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How To Prepare for Netball Rep Trials

If you are a young netballer with trials coming up, this article will provide helpful tips and insights on how to prepare for rep trials. From what to do in the lead up to the trial round to tips for managing nerves on the day, this will be your go-to guide to help you prepare for rep trials. 

If you’re the parent of an aspiring athlete who wants to take their netball to the next level and perform their best at their upcoming rep trials, print out this blog post and help your son or daughter work through these tips so they feel happy, confident and ready to play to their potential on the day of the rep trials. 

Tips leading up to rep trials 

PlayBook Coach and Sapphire Series netballer Amy Sommerville said the most important thing to work on in the lead up to rep trials is your basic skills and fitness, as this is what selectors will be looking for on the day of the rep trials. She said selectors and rep coaches look for athletes with a good understanding of the game and how to play strategically as well as good foundations that can be built on with specialised coaching. If you can nail the basics, selectors and rep coaches will see your potential from the get-go.  

It’s also helpful to know what selectors are looking for, and what they are impressed by so you can stand out in the crowd. For example, if there is a netball selector that likes to see athletes take risks, show them what you are capable of.

Amy also said working with a private sports coach is a good way to prepare for rep trials, as they help athletes identify their personal strengths and work on ways to highlight them when they play. In the months leading up to the rep trials, find a private sports coach to train with on a regular basis to hone your technique, learn new skills and prepare physically and mentally. If you want to find a private sports coach in your area, browse our directory of over 340 coaches across Australia here.

Finally, Amy suggests establishing a game-day routine and practicing it in the lead up to the rep trials. It might be listening to music in the car and while you warm up, spending the morning outdoors with your dog or practicing meditation and breathing techniques. Establish a game day routine and practice it in the lead up to the rep trials so you have a process that you can follow on the day to remain calm and get into the zone. 

Tips for the morning of the rep trials

We’ve compiled a checklist of the things you should do on the morning of the rep trials to ensure you are calm, confident and play to your potential on the day. 

  • Have an early night and get at least 8 hours of sleep
  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast
  • Pack your bag early and make sure you have everything you need, whether it is strapping tape and a knee brace or shin pads and your helmet. 
  • Know where you need to go and what time you need to be there so you can arrive early and warm up. Avoid rushing around on the morning of the rep trials, as this adds unnecessary stress and pressure. 

Tips for the rep trials

Once you are at the rep trials and warmed up, it’s time to show the coaches and selectors what you’re made of. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you are playing throughout the day… 

  • Be confident and back yourself and your skillset.
  • Accept challenges, even if they are out of your comfort zone. If you’re asked to fill in for a position you don’t normally play, or do a drill you have never done before, embrace the opportunity and accept the challenge. Selectors and rep coaches are looking for athletes with a good attitude and a willingness to learn. Netballer Caitlyn Nevins said jumping at an opportunity to fill in as Wing Attack when she was trialling as a shooter was a blessing in disguise, because it was there that she was able to showcase her ability. She went on to play Wing Attack for the Queensland Firebirds and the Australian Diamonds. Her advice? Jump at the opportunities to showcase your skills. 
  • Show you are hungry to learn and improve.
  • Listen to feedback and take on suggestions or recommendations from coaches and training staff. 
  • Show you are a good sport and that you can work within a team dynamic, even if you have only just met the people you are playing with (which is common at rep trials). Show that you can make connections quickly and that you are cooperative and supportive, as this will always work in your favour. 
  • Remind yourself of what you are good at and show that when you play. If you are good at intercepting high passes, hunt for opportunities to show your skills. 
  • Don’t be afraid to chat with the other people you are trialling alongside – you never know who you might be playing with down the track and they could be a great support network, whether you make the team or not. PlayBook Coach and Netballer Tara Hinchliffe said she wishes she had the confidence to talk to the other girls at the U13 trials because she actually ended up playing with them a couple of years later and they were all lovely! So, don’t be intimidated by your peers, you’re all there because you love the sport so you have things in common.
  • Embrace your competitive nature, in a positive way. Netballer Chanel Gomes said her competitive nature is what pushed her to be as good as the other girls who were trialling and in rep teams. Use your competitiveness to push yourself and rise to the occasion. 
  • Stay calm, even though that is easier said than done! 

