addition to the coaching and mentor team is Loughborough Lightning and England Roses centre court player Natalie Panagarry. Nat’s passion and energy for netball mean her coaching sessions are sure to be full of fun with lots of innovative ideas for our athletes to put into practice. Nat will be working with our athletes during lockdown delivering some online sessions and once we can get back to holding camps in person, Nat will be a regular face there, and we can’t wait to introduce more of you to her.

Follow Nat on Instagram.

Keep those eyes peeled on our social media channels for more exciting announcements in the coming weeks…

Lockdown Support

As we find ourselves in lockdown #3, we wanted to assure our members and fans that there are lots of things planned to keep you busy and healthy. Our High-Performance programme continues remotely with full online support for all of the athletes involved. There will also be live Facebook sessions and family quizzes so our members of all ages can get involved.

Here’s an idea of what you can expect over the next six weeks:

Week commencing 18th January – Attack the situation

HITT sessions focused on attacking angles

Yoga – Focus on strong powerful movements

Sport Psychology – Control the situation don’t let it control you

Week commencing 25th January – Defend the negativity

HITT session defence footwork


Yoga – Knees and ankles – where netball players get the most impact

Anna – Theory session on defence partnerships throughout the court

Week commencing 1st February – United we stand

HITT session feeling free with attack work

Yoga – Focuses on upper body focus, particular on our backs and shoulders where we carry stress and tension

ENA and Guest coaches lock down unit focuses – shooters, middies, circle defence – theory based learning on key factors in units

Week commencing 8th February – Knowing me knowing you

HITT session based around quickness of feet around players and challenges

Yoga – Focus on the core and knowing how to engage it and work it to its potential

Sport Psychology – Knowing when you are at your best and at your worse and what you need to implement

Week commencing 15th February – Challenge accepted

HITT session – interception work and recovery


Yoga – Further work on core plus some challenges for you to take away.

Email us for more information on these activities and how you can get involved as we survive another lockdown, more homeschooling, and yet more banana bread!

Thank you for your support so far, and our commitment to 2021 – to find the time to check out, to check-in, and be aware of our needs.

Repeat after me – working on yourself is not selfish – you can’t pour from an empty cup.