What does a captain do in netball?

What does a captain do in netball?

If you’re voted by your teammates or chosen by your coaches to be the captain of your netball team, you should take this as a huge honour. Never take for granted that people have seen something in you to lead the team. 

We sat down with Superleague captain and Elite Performance Coach Consultant Nat Panagarry to find out what a captain does in netball, what makes a good captain, the skills required plus when you can approach an umpire during a game.

If you make team captain, you should be proud of yourself! Enjoy the opportunity and your new role within the team. You’ve made captain, now what? Let’s look at what makes a good netball captain.

I strongly believe a netball captain should lead by example. Whatever your club or team’s standards are, always try your best to set the standard at training or in games.

Try to set an example for your team to follow, turning up to training early, working hard in matches, never giving up etc. But remember, being captain doesn’t mean you have to be perfect! You will have good and bad days at training or in games, it’s how you bounce back from mistakes that is important.

Lean into your teammates or coaches and use them as support so they know they can count on you too. 

What Does a Captain do in Netball?

All netball captains have different styles and ways of doing things, you need to find out what yours is. 

Some netball captains lead through communication and being vocal for the team. Encouraging but also when necessary, pushing the team to be better.

Other netball captains lead by example and their actions on the court. Either way, remain true to your communication style and don’t try to be someone you’re not.

Figuring out your leadership skills and style can take time. During my first few years as a Superleague captain, I did too much. I tried to be the perfect teammate all the time. I was vocal and constantly shouting encouragement or demanding more from myself and those around me.

I realised that this wasn’t possible or sustainable for me as a person. The pressure to be the perfect captain affected my performance on the netball court.

Naturally, I’m a very vocal person. I like to shout and encourage players during a game. However, the team’s voice matters too. Every person in the squad has a role to play and some of the best captains are the ones who make sure everyone in the team feels they can contribute. 

Whether you’re the most experienced player in the team, the newest player, a starting 7 player or a bench player – you have a voice and an opinion. A good netball captain will ensure their teammates feel they can come forward and voice their opinions in a safe space. 

Listen to Tracey Neville discussing Eleanor Cardwell’s leadership on and off the court on Fox Netball.

Just because you are the captain, you don’t have to do it all. There will be other players in the squad who are natural leaders too. Make sure you use them and create a positive culture for everyone in the team to feel valued. 

A pre-game warm-up is a great example of ways other players can help you. Drills can be led by other players and you could ask another team member to take the team huddles. Create an environment for everyone to lead in their way. 

What Does a Captain do in Netball?

Netball captain duties include building a strong relationship with the coaches and the wider team. You are the link between the staff and team players. You will be the one who puts forward any concerns or changes the playing group want to make.

As a captain, your duty is to be honest with your teammates. Sometimes things can be changed as a playing group without the need to inform the coaching team. Work out what pieces of information need to be put forward and what you can work on separately.

  • Making sure the team are courtside on time 
  • Team talks
  • Leading the warm-up and group drills
  • Coin toss
  • Speaking to the umpires
  • Pre, during and post-match interviews/media
  • Post-match recovery
  • Ensuring your team interact with supporters 

On game day, one of the main roles as captain is being able to communicate with umpires.

You can ask questions pre-game. For example, rules you need more clarity on before the first centre pass.

During the game, you can also approach umpires between the quarters for clarity on decisions or highlight any behaviours you feel are happening consistently on the court. 

Below are examples of when the captain might approach an umpire at quarter time to discuss behaviour on the court:

  1. Your GK keeps getting pulled for obstruction. Approach the umpire and ask for clarity on what they’re seeing, is it her arm coming around her player or is it her leg? 
  2. You need information on a rule, for example, if a player is sent off for 2 minutes what happens afterwards? Are they still on a warning when they come back on, can they still challenge for the ball if they are a defender?

Do not forget that netball umpires have a hard job. They’re trying to watch every detail on the court and netball is a fast-moving game, so naturally, things can be missed. There could be moments when your team feel hard done by with calls. The best teams and players I’ve ever watched are the ones who don’t react to decisions, staying in the game and moment – getting back on defence or attack quickly. 

To this day, this is something I’m still working on as a player and captain. Emotions are high on a netball court, fine margins matter and can determine the course of a game, especially in close games.

As a captain, the way you handle your emotions and represent yourself is important. Can you use breathing techniques to stay calm and in the moment?

Letting too many emotions build up as a player can affect your performance. It’s important you can manage yourself and move on quickly, not just for yourself, but your teammates. 

Thank you for reading my blog on what does a captain do in netball! My final point to all netball captains out there, enjoy the role! Enjoy the responsibilities and the feeling that people have seen something in you to lead a group. You don’t have to be perfect. We are all constantly learning and trying to be better each day. 

What Does a Captain do in Netball?

Nat is a Superleague captain and has, to date, won the Grand Final twice with her team.

Nat is also a Performance Coach Consultant at Elite Netball Academy and works with our players in weekly academy classes and at camps to improve performance on and off the court.

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