Circular fitness is a concept explaining the importance of addressing all aspects of ‘fitness’ so you can be the best equipped netballer possible, we include this principle within all of our programs and aim to follow it as athletes ourselves.
Our circular fitness approach includes:
2. Strength, Speed and Power
5. Mental Well-being
7. Recovery and Sleep
This blog will attempt to shed light on some of these elements and provide you with additional materials for you to explore them further.
Endurance / The Engine.
This is your underlying aerobic base, some people refer to it as the ‘engine’. Essentially, the more oxygen an individual can consume and use, the more work you will be able to do.
If an individual has a high aerobic capacity, there is a greater flow of oxygenated blood to the muscle tissue.
The greater the aerobic capacity of a netball player, the more likely it is, that the netballer can practice and compete for longer and at higher intensities.
This is not only true during aerobic sessions, as the increased blood flow promotes better adaptations during strength based sessions too (due to better recovery between reps, sets and sessions).
This higher blood flow aids recovery during and in-between training sessions, creating a positive feedback loop. A player who can recover more efficiently to a higher training demand and load will gain greater adaptations and make better improvements in performance.
The average effort for a netball match is 6 seconds across all positions, in a recent study, it was found that the average distance covered by a Centre is 8.5km and a GK is 4.2km. This distance, combined with the intermittent nature of the sport, means that netball players need to develop both their aerobic and anaerobic capacities to the highest of levels.
HIIT (high intensity interval training), will optimise your anaerobic and aerobic capacities. For example including one session working at short and sharp intervals of 15-20 seconds at maximum speed and intensity, but also another session involving longer intervals 2-3 minutes ‘on’ 2-3 minutes ‘off’ working constantly at a high level of intensity.
Developing your ‘base’ can be achieved through LISS training (Low Intensity Steady State Training), ensuring that your heart rate does not go past Zone 2 (55%-65% of your Maximum heart rate). This ‘Zone 2’ work can be accumulated during warm-ups, but can also be specifically be targeted by spending some time just working at lower intensities (on a bike 30 minutes not going past 55%-65% of you maximum heart rate etc.)
To put this into perspective when you are playing a netball match, you on average spend half a game at 75% to 85% of your maximum heart rate (which is intense!), so we want to replicate this intensity, but not overtrain, which is why it is important to build this up over time.
Strength, Speed and Power
Strength is extremely important as a netball player. Strength is the ability to generate force and is part of the underlying foundation that will allow us to build speed and power.
Being a strong netball player improves your ability to accelerate, decelerate and withstand actions such as, jumping, sprinting and change of direction. This decreases the risk of injuries and increases the chance of better performances.
Landing is a fundamental skill of lots of movements performed during netball and appropriate lower limb strength training has been shown to reduce the likelihood of injuries. By including jumping and landing in multiple directions within your training, with a focus on landing techniques, can help reduce your chance of injury too.
This can be further developed through, progressive plyometric training such as double leg jumps, single leg hops and controlled landings, these can be included in warm-ups before strength and speed work.
High power movements such as weight-lifting, depth jumps and jumping squats are also beneficial to performance, improving your change of direction, speed, jumping and sprinting.
Without wanting to state the obvious, you need to ensure you are tactically, physically and mentally capable of reading the game and executing skills under physical and mental fatigue.
Practicing 'Ball on Wall', doing target practice, team drills, game related training, video analysis and training positionally specific skills, will enable you to continue developing your netball performances away from a 'match-day'.
Additionally, practicing generic hand eye coordination skills such as juggling and our 'off the wall' drills can help develop reaction time and ball handling. See this link for our 'off the wall' YouTube video, where you can follow along too.
Mobility is essentially our ability to move our body through a range of motion. It is extremely important to keep mobile not only for benefits to performance but also for daily life tasks.
Most of us netballers balance working a full time or part time job and netball, so it is extremely important that you keep your body moving, to reduce chance of injury, increase blood flow in your muscles helping to alleviate DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness).
Tom Morgan (Hy3rid Training) incorporates mobility within his programming. 'Spending 5-10 minutes doing mobility before a session can help us open-up the range of movement that we are going to use in our training sessions. For example, doing some hip opening stretches before squatting can help you to get into a better squatting position. This allows you to target the muscles you intend to use, so you will therefore get more benefit out of the movement.’
Check out the Tom’s mobility flow on this YouTube Link.
This flow focuses around hips and spine.