Some things to keep in mind when you get the results 

If you do make the rep team… 

Congratulations – you did it! But the hard work isn’t over – now that you’ve made the rep team, you need to continue to train hard and improve your skills and technique to continue playing at the top level. Learn from the people around you, your teammates and your rep coaches. If you were working with a private sports coach in the lead-up to trials, don’t stop now! One-on-one coaching is so important, so continue working with a private sports coach who is understands you, motivates and supports you to build confidence.

Most importantly, show you are a good sport and support other players who didn’t make it.

If you don’t make the rep team… 

Don’t give up! Ask for feedback so you know the areas which you can work on and improve for next time. This is where a private sports coach can come in handy, because they can take on specific feedback you receive from rep selectors and coaches and help you work on specific skills and areas. Work hard throughout the year and go back to the next rep trials and show selectors that you have taken on their feedback and improved. 

Netballer Steph Wood talks about the importance of getting feedback from the right people in a video on our IGTV channel (you can view it here) and said that it completely transformed her mindset, game and work ethic when she actually found out why she didn’t get selected. 

She said she used to spend a lot of time and effort listening to the people who said “you should have made that team” and “you’re so talented” and took on their feedback, but they weren’t the ones making decisions and when she realised they were just helping her justify why she wasn’t selected, she was able to seek out the constructive feedback from coaches that didn’t select her and that ultimately transformed her game. 

Steph said, “When I started listening to them, they were saying things like “I don’t think she is fit enough to run a game out” or “her skills, when under fatigue, can sometimes faulter” so I worked really hard on my fitness that year, I dropped weight because i had a little bit of weight on me that I didn’t need and I got into the gym.” 

So our number one tip is to get constructive feedback and the information from the people who are making the decisions and work on your weaknesses. Missing out doesn’t mean it’s over – there is always another shot and it’s a great learning curve to identify what you need to do to improve. 

At the end of the day though, making the rep team isn’t the only indicator for success and it helps build resilience and as Netballer Amorangi Malesala says, one coaches opinion shouldn’t define you.

Tips for parents

If your son or daughter is preparing for rep trials, there are lots of things you can do to support them and encourage them. Preparing for rep trials can be stressful and nerve-wracking, so helping them stay calm is super important. Here are some things you can do as a parent…

  • Make rep trials a positive experience and don’t put too much pressure on them.  
  • Foster good sportsmanship and show behaviour that you want them to mirror, especially if they have to deal with the disappointment of not being selected for the rep team. 
  • Teach your child how to deal with the highs and lows of winning and losing in sport so they have strategies to cope in both situations. This article shares some helpful tips on how to talk to kids about winning and losing. 
  • If your child isn’t selected for the rep team, help them get the feedback they need and create an action plan so they can improve their skills and hone their technique. Find a private sports coach or mentor that they can work with for the next couple of months to implement the feedback and identify how they can improve. 
  • Let the athlete lead the conversation and ask for feedback, rather than hitting them with it as soon as they are off the field or court. Let your child lead the conversation and support them, rather than criticise.
  • Remind them that making the rep team isn’t the be-all and end-all. Netballer Maddy McAuliffe said she never actually made many rep teams through her teens but because she loved playing netball she kept working towards her goal and didn’t let the setbacks keep her from trailing. Fast forward to today and she is signed with the Sunshine Coast Lighting and has represented Australia at both an Under 19 and Under 21 level.

When speaking to some of our netball coaches on how parents can support their children when preparing for netball rep trials, they all mentioned a couple of common things that parents shouldn’t do if their child isn’t selected. 

  • Don’t be “that” parent. Avoid pacing up and down the sidelines and don’t talk to the selectors. If you are going to go along to the rep trials, sit in the grandstand and avoid yelling, cheering or commenting on the game, as this can have a negative impact on your child and others too. 
  • Don’t tell them they should have made it – Maddy McAuliffe said the best thing her Mum said to her she missed out on a rep team was “you’re not what they are looking for right now” because it gave her no resentment to the players who were selected, and gave her motivation to work hard and improve. 

While the rep trial process is different for every sport, these practical tips will help you prepare for rep trials and develop a strategy for the day of the trials too. The most important thing to remember is to stay positive, work hard and don’t give up, even if you don’t make the rep team this time around. Good luck!

If you want to hear more about Caitlyn Nevins’ journey in netball, here’s a great Q&A for your to watch on our IGTV – Netball Insights from Caitlyn Nevins

Feature image is Kate training with Caitlyn Nevins.

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