Hello. My name is Stacey Jayne Francis and I love to train. I have said it before and I hope to continue to say it again and again. Whether it be sporadically throwing some weights around at my local box dreaming of being a CrossFitter, spending my Saturday mornings struggling around various ParkRun courses or hanging upside down in bat pose at aerial yoga… I’m a big fan!
This love that I have professed about training has been well and truly put to the test this week, however. As we returned to the netball court with Fever for the first time I unfortunately spent the majority of session one trying not to vomit.
Netball in my opinion is unlike any other sport in terms of its stress on the body… dynamic multi-lateral movements, aerial, contested and always combining maximal speed and power with a fundamental rule of the game that requires you to stop dead at less than a moment’s notice.
My fear of the notion of pre-season in general and learnings from past years where I have taken the words ‘off-season’ or ‘down time’ far too seriously means that I tend to train pretty much all year round.
This year specifically I have trained bloody hard in my ‘down time’ but again it seems I am never prepared for the battering that my body (usually feet and lungs) feels when returning to court work. I’m going to go ahead and make a massive generalisation by saying there is a huge fascination within netball in Australia with footwork and SAQ (speed, agility, quickness). My personal experiences as a netballer under Sue Hawkins, Norma Plummer and the West Coast Fever crew are what I’m basing this generalisation on so give me the benefit of the doubt.
When left to my own devices I will always sneak some prehab in, follow a weights programme and complete in a variety of nauseating fitness sessions. I will not, however, be found working on my footwork - because I hate it! Nor will I be found on a field with cones and mini hurdles working on my SAQ as luckily I have always naturally been quick enough when in the parameters of a netball court. This I have now come to realise has been a huge mistake and means that my pre-season with Fever is spent in a world of pain and confusion.
My confusion comes mostly from the fact that I have an appalling short-term memory. My ability to recall instantly what has just been said to me is a constant worry. Combine that with sidesteps skills that a cast of crabs would have a laugh at and the first 30 minutes of court sessions during pre-season have me close to tears.
Coach Stace (Stacey Marinkovich) is a fan of throwing some cones down, sharing a war and peace length explanation of the markers to hit and footwork patterns required throughout. She will then, at the end of her explanation (several minutes in 😉 which sometimes even requires her to consult her notepad) say “…and that is one rep, compete XXX.” It is at this point I am frantically trying to recall which cone I even start at, whether I have to half-roll after I’ve gone for the back and up at the green cone whilst also looking around to see if I can find an ally in my confusion. Thankfully I can always rely on Kaylia (Stanton) to clarify with Coach Stace what we are doing but generally I am at my most challenged at the start of our training sessions. I know what to expect now, although when I first stepped on court to train with the team last December and was met with footwork patterns that required a NASA level algorithm to complete that I considered asking to go straight back home.
At the time of writing this we have five months and 20 days to go until our first game and I am on week two back. I’m hopeful that this cruel and unusual punishment can’t continue past Christmas! …can it?!?