I'm a new coach with 2 players who struggle to catch...

I'm a new coach with 2 players who struggle to catch...

I am new to coaching this year and have a couple of girls who struggle to catch the ball despite 3 yrs of playing. One is quite scared and the other does not have good gross motor skills. Any suggestions on drills or games to improve these?

Netball CoachCoach
Lee-annes NetballCoach, Australia

most players who are scared to catch a ball or are not good at catching are doing 2 things wrong.  they aren't catching the ball well out in front of their body, or watching the ball until it is in their hands.

try going back to the very basics.  each person has a ball.  they bounce and catch the ball in front of them.  then bounce and clap and catch.  bounce double clap and catch.  bounce full pivot and catch.  now have them throw the ball in the air as high as they want.  get them watching the ball the whole time and catch it as far above their heads as they can.  once comfortable, add in the clap and catch, and then repeat the same as for the bounce drills.  these are good drills as they are in full control of how far to throw the ball in the air, and when to progress to the next extension drill.

once they are more confident with that you can move onto something a bit different.  get some tennis balls, or for some even more fun, boiled eggs (don't tell them they are boiled).  have them throw this item between the two players.  remind them to catch it out in front and don't take their eyes off it.  underarm throws a fine if you are using an egg.  the idea is to get them to really focus on the item, and to catch it out in front. (no one wants to have an egg hit them).  once they are more focused and catching out in front with arms extended, then reintroduce a netball and do some basic passes and see if there has been any improvement.  once they have confidence in their ability to catch the ball and stop it from hitting their face, then their ball skills will improve.

hope that helps.

Netball CoachCoach

Wow! Thank you so much. We will do this at training and see how they go. I think using the smaller balls and also allowing them to be in charge of throwing or bouncing the ball will definitely build their confidence. I'll let you know how it goes

Janet Coach, Australia

Great suggestions Leanne, all those can also be used with more experienced players for a fun training session to improve reaction times.  Not watching the ball is usually the result of either (1) being afraid of the ball or (2) looking for the next pass before player has controlled the ball. With players that are afraid of the ball show them how to catch a netball safely in front on them i.e. rounded "W" hands slightly to the side of and behind the ball to stop it coming through the hands, arms outstretched with bend in elbow to cushion the catch and then extend the technique on to more dynamic catches.  Players that look to pass before they have controlled the ball may not realise what is going wrong and reinforcing the correct sequence is maybe all that is needed.  Yes, this is basic stuff but players still get through without learning it early on.

A player with gross motor skill issues may be improved with identifying reasons (i.e. learning difficulties, postural issues, poor balance, weight etc) and adapting some training goals to suit the individual. That could also include educating the rest of the team to encourage participation by a less than able player verbally and by slightly modifying their passing to suit. 

It is much easier to coach those with good natural agility but it can be much more satisfying to get a team of mixed abilities working like a team.

Lee-annes NetballCoach, Australia

actually Janet the basics I am talking about first to get confidence catching the ball is how i teach my netsetgo kids who are 5 and 6 to not be afraid as they are in charge of how high the ball goes, and how fast they progress.  the part where you go down to tennis balls or eggs, is when they are more confident catching.  but yes i agree with teaching good confident catching is to get them to catch the ball out in front of your body, and your suggestions are awesome too.

Netball CoachCoach

To help my young girls with confidence with catching I get them to do their passing drills with a variety of balls... squishy spikey ones, rugby balls, tennis balls, etc.  I have also done this with everyone right up into the senior grades as it changes the "usual old passing drills" into something different, and they have to concentrate and engage more.  When we do pre-netball skills with 4 & 5 year olds we use soft netballs, so if they hit their little fingers it doesn't hurt.  They also bounce really well and the kids really have fun with them.

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