I can’t tell you just how happy I am to be playing netball again. We returned to netball training a couple of months ago, training in bubbles of 6, in line with England Netball Guidance. By the second week, we had engaged over half of our players and were putting in 5 bubbles a week, across the county.
As a Coaches, it just felt wonderful, being busy sorting training plans and seeing all our players again, as a player it was just so good to be back amongst my team mates.
We used the bubbles to introduce our players to the management of netball during the Coronavirus pandemic. I issued all my players with their own ball and cones, which they cleaned before and after the session and took home with them, minimising sharing of equipment. All the players were issued with their own bottle of hand sanitiser which they used after each drill and we cleaned the balls every 15 minutes. There was of course, no physical contact between players during training and, following my fellow coaches’ lead, we used a camping chair as a static defender, to practice defensive drills. Lots of fun and very effective for training purposes!
I confessed to my bubble team mates that I had ‘dipped’ a bit in the middle of lockdown. I had started off well, going running and doing virtual fitness online most days. I even went right outside my comfort zone and did some virtual sessions for my own players. It made me feel a bit better and got me moving around and doing something ‘netbally,’ but online just can’t substitute for team sport and after a couple of weeks, number waned, and so did my mood.
It didn’t help that I live in one of the areas subject to the first local lockdown. As most of the country started to go out, socialise, go to the gym and play sport, me and my neighbours were required to remain at home and it was hard to see friends and family out enjoying themselves, whilst we were still in lockdown.
For that month, I really couldn’t be bothered to do much. I forced myself into a couple of classes and enjoyed getting out on my bike a couple of times, but mostly, I just found myself working until late at night and I began to feel exhausted and a bit depressed.
Then the restrictions were lifted on the local lockdown, and at pretty much the same time, England Netball announced we could move to Stage 4a of the Return – modified training. We immediately went into planning mode, and had the bubbles up and running by the following Monday.
We haven’t looked back since.
COVID has changed life as we know it for the foreseeable future, but the Netball Family has taken the risks of transmission very seriously and made sensible modifications to mitigate the risks. If you haven’t yet returned to your group or club, I would encourage you to go along to a training session, just as a spectator, and see how the new arrangements work and how safely netball can be played, in this ‘new normal.
I promise, you’ll feel better for it.