Thursday / 1 / December

Top 5 Insights – Shine: The Making of the Australian Netball Diamonds

Shine is an incredible story of hard work, failure, and success, documenting the rise to fame of 12 Diamond players. For any eager sportspeople searching for guidance in the world of professional sports, Shine provides the ultimate playbook on success in netball. For coaches, the beaming praise of Alexander’s techniques offer a new insight into how one may go about transitioning their players into the best players that they can be. Whether you are from netball or not, Shine is a fascinating read for anyone.

Here are our top 5 insights from the book:

Sometimes failure comes before success

While watching Australian netball’s best zip around the court, it can be hard to imagine that these women were once only girls with big dreams. However, this was how it started for all of them – and it was not always a smooth journey to success.

From setbacks at the state level to missing out on national team selection, many of the Diamond players have faced some form of failure before they secured a place on the team. Nat Medhurst was let go from the Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2009 after being told she was no longer needed; Rebecca Bulley missed out on selection for the Vixens in 2008; and Kim Ravaillion faced a shock omission from the NSW under 17s team [link]. However, Nat and Kim both found their place in the Queensland Firebirds, and Rebecca joined the NSW Swifts, and they all found their way to the Diamonds. The message here for all aspiring players, whether it be in netball or any other sport, is that failure sometimes precedes success.

To learn more about Kim’s sporting journey, see our article ‘Kim Ravaillion: How a Major Setback Was a Blessing in Disguise.’

For information on how to find success from initial failure, see our article ‘How to Refocus When You Don’t Make the Cut’.

Hard work paves the road to success

Although it’s valuable to be intuitively good at the sport you play, you can’t rely on natural talent to propel you into the big leagues – it takes hours of intense training, gym work, and a focus on nutrition. Success in sport rests on the shoulders of hard, gruelling work.

“We have some success, some failure, but that’s how you learn.” Lisa Alexander

Caitlin Basset didn’t arrive at the incredible success she enjoys today through simply ‘being good’. Although her height and natural proficiency with the sport aided her journey, it wasn’t innate talent that got her where she is today. It was dark, chilly nights in winter practicing for hours in the backyard and strict physical programs which made the formidable shooter. For Madison Robinson, it was constant training, going from state basketball training in the morning to state netball training in the afternoon from the age of 10 onwards. It takes significant investment in training and hard work to play to your potential, regardless of sheer talent.

Soft skills in sport are universal

Many of the Diamonds kicked their careers off in other sports before finding their way to netball. Renae Ingles was originally a basketballer, but found a deep love for the sport after a hasty fill-in for a Saturday morning netball game during primary school. Kimberlee Green was competing strongly in both netball and athletics into her mid-teens. As a talented hurdler, she qualified for the World Junior Championships before being asked to join the Sydney Swifts. It was the support of the team environment of netball that drove her decision to let athletics take a back-seat. The success of these players in other sports taught them easily transferable sporting skills such as communication, good sportsmanship, and resilience which they brought to their performance in netball. This demonstrates that you don’t have to start in the same sport you end up in and the skills you learn in sport you can be applied anywhere.

It takes sacrifice

It takes hard work to achieve greatness in sports, and it often takes a great amount of sacrifice. For some, this is making health and nutrition their number one priority, and for others, putting their bodies through incredible physical stress. It can also be time; for Nat Medhurst to train, her parents had to drive the 8-hour round journey to Adelaide from their rural home in Millicent. It can be leaving behind family and friends to venture to new cities to pursue your sporting dreams, or quitting other hobbies to make time for training commitments. For Caitlin Bassett, it was giving up her musical dreams in order to commit fully to netball.

However, the sacrifices are often insignificant compared to the joy of playing with the Diamonds. Kimberlee Green sums up the pride in wearing the green and gold: “I play because I love it. I know the risks and sacrifices involved, but never do they outweigh what I believe is the best job in the world.” The commitment to the sport is so strong that it builds their character. As Natalie Bode says, “netball has shaped who I am as a person”.

A good coach makes all the difference

The Diamonds have had numerous victories, including the 2015 Netball World Cup Championship, the 2016 Constellation Cup, and a gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games under Lisa Alexander and her coaching team’s guidance. With Alexander’s arrival to the Diamonds coaching team in 2011, she sought to challenge the individualistic atmosphere that had broken the team previously and emphasise team values and culture. Rather than seeing the game as individuals competing against one another, Alexander was passionate about the sport as a whole, and every time they went out to play she reminded the Diamonds that the game was bigger than just the 12 of them.

Coach Alexander’s personal approach has also benefitted the players, by acknowledging that they have emotions and limits. Coach Alexander believes acknowledging the emotions that players experience allows them to flourish as an entire person rather than just as a netball player, giving them confidence in their own abilities. Alexander allows room for players to recover both physically and mentally from the demands and stress of professional netball by providing them with breaks and not turning their entire lives into an extended game of netball.

What did we learn?

Shine teaches everyone, regardless of their level of performance or aspirations in sport, that it is hard work and a love for the game which has fuelled the Diamond’s many successes over the years. But sport is not just about victory – as Madison Robinson said, “I’m not defined by the successes; it’s the person I am along the journey.”

Header image via: Netball Australia