The Huddle for UK Coaching Week:

Catherine Best, a Community Coach, shares how she got into netball coaching and why coaches make the game.

It was upon semi-retirement in February 2023 that I decided I wanted to play a more active role in netball. So, I’m no spring chicken. I had played netball at school and apart from some occasional play, my practice over the years had been limited. It didn’t stop me though and I decided I would go all out and achieve what I could. The opportunities came thick and fast.

Within four days of semi-retirement, I joined a Walking Netball club in Bridlington. Soon after I became a member of England Netball and in July, I completed the Level 1 assistant coach training and applied for funding for the Level 2 course, of which I was successful; I start my training in June. I also completed the Walking Netball Host Training in September 2023 and I now host my very own Walking Netball session!

In 2024, I heard about becoming a Community Coach with England Netball, and I now have kit and have also been kindly offered a free place on the UK Coaching platform by England Netball. This has given me a great opportunity to develop my coaching skills in a variety of situations and to become the best coach I can be. There is no stopping me!

I have also benefitted from NETBALLHer; a fantastic opportunity for coaches in particular to develop their understanding of both girls and women’s health. Puberty, pregnancy and the menopause as well as life in between, can all impact negatively on girls and women’s health, and coaches are in a great position to help steer us through this significant period of change through all our lives. Quite often this is the time when girls and women will stop playing netball, so coaches can help steer us safely through these often-rocky periods in our lives and help us come through the other end.

Netball coaches play a vital part in making netball the amazing game it is today. They help netball players understand the game, including the rules. They help shape play and ensure the game flows well. And most importantly, they ensure everyone has an opportunity not only to participate fully but also to have fun; no matter what age or ability.

Like many of our dedicated Netball Family, they are often the unsung heroes of netball who frequently coach in their spare time for no recompense other than for the love of all things netball and to see our current and future netballers achieve their full potential.

Coaches use the whole of the court. They use time to practise and develop skills. They use space to get the best use of the court. They take risks. Sometimes their ideas work; sometimes they don’t. That’s fine! And they execute the game beautifully.

They turn feedback into questions, rather than giving the answers. They don’t assume to know everything and they recognise that sometimes players can be our best teachers.

Equally important, coaches help modify the game so every player can be involved. They help players understand the context of the game, they coach the skills required and encourage practice. Equally they are able to recognise when safeguarding issues may be arising and know what to do to help.

Coaches always want everyone to have fun. They stay fit and frequently play netball themselves. They are often multi-skilled and many feel equally at home umpiring netball. Age is not a barrier to becoming a netball coach. It helps if you know the game a little, but it shouldn’t stop you from taking the next steps if you think coaching is right for you.

So, coaches… They do an amazing job. They do so much to help keep netball happening within their communities. Coaches don’t just have one role; they have many roles. They act as both a friend and colleague and they also act as confidante. They educate; they mentor; they inspire, they enable; they encourage; and they promote a love for netball.

A big thank you to HEY Smile Foundation, who funded my Level 2 coaching course. An infrastructure charity empowering the voluntary and community sector, it awards grants to grassroots organisations and individuals with a passion for social action; their funding priorities were based on people coming together to create healthier and active communities and ensure volunteers were supported to help others.

A personal thank you also goes to Sarah Porritt, the coach of Bridlington Ladies Netball Club. Sarah helped me to develop my application form for the Level 2 course funding, and I am forever grateful to her for doing this. I certainly couldn’t have done it without her.

There are 130 active Community Coaches across the country. Feeling inspired to get involved yourself? Email CommunityCoaches@englandnetball.co.uk and find out more about coaching here.

Refreshed for 2024, The Huddle promises to do what all good huddles do – bring the whole Netball Family together! We want to champion and celebrate your stories, and the stories of the people who inspire you, so share yours here.

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