A netball match lasts for 60 minutes, broken down into 15-minute quarters with a few brief rest breaks in between. To make it through each quarter, and the entire game, a netball player needs a high level of aerobic fitness.
Interval training, speed training, circuit training and drills can help a netball player improve both cardiovascular fitness and game-specific skills.
Interval training involves completing bouts of intense exercise followed by periods of recovery at a lower intensity. The ration of work to recovery is dependent on the aim of the training session.
For example, if you're training for aerobic fitness for netball, you would work hard for about two to three minutes and recover for a brief period of 30 to 60 seconds.
Players can complete intervals on the court. A session might include running lengths of the netball court for a set time, such as two minutes, followed by a 30- to 60-second walk. The intervals would be repeated several times.
Fartlek is the Swedish word for "speed play." This type of training is particularly effective for netball players, because it combines a range of training speeds and intensities, which is what different positions use during a game.
Fartlek is a combination of sprints, jogs and walks in succession continued for a prolonged period such as 20 minutes. Using the netball lines, normally the outside lines, the course can consist of jogging along one sideline, walking the end line, sprinting the opposite sideline and walking the end line to the beginning in a box formation.
Circuit training improves cardiovascular fitness and builds strength. This type of training consists of several different stations, which players will work their way around. Players stay at each station for a period of time, typically 45 seconds to 2 minutes, after which there is a brief period of rest before moving on to the next station.
Each station can include either a fitness exercise or a sport-specific movement. An example of stations might be: sit-ups, push-ups, shuttle runs, netball shooting, passing and footwork practice.
Part of every netball training session should include some specific drills that improve the player's skills in passing, shooting, stable body positioning, catching, footwork, dodging, pivoting and forward movement. Performing these drills with intensity will naturally improve aerobic fitness.
An example of an aerobically challenging shooter drill involves two players. Player 1 positions the ball in the semi-circle at one end of the court. Player 2 runs from the ball to touch the sideline of the court, then runs back to the ball, picks it up and shoots it. Player 1 retrieves the ball, places it anywhere in the semi-circle and player 2 repeats the drill. The goal is for player 2 to get 10 shots in as little time as possible.