Updated: Oct 18, 2019
I sat in the quad in a tight circle with the year 6 netball girls a couple of weeks ago. They are a fantastic team with an impressive record but they were all nervous in the build up to the netball grand final. It was the first time the school had made it that far and they had a good chance to win. I had heard whispers from them like..."The other team are great and we’re not going to beat them". "We’re going to lose". "There’s going to be a lot of people watching…what if we mess up?" When they’d played big games earlier in the season, they had sometimes panicked and on occasion frozen, missed shots at goal that they’d normally get, thrown rushed, wild passes or made decisions that were out of character….they felt the pressure and it affected their confidence.
I was asked to speak to them to prepare them mentally for the final. I thought to myself…What am I going to say to a bunch of 11 year old netball girls? But when I really thought about it, it was no different to how I react if I’m under pressure or doing something for the first time…lacking confidence.
Our chat went something like this:
Why do you play?
I asked each of them why they played netball…collectively they responded; It’s good fun, it makes us happy, we enjoy playing the game and we enjoy playing with our friends. So, when you’re on the court remember why you’re there…for fun, for enjoyment, for your friends...Smile and enjoy the experience.
You deserve to be here:
You have won all but one game in the last 17 weeks and the team that beat you early in the season, you beat to get here 2 weeks ago. You’ve scored nearly 300 points in the tournament and beaten everyone else here including the team you’re playing today. You are a brilliant netball team and have earned the right to play in the final.
You have prepared enough?
Nearly all of you play 3 times a week and have trained 3 times a week not to mention extra shooting practice. All of those extra training sessions that you’ve reluctantly attended means you have put in the extra effort to be well practiced, well drilled and confident in your ability. Go out and play your game. Don’t worry about the score or your opposition. Focus on your game and the rest will happen.
I asked them to stand, face each other and congratulate each other on being an amazing netball player and all proud to be part of the team.
They went out there and owned the game. The opposition were brilliant but as our team played their game, the goals started to come and everything started to flow. Good passing, good defense and good strategy. The trophy is now sitting in our school for the first time ever.
These are lessons that I will constantly remind myself of when I’m feeling nervous about anything…a race, a conversation, an interview.
Why am I here? I do deserve it and I am prepared.
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