Netball is more physically demanding and competitive than ever before. And the best teams play the game at pace. Strength is a fundamental component of speed. Basically, the harder you push into the court beneath you (i.e. the more force you can produce), the faster you will move forward or up into the air. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Yip, that’s right all you science geeks out there, Newton’s 3rd law. The stronger you are, the better you’ll be.

Lunge exercises train strength. And the stronger you are at lunging, the more force you will produce. Therefore, it makes sense to include lunges in your training. But don’t just do them. To continuously get better you need to focus on doing more over time and increasing the weight you’re lunging. The result? Increased strength and therefore, speed.

It’s not as simple as it sounds, is it? It might be, but that would involve assuming you’re robotic in nature and exercise can simply be ‘programmed in’ on a regular basis. But you’re not. You’re a person, with feelings. You get lazy, sometimes. And bored. And you often struggle to find the motivation to stay on track towards your goals. And what’s more, your current strength programme doesn’t even exist. To begin with you need to make a plan and find some time to train (hmmm, from where?) and get good advice on the right programme for you. Then you can think about starting to train. Not an easy thing to do.

So, what is it actually going take? You must make it meaningful to your game.

What do I mean by “meaningful? When you’re considering adding new things to your training, always start by asking yourself the question “why is this so important to my game”? Not anybody else’s game, or netball in general. But your game. You must make it meaningful to YOU. It seems simple, but it’s crucially important to your success, as your answer will tightly connect your training goals to your sporting performance out on court.

What is the main reason you play the game? Because it’s fun, right? Well, the only way you’ll stay on track towards your goals it to clearly recognise how achieving them will make your netballing experience more enjoyable. Once you set your goals share them with others by writing them down and pinning them somewhere for all to see. And then, once you’ve done that, talk about them constantly. Talk about them with your coach, your parents, and your friends.  Doing so will give you regular reminders of why you do what you do, why you’re busting your butt in training to improve and it will inspire you with the motivation to keep at it day after day to reach the goals. I’d like to leave you with an example.

I talked above about the importance of speed in netball and that strong players move faster on court. Now let’s make that meaningful. Player X is a Goal Attach (GA). She’s a moving shooter who runs great lines and is very aware of the space around her. However, she has recognised that her speed could be improved. So, she asks herself the questions… “Why is getting faster so important to my game?” Slower speed off the mark means that even though she can see the space to run in to (to take a pass from her Wing Attack or Center) she is too late getting there, allowing the Goal Defense to track her movement and cut off the past. By clearly highlighting why improving her speed will improve her game, player X can easily appreciate the reason for the new strength training programme she is about to begin. And is prepared to give 100% in her efforts to get stronger.