The question of how to defend a tall goaler shooter on a netball court is one that we hear netball coaches asking every single week.
We’ve all come up against those teams that have a goaler who towers over everyone else and is all but unstoppable if they’re allowed to do their thing for an entire game.
So how to defend them?
There are lots of strategies and technique defenders can use to defend a tall goal shooter or disrupt their influence, but here are four to work on with your players, as well as drills you can employ to practice them at training!
STAY OFF THE BODY
If the goaler has a strong hold and your defender is stuck on the body, 90% of the time it’s likely game over.
Wanting to be on the body is understandable, as it makes the defender feel as though they’re covering their opponent. But it also means the goal shooter has a very clear and defined space into which their team mates can pass the ball, and it limits the defenders ability to jump and contest the ball.
Staying a foot or two off the body gives the defender room to move their feet and have a proper jump at the intercept – getting “back and up”, as we say.
It’s amazing how often midcourters also miscue their pass and leave it short, simply because the defender is able to get back and eat up some of that space after the ball is released.
DRILL: TECHNIQUE FOR LOB INTERCEPTS
WORK YOUR FEET AND CONFUSE THE SPACE
Staying off the body is one thing – the next step is for the defender to continuously work their feet and change their position around the goaler’s body.
The moment the shooter starts to get set on a hold and give the feeders a clear option, the defender needs to adjust again to cover that space and put doubt in the feeders’ minds.
One of the most dominant positions for a holding goaler is when they have a clear, undefended shoulder, as it makes it very clear for the feeders where the ball needs to go. So get your defenders to practice “covering the shoulder” – constantly working to make sure the goaler never gets a shoulder clear and open.
TEAM MATES’ RESPONSIBILITY, TOO
There are few things worse as a goal keeper than having the ball coming down the court at lightning speed, given you almost no time to work your magic.
Defending a tall shooter starts with every other player on the team doing their bit to slow the ball down and force the opposition out of the prime feeding positions, and putting pressure on their passes.
In most cases, this means centres, wing defences and goal defences working hard one on one to push their opponent wide in the court and deny them the middle channel.
It also means everyone having strong hands over the ball, to make sure that any feeds are forced higher and loopier to give the goal keeper a better chance at having a crack.
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES ELSEWHERE
If the opposition has a goal shooter who almost exclusively stands under the post, their movement (or lack of it) is one less thing your defenders need to worry about. And it leaves the shooter’s three attacking team mates to bring the ball to the circle on their own.
Given the goal keeper knows exactly where the GS is going to be, it creates opportunities for them to try intercept some balls as the opposition brings the ball down the court.
It’s about training your players to keep their eyes up and look for opposition attacking players who are making long leads down the court that will attract attract long, loopy passes.
Having the courage and technique to have a go at these balls is important, too, and doesn’t come naturally to a lot of players. It takes a lot of practice at training, so put the time into it with your defenders!