Netball tips from Maria Tutaia

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Netball is one of New Zealand’s most prominent women’s sports, with more than 138,000 registered netball players in New Zealand. And Maria Tutaia is one of its leading stars.

Having debuted for the Silver Ferns at only 18 years of age, by then Maria had already won the World Youth Cup in Miami in 2005.

Now with two Commonwealth Games Gold Medals as part of her impressive list of achievements, Maria continues to be one of netball’s biggest stars.

At the 2015 World Cup in Sydney, Maria played her 100th game for the Silver Ferns, becoming just the fourth New Zealander to play 100 tests.

Known for her graceful technique and impressive long-range shooting ability, Maria is always cool under pressure and has worked hard to follow her dream.

“My dream was always to be a Silver Fern,” she says.

“I remember when I was seven or eight years old watching New Zealand play Australia and my nose was literally a few inches from the television. I turned around to mum and dad and told them I wanted to be a Silver Fern.”

Maria’s latest achievement is The Beginner’s Guide to Netball. This informative and inspirational book shares Maria’s journey to becoming an international netball superstar, as well as featuring the basic skills every netballer should be familiar with, no matter what their position.

Discover the origins of netball, how the game works, what gear you’ll need and of course the rules, positions and key skills – and how to stay on top of your game.

Interested in fostering and encouraging the next generation of netballers, Maria also shares how to troubleshoot when things don’t go to plan and the best drills to test your new skills.

Instructional and highly illustrated, this is a beginner’s book of netball for all ages and skill levels but it is targeted at younger players (8-14), beginner netballers or those who want to advance their game and learn more about the sport.

The following is extracted from The Beginner’s Guide to Netball by Maria Tutaia, published by Random House NZ, RRP $35. Photography by Michael Bradley

leader• Lead from the front. First and foremost, do your job on court and show your team the way. If you play with confidence and courage your team will feed off that.

• It’s about setting a good example for your team off the court as well. Put in maximum effort at training, don’t cut any corners with your preparation and be DILIGENT with your recovery.

• A captain needs good communication and strong people skills so that your teammates feel like they can come to you and discuss anything.

• You need to be able to stand up and say something when needed, even though some people might not want to hear it. You’ve got to be able to have those uncomfortable conversations that will help you get the best out of the team. But the team need to trust and respect you so they know it is coming from a place of wanting the best for everyone.

• Surround yourself with good people. It doesn’t all have to rest on your shoulders. A lot of teams will have a leadership group made up of a number of senior players who contribute to the decision-making both on and off the court.

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mental skills
I am a big believer in training your brain as well as your body. For me, VISUALISATION is a key part of my preparation for any game – whether it be a regular season game with the Mystics, or a World Cup final. It’s about being mentally prepared for what might happen out on court, and how I will respond in those situations.

I spend a lot of time visualising the technique of my shot, picturing the arc of my shot being a perfect ‘upside-down J’, the bouncing of my feet, and the wrist flick as the follow-through. I imagine myself shooting the perfect shot where the ball doesn’t touch the rim – I even think about the sound that will make. Swish.

I also like to visualise the lines that I’ll be running, who I’m playing against and what I might do in different scenarios. It’s good to be set in your head that ‘right, if this happens on court, this is what I do’. I know a lot of other players like to visualise their passing, how they will defend the shot, how they are going to lose their opposition player on court. If they’re on the bench, they might like to think about what they might do if they are brought on in a game and how they can make an impact.

I think it’s important to make sure you are visualising positive things and outcomes. You want to make yourself feel confident about the challenges ahead by focusing on the aspects of your performance you can control. If you visualise bad things, bad things are going to happen on the court.

Before your next game, try to set some time aside to think about how you would like to play, and the things you really want to nail out on court and see if it helps. Everyone has their different ways of preparing but I think there is a lot to be said for the power of positive thinking.

WIN one of three copies of Maria Tutaia’s The Beginner’s Guide To Netball 

netballbookGive your netball future a boost with Maria Tutaia’s The Beginner’s Guide To Netball and enter to win one of three copies of this book. Available from Random House NZ ($35), we have three copies to give to three lucky Fitness Journal readers.

To enter simply fill in the form below.  Entries close May 23.

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