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Being a Good Defender

It is not difficult to get around taller opposition as a defender. It’s all in technique. When I first started coaching I had a defender who was 5′ 3″, she was dynamic around the court and since then I’ve had numerous players who aren’t anywhere near 6 foot tall and they manage brilliantly.

The key to being a good defender is reading the play – using the first five minutes or so to work out the way the ball is coming in.

Anticipation is another practice I have all Rep players develop. I encourage these players to stay close to their opponent, really hassle her to make the player earn every ball. Lastly every defender must be prepared to run and never give up.

I have not been too concerned about defenders giving away penalties, especially out near the edge of the goal circle. As a past defender myself I recognize the frustrations that defenders have to put up with being pulled up for indiscretions.

Never be afraid to contest the ball as this is how you improve.

Watch the “spring back” off the goal ring when your opponents are practicing their shooting, get an eye for how far the rebound goes out then when you take the court adjust your position ready to take the rebound.

Many of our Rep defenders are on the short side because these players must be able to move and know how to hassle for the ball. Speed and agility comes before height. Being able to leap has a greater advantage than height.

Tall goal shooters are often guilty of laziness. Use this to your advantage and keep forward of these shooters.

It may surprise you, but goal shooting is the very best reflex exercise you can do for netball. Hone a skill to improve another one. As a defender goal shooting practice builds great reflexes in rebounding and attacking the goal ring (not literally) and terrific hand eye coordination.

In summary:

  1. Read and anticipate play by looking at the body language of the players.
  2. Don’t be afraid to contest play and hassle for the ball.
  3. Position yourself for the rebound off the goal ring.
  4. Teach yourself to leap, which more than compensates for lack of height.

See "How to Defend" training article.  


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Courtside Tactical Play 

Tactics #1
This crucial tactic will
show you how the professionals get the ball past the defenders to the goal shooters.

Please note: All players swap between being attackers and defenders depending on which team has possession of the ball. You need to know how goal shooters work the circle otherwise GA & GS will have all their own way. Tactics #2 will show you what's going on in the circle!

Tactics #2
You have got the ball to the shooters. What next? It is critical all players know how to work the goal circle to prevent a turnover.

Also learn the goal shooting technique that will have you shooting a high percentage of goals in any tough competition.

Download your free netball tactics ebook