SUPER NETBALL // THE ONE THING MY FAVOURITE PLAYERS HAVE IN COMMON

MOST OF YOU WOULD KNOW THAT I USED TO BE A NETBALLER

You may have come across Cleverhand due to your interest in the sport. (And if so – thanks!)
 
If you are a Netty fan, you’ll be getting pretty damn excited about the brand new Suncorp Super Netball that starts THIS WEEKEND!!! New teams, new players, and a whole new level of professionalism.
 
I cannot tell you how impressive these women are. The dedication they show to their training, their health, their minds and their life outside of netball is incredible.
 
As a netballer we were forced to be balanced – if we weren’t, we wouldn’t get on court or be able to pay rent. But now, these athletes are getting the chance to pour everything into their sport. And as spectators, we are going to reap all the rewards.
 
Pre season is tough. But it’s also somewhat enjoyable – hear me out.
 
While you may have a feeling of dread sitting in the pit of your stomach everymorning at the thought of your conditioning sessions (where you may or may not spew). Or feel so physically and mentally exhausted that you can’t comprehend how to go on (I used to literally fall asleep at my desk - I woke up to a whole page of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa on my computer more than once. Sorry past employers!) The satisfaction you feel by pushing your body to its limit is exhilarating. And you are doing it with 13 other girls by your side. You bond over the shared pain. No one else can possibly understand what you’re going through, apart from your new besties, dying right there beside you.
 
If you watch sports interviews, you may notice the confidence and optimism that teams display at the beginning of a season. Whether it’s netball, football, soccer or rugby – players speak of their physical condition and how well their team is gelling together. And they are telling the truth. But often, they’ve fallen into a false sense of security. The thing is, whilst pre-season is tough physically and mentally, you have not yet been emotionally challenged.
 
There is no way to replicate the raw feeling of a loss in the main season. You can’t prepare for the feeling of disappointment when you don’t take the court, even though you’ve sweated your heart out for the past 6 months priming yourself for this very occasion. The true tests come when adversity strikes. You cannot prepare for it, but you must be aware of it.
 
Building trust within your team, having open communication with each other and being honest with yourself about how you are feeling will make you a better player and teammate. Pretending that you’re happy about sitting on the bench won’t help you. But neither will withdrawing from your teammates and disengaging from the group. You can express your disappointment to yourself and a close confidant in your own time - you’re allowed to feel disappointed. But you must leave it there. Do not engage in the ‘poor me’ dialogue. It will not make you better, and the negativity will spread like cancer throughout the team.
 
When you’re at training or on court, you must have a team-first attitude. It’s easy to do this when you’re playing well and the team is winning. It’s much more difficult when you’re low on form, the team is losing and you want to hide.
 
Throughout the Suncorp Super Netball Season, I won’t be looking at the frontrunners. I’m looking for the team that bounces back from adversity. The team that doesn’t tell us how close knit they are, they show us. You see it in the way they interact with each other. Look through the smiles and the high fives – anyone can do this. Search for the meaningful stares and hard words being spoken. Find the real and raw communication that might be hard to hear, but is in the best interest of the team. These will be the teams that prevail.
 
Look for the players willing to step outside of their comfort zone for the greater good of the team. They might not be the flashiest, or have the greatest skills. They’re hard to find and not obvious to look at. These players aren’t there for the accolades or the ego. They’re there for the team, for the win and to be the best they can be.  They will challenge you, not necessarily comfort you. It can be tough to find the balance in one person. But that’s what makes these players great. And I can’t wait to see greatness unfold this year.

PLAYERS WITH HEART

SHARNI LAYTON

I was lucky enough to play with Sharns for a few years and she is one of my all-time favourite teammates. Funny, thoughtful and entertaining off court. Tenacious, unrelenting and an absolute menace on it. She’s the player you want in your team. She’s unapologetically herself which allows her to pour all of her energy into what she is doing in the present moment. (Which is usually taking ridiculous intercepts). She’s one of the best in the game.

ERIN BELL

A little disclaimer here- Ez is one of my best friends, but this means that I’ve been able to see all sides of her (really – we lived together for 3 years!) I can 100% vouch for the heart she has for her team. She is loyal to a fault, professional and a team-first player. She is always looking for ways to improve her game, the teams game, team dynamics and how to have fun. She is one of the greatest teammates to have by your side and is one of the biggest parts of why I will miss playing this year. I’m so glad the Thunderbirds retained her. She is someone to aspire to be like. On and off court.

GABI SIMPSON

I don’t know Gabi well, but geez I played against her a few times (much to my dislike!). And man is she a competitor! Her sheer physicality (I want her guns) is intimidating – she’s fast, agile, has a ridiculous jump and reads the game beautifully. She plays witha smile on her face and you never feel like you’ve broken her (probably because I didn’t, haha!) and she is continually injecting energy into her team. I’m looking forward to seeing her in the captains role at the firebirds and think she will step into her own as a leader. 

MADDY PROUD
Mads is up there with one of the greatest people you will ever meet. You may not be able understand her due to the speed that she talks (seriously, she could be a Gilmore Girl) but her energy is infectious! She has absolutely no fear on the court – I swear she’s a little crazy. She will hunt down any ball with complete disregard for her own safety. She is one of the fittest players I have played with, and also one of the most life-balanced. She’s also whip-smart and has even written a novel. (Keep your eyes peeled!) But back to the heart thing – this girl never gives up. Ever. She brings others into a game and you never have to questions her effort. I hope she absolutely dominates this year. She’s underated. And she’s a legend. 

To celebrate the start of the Super Netball Season, I'm offering 20% off of all Netball Prints. Simply enter the code: CLEVERNETTY at the checkout. Up and In! 

Emily Beaton