The defensive positions in netball may not be the glamorous ones, but good defenders are every bit as important as good attackers and shooters. Defenders have to work hard both physically and mentally, and while they may not get the credit for doing things right, they will no doubt get the blame if they do things wrong. In addition to closing down attacking players, defenders have to be aware that as a defender they will attract the umpire’s full attention and must be careful not to be called for contact.
- Do stay close to the attacker and adopt a side-by-side or side-on defending style.
- Do think about what you are doing on the court.
- Do back off when called for contact.
- Do take a half step back when called for obstruction to show the umpire that you are listening.
- Do stay on your toes and be ready to accelerate when required.
- Do spend lots of time doing defensive netball drills with your defending partner. Check out resources such as http://www.sportplan.net/ for examples.
- Do practice your defender’s stretch and jumping on a daily basis.
- Do try to catch every rebound ball rather than tapping it. There is no point in just tapping the ball out of court and conceding possession.
- Do communicate with your fellow defenders.
- Do become very familiar with the International Netball Federation rules.
- Don’t run backwards down the court allowing the attacker to push you backwards.
- Don’t be four or five metres in front of the attacker, giving her space to throw and pass at will.
- Don’t just run around hoping to get the ball from a poor pass or error. Put pressure on the attacker. The harder you make her job, the more likely she is to make an error. England Netball runs coaching workshops on essential defending skills.
- Don’t leave everything up to your defending partner, or act as an individual.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You will inevitably be pulled up by the umpire, as each umpire is different. Just make sure that you adjust to their calls.
- Don’t stand flat footed, as you won’t be able to accelerate when needed.
- Don’t hold onto a skirt to improve your defending reach. You need both hands free to rebound or to protect a pass.