Stretching after a session can help you to ‘chill-out’ after a session and fall back into a para-sympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) state, allowing you to recover from heightened physical exertion and metabolic activity.
Check out our 15minute mobility flow on this YouTube Link.
This flow focusses on spine, hip and lower body mobility.
Along with the physical components of training, it is imperative not to forget about your mental wellbeing. Some things us Harris’ do and have found help to control thoughts and gain perspective are:
'Deliciously Ella’s Yoga Flows' on YouTube are brilliant, or you can download her app.
'Skill Yoga' is specially designed for athletes, and has more focus on strength and flexibility rather than mindfulness (Download their app).
Give our mobility flow a go too - by clicking the YouTube link above.
The Ten Percent Happier podcast and App is a great place to start.
Wim Hoff (The Ice Man) Method- Download App. It builds psychological and physiological awareness to the body through breathing and cold exposure therapy- it is AMAZING!
The Calm App - which is another easy starting point, there are some great meditation series on there, such as ‘How to meditate’ by Jeff Warren and LeBron James's take of performance mindset.
The Headspace App.
The Mindful Athlete book, by George Mumford.
The ‘Mindset’ book by Carol Dwek gives a brilliant explanation of transitioning into a ‘growth mindset’.
The ‘Daring Greatly’ book by Brene Brown - she also does a great ’Ted Talk’ on vulnerability.
Table Manners Podcast
Deliciously Ella’s Podcast
As seen in her blog, Caroline Tarnowski stated, 'Netball consists of repetitive high intensity movements which makes it very demanding on the body. Nutrition can have a big impact on netball performance, especially if you are training/ playing several times a week, and therefore is it important to get it right.' See the blog on Caroline’s 5 Top Tips for the nutrition of a netballer.
Recovery and Sleep
Building recovery into any training program is extremely important. This is the time the body is able to adapt to the stress of exercise, and when the real 'effect' of training takes place.
Exercise or any other physical work causes, fluid loss, muscle tissue break down and the depletion of energy stores (muscle glycogen).
When athletes allow for recovery it replenishes the energy stores, repairs damaged tissues and allows you to mentally reboot as well. Without this recovery time, the body will continue to break down from intensive exercise, leading to over training and burn out (not fun!!!).
Quantity of Sleep
For athletes sleep is one of the best recovery strategies.
Sleep is arguably one of the most undervalued elements of health, fitness and wellbeing.
Sleep affects an athletes level of cognitive functioning, mood and motivation. In netball we require the ability to process information very quickly and react to that incoming stimulus, so getting enough sleep is especially important.
If you routinely get less than 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night, it can also demolish your immune system (particularly important in the current climate), increase your risk of serious illnesses like cancer and be a key factor in developing Alzheimer’s disease (Mathew Walker - Why We Sleep), so not only important for athlete performance, but also for life and longevity.
Quality of Sleep
Caffeine has a full life of 5 hours and half life of 10 hours, so if you have a coffee at 3pm you can still be affected by it at 1am!! So it is advisable that you don’t have coffee past noon.
Alcohol also greatly affects quality of sleep. It can make us spend more time in deep sleep and less time in extremely important REM Sleep, which is vital for our bodies restoration. The REM sleep stage accounts for 50% more blood flow to the brain, enhancing cardiovascular, emotional and mental health.
It is important to remember that none of the above elements are more or less important than any other and so should all be met with the same performance intention, even if you may find some of it boring or less sport-specific.
Hitting these targets, we believe, is the first step to 'training smart' and therefore maximising your training efforts.
However, trying to implement all of the above in one go can be daunting, so take your time and make small changes everyday - good ways to implement this into your life is by building positive habits over time.
For help on how to do this read:
- Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
Start Training Smart
- ‘Peak’ by Dr Marc Bubbs
- ‘Why we sleep’ by Mathew Walker
- 'The High Performance Podcast' by Jake Humphrey
- The 'Ross Edgely Podcast' and his book 'The Worlds Fittest Book'
- The Beyond Victory Podcast by Nico Rosberg
We incorporate all of the above in our fitness programs, so get in touch on our fitness page to start your journey.
Blog by Rosie Harris.
Fox A, Spittle M, Otago L, and Saunders N. An investigation of in-game landings in elite netball: Implications for injury risk. J Sci Med Sport 15: S229, 2012.
Thomas. A, Jones. P, Comfort. P, Dos’Santos. T, Strength and condition For Netball: A Needs Analysis and Training Recommendations. March 2017