The Ultimate Netball Off-Season Training Guide

Women running in morning

Posted: 21. 10. 2016

by energetic

If you are a dedicated player, then the netball off season should be used to focus on improving your fitness base and getting yourself in the best condition possible for the upcoming season. Skills shouldn’t be a huge focus until a few weeks before the season actually starts, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t add balls into your fitness and conditioning drills. Many netball players play basketball or another sport during the off season. While this will keep you a little bit fit, and will prevent your skills from dropping off too much, it isn’t enough – especially if you are a centerline player who is required to run a lot during netball games.

Planning Your Off-Season Training Program:

The first, and possibly the most important thing to do is to plan your offseason. Ask yourself important questions which relate to your personal life, your fitness condition, and your goals heading into the next year. Each of these three factors will influence your training plan, what activities you include in your training programs, and what you will get out of it at the end.

Personal Life – Your personal life is possible the most important thing to consider when planning your training program. For example, if you plan on going on holidays for a few weeks around christmas, make sure you take this into account. Perhaps you can plan some sessions which you can complete away from home, such as running or body weight exercises. Or, perhaps you can use this period as a rest – however, this means that you can’t plan a rest week for the week before you go on holidays!

Fitness Condition – Thinking about your fitness condition will allow you to identify your main weaknesses and the things that you feel that you need to improve. You may have an excellent endurance, but no sprinting ability whatsoever. In this case, you need to make sure that you include some form of sprint training in your training program.

Your Goals – Identifying your goals and what you want to achieve over the offseason will allow you to plan your training program accordingly. Perhaps you are a shooter and you want to improve your accuracy from 50% to 60%. Perhaps you are a goal defender and want to get stronger so that you can block and defend better. Regardless of what they are, make sure that you jot down your goals before starting to plan your offseason to ensure that they are all addressed.


The Five S’s of Netball:

In order to become a complete netball player, you need to address every aspect of your playing style and fitness ability. You can make sure you have done this by going through the five S’s of sport:

  • Skill – Your skills can be split down into two more categories: your technical skill and your tactical skill. If you feel that you are lacking in one of these areas, then be sure to focus on it over the offseason.
  • Speed – Speed can also be broken down into a number of subcategories, including straight line speed, agility, and so called “sport speed”.
  • Suppleness –  This includes both flexibility in a stationary sense and mobility during gameplay.
  • Strength –  This includes maximum strength, power, muscular endurance, and “sports strength”.
  • Stamina – This is linked very closely to aerobic endurance and the ability to sustain physical activity for a long period of time.

If you include ways to improve each of the five S’s in your training program, then you can be relatively confident of becoming a better all round player.

Testing and Monitoring Your Improvement:

If you are completing a long term training program with the aim of improving some aspect or aspects of your fitness, then nothing is more important than monitoring your improvement. If you improve for some time, but then stop improving or go backwards, then it could signal the need to change something that you are doing. The following tests are some of the best to use to monitor your improvement during the duration of your training program, and even between programs. For example, you could use the same tests at the beginning of each offseason to give you an idea of where you are at in terms of fitness, and how much you need to improve to be at your best.

The Beep Test – Although the beep test is a classic fitness test, and is one of the most widely used in both amateur and professional sporting circles, it is still one of the most convenient ways to monitor your aerobic fitness.

Time Trials – You can use time trials of certain lengths – maybe 1.5 or 3 kilometers – as an alternative to the beep test. They also monitor your aerobic endurance and fitness.

30 Second Push-up Test – The name of this fitness test basically says it all. It monitors your muscular strength, endurance, and power by recording how many push-ups you can complete in thirty seconds.

Agility Test – Some form of timed agility test is an absolute must for monitoring your fitness training – especially when you are training in order to improve your netball game.

Incorporate the FITT Principle into Your Training Program:

The FITT principle is used in the creation of training programs for athletes and sports teams throughout the world. It represents the following training principles:

  • Frequency – How often do you train?
  • Intensity – How hard each session is: do you train at 50%, 75%, 100%, or something in between.
  • Time – The length of each training session.
  • Type – The kind of activity that you are completing during training.

When applying this principle to netball, we can come to a number of conclusions that you can apply to your training program. The frequency of training should be anything from 3 to 5 times per week for improvement and 1 to 3 times per week for maintenance. You may enter maintenance periods at some point during training, for example over the christmas holidays, or if you decide to travel in the off-season.

Training intensity in the off-season should be kept to moderate or moderate-hard levels, rather than going 100%. This will reduce the risk of burning out and/or losing motivation. You should train for anything up to 70 minutes at a time, or use long intervals of 4-6 minutes. The best type of training for the off-season is running, weights, or other purely fitness based activities.

Final Word:

If you keep all of the above principles and ideas in mind when developing your off-season netball training plan, then your fitness should improve out of sight. Although it is extremely important to work hard and put in the hours of training, keep the words of famous American athletics coach Bill Bowerman in mind:

“The idea that the harder you work the better you’ll be is garbage. The greatest improvement is made by the athlete who works most intelligently”.

Work smart, train hard, and dedicate yourself to training to become the best netball player that you can be.