It’s really important to warm up well when you’re about to start a game of netball. A good warm-up will not only help your suppleness and enable you to stretch further – it will prevent injuries caused by stressing cold muscles.
The NHS recommends that a warm-up should last at least six minutes. So for the first few times it may be worth timing yourself and the rest of the team to make sure you’re all spending long enough on the warm-up.
1. Jog Round the Court
Take it slowly at first, and do just a few laps to get your heart rate up and prepare your body for more intensive exercise to come.
2. Stretch Your Major Muscle Groups
This is key to preventing muscle tears, knee damage and other injuries. As netball involves a lot of running, pay particular attention to your legs. The best way to stretch them is to combine a few different exercises. Toe touches, the hurdler stretch, the “pretzel”, frog squat and calf stretches are all easy to find illustrated online – and the NHS also has a helpful video at the page referenced above.
Because you’ll be using your upper body to pass the ball, shoot and so on, include some upper-body warm-up exercises, such as chest curls while lying on the ground, side stretches and so on. Again, there are lots of good examples of netball training videos available from www.sportplan.net/drills/Netball/Warm-ups/10-Balls-Anywhere-TBN0044.jsp.
3. Keep Moving
Now that you’ve stretched your muscles, keep moving so that they stay warm and flexible. Star jumps are a great warming exercise, as are side shuffles – especially if you wave your arms at the same time. It’s an excellent defensive exercise that you can use when the game starts for real.
4. Practise Some Game Movements
Start the team passing the ball around, perhaps in a circle. Try bounce passes with just one hand, alternating the hand used. Then try some straight chest passes. After that, back to bounces again.
5. Mental Warm-up
Before you start the game, take a moment to warm up psychologically. That means getting in the right frame of mind – positive but competitive and, above all, ready to enjoy playing your sport.