Young NSW talent eyes future

Some of the country’s best up-and-coming netball talent came together throughout September to participate in Specialist Camps at the newly created Netball Centre of Excellence at the Australian Institute of Sport.

The camps were divided into the different areas of the court, and saw former Australian players and High Performance coaches Jane Searle (Defence), Sue Hawkins (Shooting), Jill McIntosh (Midcourt C/WA), Nicole Richardson (Midcourt C/WD) and Cathy Fellows (Tall Defenders) provide individualised specialist coaching.

Seven former and current NSW representatives attended the five-day specialist camps, including defender Kristiana Man’ua, shooter Kristina Brice, midcourters Maddie Hay, Verity Simmons and Gabi Simpson, as well as young athletes Prudence Ellis and Mikayla Upton for another new initiative –  the Tall Defenders Camp.  Click here to read the full announcement

Netball NSW caught up with Kristina Brice, Prudence Ellis, Maddie Hay and Kristiana Manu’a to see how they went at the Specialist Camps…

What were some of the activities/training you did during the Specialist Camps?
Kristina Brice: A lot of the court work that we had to do was mainly taking everything right back to basics. Once we had gone through the basics we were then able to put the skills into a match situation and see how it all worked at game pace.

Prudence Ellis: We had roughly two training specialist sessions per day which mainly focused on critiquing basic footwork involved with defending.  We did things like working on the body, two-to-two in the circle, defending the shot, etc.

Maddie Hay: We worked on both defensive and attacking aspects of Wing Defence/Centre and the coaches really encouraged us to think about what we were doing and why we were doing it, rather than just acting on instincts.

Kristiana Manu’a: All the sessions were defence specialised; first ball contest, second phase efforts, split circle, box/zone defence, wall defence, and hands over pressure.

Who did you work with?
PE: Mainly we worked with Cathy Fellows, who I had worked with at the Australian 17/U camp earlier this year. We also worked with Diamonds Assistant Coach Michelle den Dekker – she was amazing! To round things out we had the chance to play a game of Fast5 with some of the Diamonds and ANZ Championship players, which was a highlight for me.

MH: We were really fortunate to have received coaching from Jill McIntosh, Michelle den Dekker and Nic Richardson.

KM: In our group we had Claire McMeniman, Amy Steel, Kate Shimmin, Jo Weston, and new ANZ Championship players like Chloe Watson, Emily Mannix, plus Australian 21/U representative Maddy Turner.

What are some of the things you learned?
KB: One of the main things that I took away was how to take my game to the next level, so hopefully I can gain an ANZ Championship contact sometime in the future. By being allowed to take all the skills back to basics it also helped to work out the best situations for each move.

PE: I learned a lot of new footwork and lots of defensive plays, which I really do endeavour to put into practice ASAP! But I also learnt more about nutrition and recovery in our theory sessions, which is just as important to your development as an athlete.

MH: I’ve really learned the value in thinking before I act.  In attack I’ve learned about the timing of your drive and assessing when it is the best time to enter the play, while defence it’s about trying to delay and hold the opposition up rather than chasing them around.

KM: I learnt heaps; just different ways to position my body, really working on my opposition player as well as to open outward and inwards.  I also took away some different and more efficient hands over options, as well as the ‘V Block’ – to contest first ball then open that second phase for the other defender.

How did you enjoy the experience/what is one thing that stood out for you?
KB: The best part of the camp would have been being able to train with players that I wouldn’t usually get the chance to train with and against.

PE: I would have to say the biggest thing that stood out for me was that amazing coaching and people I was surrounded by throughout the camp – there was such positivity with my progress which encouraged me to push myself in every aspect. Overall it was a fantastic experience!

MH: The program they put together has been really different and beneficial. All the girls here are such high quality athletes and training with and against them every day has been really good for me.

KM: It was good that it was set out so we had rest in between session, it really gave us a chance to get to know each other and hang out during the week. I found it really beneficial working with the older and more experienced athletes; I learnt just as much from them as I did from the coaches.


The Tall Defenders Camp was the first time Prudence Ellis had been down the other end of the court, having always been a shooter.  However during the recent Australian 17/U Camp the selectors recognised she also possesses the skills to be a tall defender.  Defence was all very new to the 17-year-old… she spoke to further about making the transition:

How was it going from shooter to defender?
PE: It is a completely different mindset to be honest, however being a shooter I found I picked up some of the defensive techniques easier than I thought as I could anticipate some of the moves. I quite enjoyed being able to run around a little more and didn’t find it too difficult; I just need to work on my footwork!

Has the switch interested you in doing so on a full time basis?
PE: I feel slightly inspired to transition to defence as it holds a lot of opportunity over the next three years in terms of the 2017 World Youth Cup. I came to netball quite late so I really haven’t grown attached to any particular position and would be happy to move wherever the greatest opportunity to progress and succeed may be.