Over the weekend I wrapped up a week with the Victorian 19 & Under team at the National Netball Championships.

Not everyone aspires to coach at the national level, but for those who do or think they might one day (or are just interested in what goes into a campaign like this!), I thought I’d share some of that journey with you.


I looked at our nationals training schedule yesterday and coincidentally it was exactly six months to the day that we held our first selection session.

Six months of Friday evening and Sunday morning training sessions….no wonder I’m unpopular at home.

There was a coaching application and interview process prior to this, so it’s certainly a very long timeframe and commitment for all coaches and athletes involved.


I guess you could say it’s one month of training for each day of the six-day tournament, so you can see why it means so much to teams who achieve success on the final day of the event.

All told, we completed around 20 on-court training sessions with our squad, which included everything you might expect – regular court training, specialist positional work, fitness testing and conditioning.

It also included a weekend in Hobart for practice matches against the Tasmanian state team, as well as a simulation weekend to mimic the way in which players need to ‘back up’ multiple games in one day at Nationals.


Being in our home state, this year’s travel was certainly easier than last year’s trip to Darwin.

Players and staff met at the stadium on the day prior to the competition and completed a ‘captain’s run’, which is essentially one last short training session to get the legs moving and get accustomed to the court and the surrounds.

The tournament itself consists of seven 40-minute round robin games against the other states over four days – most days feature two games for each team – a game around lunchtime followed by an evening game.

It’s an enormous amount of netball considering the quality and physicality of the competition – there are no easy days, and the team physiotherapists are non-stop the entire week keeping the players going.

Consider also that each game is much more than just a 40-minute period – there’s a team meeting around 90 minutes before game time, the team’s arrival at the courts 60 minutes before the first whistle, plus a warm-up, cooldown and debrief before heading back to the accommodation for recovery. You quickly find there are very few minutes not accounted for throughout each day, and you’re never not ‘on the go’.


Until you’re in it, it’s hard to imagine just how intense a Nationals week is.

For us coaches, the games themselves are arguably the easiest part. The bulk of the work happens in the hours before and after each game, with a ton of preparation and analysis of our previous game and next opponent.

We’re lucky to have a performance analyst with our team, which makes this process much quicker than it would otherwise be, as shortly after each game the PA is ready for us with a video playlist of every centre pass and turnover.

Given we also analyse our next opponent’s game, this process still takes quite a bit of time even with a streamlined video process – while our players are resting in the afternoon we’re bunkered down in our hotel room ploughing through footage or prepping strategies for our next contest. And when the players have long since gone to bed in the evenings after a late game, we’ll still be up as midnight approaches, getting ready for the next day.

We also have to plan (and often adjust) the team’s daily schedule, player massage/treatment times, individual player catch-ups and team activities so the players know exactly what and where they’re required throughout the entire week.

It’s all a part of the gig, and that’s without factoring in the million little challenges that inevitably crop up throughout a week like this.


Why would anyone sign up for it?

There are few things more rewarding than being able to work with a group of very talented athletes towards a singular goal, while trying to give them the best chance of achieving something special together. There’s also the challenge of trying to help players reach their individual gals, as the Nationals process also includes the selection of the Australian under-age squads.

It’s a privilege and something none of us take lightly.

But now it’s time for a nap.


  1. Absolute dedication, commitment, time and effort but I presume win or no win, nothing short of exhilarating and rewarding. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule and personal lives to help the girls grow , develop and flourish. From net set go to state coach, our girls owe so much to their coaches and you are never forgotten.

    Congratulations on a wonderful tournament.

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