Netball began as a form of women's basketball. Then the guys got jealous and demanded to join the fun. The sport is played on a rectangular court that features raised goal rings at each end. Women continue to dominate the sport, but the fitness requirements are just as stringent and demanding as any other athletic pursuit. Strength, speed, agility, coordination and cardiovascular fitness comprise the fitness components of netball. Circuit training encompasses all of these components in one workout.
Circuit Training Defined
A netball circuit training session consists of six to 12 sport-specific exercises designed to enhance your athletic prowess. Expect to spend about one minute at each exercise station. Exercises might include plyometric jumps, pushups, power lifts and abdominal curls. The equipment depends on where the circuit takes place. A gym-based circuit might include the cardio and strength-training machines, but some coaches prefer nontraditional equipment such as kettlebells, medicine balls, bands, jump ropes and agility ladders. If your coach is feeling generous, she will allow you a 15- to 30-second rest between stations, but when it gets closer to game time, she might demand that you perform the exercises back to back. The netball game does not allow a 30-second rest between shots. Neither should your training session.
Periodization is a type of conditioning that involves strategic implementation of specific training phases. During these phases, the coach will either increase or decrease the volume and/or intensity of the workout. Jane Woodlands Thomson, author of "The Netball Handbook," uses the concept of periodization in her netball circuit design. The rationale behind this training philosophy is that once you adapt to a certain type of training program, your body gets bored, goes on autopilot and stops exerting any effort. Periodization is a form of shock therapy for your muscular and cardiovascular system. Depending upon the season, a netball circuit might emphasize aerobic or anaerobic exercise. As the competition season approaches, circuits become shorter and less intense, in order to assure fresh, injury-free performance.
You chose netball as your sport, so you obviously like to jump, but if you want your team to win, you need to jump higher. A bare minimum of one plyometric station is a "must have" in your netball circuit. Add more plyo stations as you gain strength and power. Exercises include squat jumps, box jumps, split jumps and others of their ilk. Your time spent in the plyometric stations of the circuit might be the longest minute you will ever spend, but it's all for the good of the game.
The agile netball player reacts to outside stimuli without losing her balance, form or postural alignment. Your agility, or unfortunate lack thereof, will make or break a netball game. Medicine ball training, both fun and highly sport-specific, deserves a place in your netball circuit. Partner up with a teammate to practice medicine ball tossing drills, then add a balance and coordination element by combining them with other movements, such as jumping, hopping and skipping. Medicine ball training also enhances your throwing speed and core strength, both of which will benefit your netball game.
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.