Our initiative was to plan and implement a new pre-season training schedule for all our club teams based on the COVID-19 restrictions. A directive from Netball WA meant we were not able to train in the traditional fashion on netball courts.
Our senior coach came up with the vision and presented the plan to the committee and team coaches. It was a completely different format to our usual pre-season training sessions. Designed to be run with a maximum of 10 participants, this program would be delivered in local park areas. Participants were set up in an allocated 2m x 2m area with their own ball and equipment. The session was set up in a circuit format with athletes completing 30secs of fitness, footwork and boxing alternating with 30secs of ballwork. We completed 3 sets of 5 mins in each area, to imitate our usual court time of 15-minute quarters. If athletes did not have cones or tennis balls, we utilised socks instead.
Our first session was designed to educate the coaches. Broome Bullets had selected 9 teams (10U to Seniors) to compete in the local competition prior to COVID-19 taking effect. The coaches were invited to experience the session plans in a presentation at the park from our senior coach. This allowed time to explain and trial the new format and discuss any adjustments relating to age and ability.
Coaches then contacted their players and a schedule was established, so there were no cross-overs of time or place. A COVID-19 training plan was put in place and submitted to the Broome Netball Association for approval. All coaches completed the online COVID-19 course and a document was completed each week noting all names of those who attended. Training commenced with regular team posts on our Facebook page to encourage each other.
We developed this initiative as we were worried about our athletes physical and mental well-being during COVID. There was no indication when the season might commence, and we wanted our athletes to remain physically fit and healthy so they would be ready to compete whenever we got the go ahead. Coaches were concerned that we might have to come back into a season with little preparation and this could potentially result in an injury.
From conversations with our senior athletes, it was evident that they needed some mental support, many of them also work in the health care industry and were under intense pressure at work. The ability to get together as a group and support each other was crucial. Being a predominantly female sport, we understand how important it is for females to have the opportunity to converse and confide in each other.
Our team coaches and assistant coaches are varied - some are mums, some are players and we have a few junior coaches (13 to 18). This was an opportunity to support these coaches by demonstrating and giving them a solid session plan to follow. They could also utilise parts of this program in their future sessions.
Our program was a huge success with all coaches and teams enjoying the new format. Initially there were concerns over the additional paperwork and COVID training but once the coaches committed, they enjoyed the new challenge. Athletes were keen and energetic during the sessions and willing to attempt new experiences. We had full attendance at most sessions and teams showed off their new skills on our Facebook page. Our 10U's even came up with a netball tictok!
We were one of the few clubs to commence training early and were approached by Netball WA to provide some footage for their facebook posts. Later in the season GWN also showcased some footage on TV.
Discussions with participants resulted in positive feedback and we were ready to hit the court when we moved into phase 4 restrictions. Volunteers were thanked publicly at our Broome Bullets uniform presentations, prior to the season commencing.