HEALTHAGENDA

Netball

How to be a good netball coach: From regular dad to drills hero

Coaching young netballers is a tough gig. It’s even harder when you’re not an expert on the game of netball. Meet Wayne; the sport-loving WA dad who became a netball coach and courtside hero…

Carmel Sparke
July 2019

Before his first game as coach of his daughter’s under-10s netball team, Wayne Price was racked with pre-match nerves – worse than if he was playing his own footy grand final.

This sport-loving WA dad had played in, and trained, plenty of basketball and AFL teams, but he was anxious about his first gig as a netball coach.

“I was so nervous,” he says. “I was scared I was going to make a mistake and of what the parents would think – especially as I didn’t know half the rules. They love their netball down here!” he says.

Happily, Wayne’s team did win that game, and they’ve since grown into a group of young netball dynamos under his guidance; learning life-long skills and making firm friendships along the way.

Stepping up to be the coach of a junior netball team

Wayne’s journey from parent to netball coach started in 2016. He and wife Janis had just moved 400km south from Geraldton to Perth with their four young children.

Initially, their eldest daughter, Tia, then aged 10, joined a netball team with girls of different skill levels. Price and a few other parents thought it would be good to start a team with girls of the same level of experience, to help them develop as netballers.

In the end, it was some of the mums who nudged him into coaching. Wayne admits it took him a while to get the hang of the finer points of the rules and drills skills, but he had a good background in sport.

“At the end of the day, you pass the ball down to the other end of the court and you score. You know that’s what you have to do – that’s how you win a game.”

Beyond the drills: Building a netball team for the community

Wayne’s approach must have worked, because the team won that first competition. Once it was finished, the girls wanted to keep playing together so they formed the Lightning Strikes, a tournament team for competitions around the Perth region, as well as a club team for their local Saturday games.

At training, the team focussed on the basics – spending hours on netball drills to help with passing, dodging defenders, spreading out and moving into open space, and shifting the ball down the court quickly. And at tournaments the team kept winning, as well as blitzing its club-age competition.

“In the last three years, we’ve pretty much won all the tournaments around Perth. The kids have loved it and it’s been amazing seeing how much their skills have come on,” enthuses coach Wayne.

“The girls are so happy being part of a team together. I wanted to give them something else to do besides hanging out at the shops or being on their iPads,” he says.

“When you get them down here at training, the girls absolutely love it and they’re not bored. It keeps their minds busy and they’re achieving amazing things, too.”

Life of a netball coach: The family logistics

Life in the Price household is a blur of netball, AFL and basketball training sessions and competitions, with all four kids playing sport.

Price, 36, only just gave up playing basketball himself last year, and he also coaches his sons’ basketball and AFL teams.

Running his own carpet-cleaning business has helped with the juggle to collect kids from school and to fit in coaching sessions and sport drop-offs, but it’s still a challenge to stay on top of it all.

“There’s a lot of work involved but it’s so rewarding to see their faces at the end of a game. My daughter loves me coaching, and we always get comments from other girls like, ‘I wish my dad coached [us]!’.”

Three years on from that first game, the team is now 13 players strong and has become a formidable side, winning 27 out of the 30 tournaments it has entered.

They’ve recently joined the Fury Netball Club, which has pitted the team against older girls who provide stronger competition on the court.

The unsung heroes of weekend netball matches

Price goes above and beyond for his daughter and community, but he’s not the only one. In netball teams across the country, players might be the stars of the show, but they need the support of thousands of volunteers.

As Vicki Newby, President of the Parramatta Auburn Netball Association NSW, points out: “If we didn’t have volunteers, we wouldn’t have a competition”.

Every week, her association’s 400-registered players are supported by dozens of people who turn up as netball coaches, umpires, and to run the canteen and competition.

“It’s getting harder to find volunteers, but I do it because I like the sport, the people involved, the friendships, and it’s good to see kids doing something healthy,” Vicki says.

HCF recently announced a partnership with Netball Australia and is supporting the game from grassroots to elite levels. This partnership expands our  involvement in netball beyond its existing partner relationship with Suncorp Super Netball team, GIANTS Netball.

HCF CEO and Managing Director, Sheena Jack, is delighted that HCF is partnering with an organisation that shares so many of its own core values: “We are two organisations that put the health and wellbeing of our members first. Together, we look forward to expanding our support for the netball family.”

Keen to be a netball coach or interested in a coaching accreditation? Want to play or volunteer? Find out more at netball.com.au

Did you know?

34,000 volunteers, including netball coaches, umpires and bench officials, support community netball players around Australia each year.

Source: Netball Australia

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