When your team is on the court, how many times is the ball landing in the centre of the ring? If you’re not taking every opportunity to score goals, it’s going to be much more difficult to win matches, particularly against a challenging opponent.
Although some players will naturally have a knack of being more able to hit the target, as a coach there’s a number of aspects you can focus on to improve shooting skills in netball.
Back to basics
Whilst the players you’re coaching may be experienced and skilled, if you haven’t fine-tuned the very basics of shooting, they’ll never reach their full potential. It may seem like a step backwards, but evaluating their overall technique and correcting any bad habits will be more rewarding than carrying out countless drills.
The movement should start by keeping elbows and wrists straight and pointed directly at the goal, holding the netball above the head and resting on the fingertips. As the movement starts and the hand drops slightly, the knees should bend to drive the power for the release.
The arms and hands should only be guiding the direction; all the strength should come from the lower body. Using a bottle of pop as an analogy can help explain this; the bubbles rise from the bottom to the top before fizzing out. The power should follow the same path, exploding from the legs up through the body.
A ball that first arcs upwards before dropping is the effect you’re trying to achieve. Look out for a straight or flat trajectory, a lack of bend in the knees and poor arm or hand control.
Squeezing every possible advantage out of the position on the court often means taking a step in one direction or balancing on one foot. The shooters need to have excellent core stability and balance to be able to still execute an immaculate technique in a less than ideal stance.
Activities and exercises which help to improve core stability or practice balance can be extremely beneficial to the whole team, but in particular those who need to retain accuracy while shooting.
In addition to more general exercises for core stability, you can add in some drills which work specifically on shooting and retaining balance while stepping.
Don’t forget to include stepping back; this may seem counterproductive but it can be useful to get away from a defender who’s blocking the trajectory.
Retain accuracy at all times
When you plan a coaching session, it’s tempting to organise the shooting practice near the beginning so the players are full of energy and alert. While this can certainly be helpful, particularly to practice a specific element, it’s not that accurate in replicating game conditions.
Shooters can become tired during the course of a match, and the key is to be able to still retain accuracy when weariness starts to creep in. The best way to achieve this is by practising in similar conditions; this means shooting practice at the end of a session when arms and legs are feeling heavy.
Technique is one of the first things to fail when fatigued which is why it’s so useful to practice under these conditions.
Check out a few of our lesson plans for shooting skills in netball:
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