High 5 on the Court as #NetballOnTheRise

Think back to your school days and you may have fond memories of playing Netball in PE lessons. GK (Goal Attack) or WD (Wing Defence) where did you prefer to play on the Netball court? Netball has a rich history set in the UK spanning more than 120 years. It’s no surprise of the sport’s popularity especially amongst girls then and even now.

In this blog we celebrate Netball and its history and take a peek at its recent revival as a competitive team sport. Does your child want to High 5 their way into the game? For parents wanting to learn more about the sport we will also be exploring the benefits of your child donning a famous Netball ‘bib’ and getting onto the court.

Did you know:

  • Netball was first created in England in 1892. (1)

  • The gymslip was invented by Mary Tait a student of Martina Bergman Ӧsterberg in 1897. This new piece of kit “a dress that facilitated practical movement for women playing sport” (2)

  • Traditional 7-a-side Netball is played by over 180,000 women each week! (3)

  • In 1972 Medway Netball League broke a Guinness World Record for playing non-stop competitive Netball for 54 hours! (4)

Netball - An Overview

The traditional game of Netball that we all know and love was first played at ‘Kingsfield’ in the 1890s at a women’s only sports college in Dartford in Kent. Kingsfield was originally set up by Martina Bergman Ӧsterberg, a pioneer for women in sport and education. Throughout the ages there was much debate in what was the correct attire or kit for ladies to wear when playing the sport. Kit shifted from heavy gymslips to tunics and stockings and even bloomers!

Netball was a team sport fondly adopted by women and girls in other countries across the Commonwealth where it is still widely played at a high competitive level. In 1963 the first world Netball Championship Tournament took place in Eastbourne, UK. These competitions take place every four years and have been held in countries such as Australia, Jamaica. New Zealand, Singapore and Trinidad & Tobago (5). Since 1963 the Australian Netball team has won the tournament an incredible 11 times! (5)

Netball is definitely growing in popularity not only in other areas of the world, but also right here in the UK. Recently #NetballOnTheRise was starting to trend on Twitter. This seemed to surprise some people, however once they delve into the facts behind the sport it is clear to see why it is hugely popular and trending once again. England Netball states that they have over ‘100,000 affiliated members, with at least one million women and girls playing Netball during a typical week in the netball season’ (6) Those figures are pretty staggering and show the love and commitment girls have to the sport. More recently England Netball have partnered up with Sky Sports and now netball is one of the few women’s team sports that receives weekly television coverage.

So with Netball on the rise and future female sports stars in the making, what are the benefits of your child getting involved with Netball? What skills does the sport develop and what are the options for children at Primary school and beyond?

Netball - The Benefits

Get Moving!

Netball requires all round fitness. There are lots of different elements to playing this team game. From running, sprinting short distances and changing direction quickly. This all contributes to building up cardiovascular fitness.

Hitting the Target

Netball also requires good hand-to-eye co-ordination in throwing the ball to your team mates. You also need these skills of course to throw the ball into the ‘net’ to score a goal. Learning to throw and catch the ball with grace and ease is a key skill to playing Netball. (7)

Getting Social

Netball is the perfect team sport for girls of all ages. This unique sport requires teamwork as many of the playing positions are restricted to where they can move on the court. Therefore the netball team must cooperate and work together to attack, defend and score goals. This strong camaraderie is often present both on and off the court. Making Netball an extremely sociable sport.

Netball for All

Whatever your child’s age there are a number of ways that they can get involved with Netball. Although Netball is traditionally considered as a girls sport, there are still opportunities for boys to get involved in the sport.

High 5 Netball

High 5 Netball is an entry game into the sport. This is played by children between the ages of 9-11 usually in school. It is the perfect way to get children active and it uses fun and variety to “get them into the game, polish skills and aid fitness” (8). The great thing about High 5 Netball is that players get to change positions on the court during the game. This means that each child gains valuable experience in playing in all positions and therefore makes them more adaptable should they wish to continue playing the sport as they get older.

Netball in School

The fond retro memories we have for the game of Netball usually come from our Secondary School days. 7 a-side Netball is played in Secondary Schools in the UK. Here are where the seven famous Netball positions are included such as: Goal Shooter (GS) Goal Attack (GA) Wing Attack (WA) Centre (C) Wing Defence (WD) Goal Defence (GD) and Goal Keeper (GK). Recently there has also been the introduction of ‘Fast Net’ which is a much faster version of the game. Fast Net was introduced in 2008 through the World Netball Series (9)

1621 Netball

England Netball also supports the team sports into Colleges and Universities. Promoting and highlighting the game amongst girls aged from 16 to 21 years of age.

Netball - The Kit

Grab your bib

Netball bibs are worn over usual gym kit so each player can be identified on the court. These are often provided by the activity provider but check with them beforehand to find out whether your child will need their own to play.

Stay hydrated

Netball is a physical sport so it is important to stay hydrated on and off the court. Make sure your child brings a bottle of water to Netball training. A small healthy snack for after a game will also help your child replace all that energy used up during a game.

Net and erm a ball?

Nets are usually provided by the activity provider but you can buy your own for at home should your child wish to practice. A standard size netball ball is a size 5. Again these are usually provided, but are also easily obtainable online and from sports shops should your child wish to have their own.

Coming up next…

In part two of our special feature of Netball we explore how important team sports are to girls in their development. We take a look at the traditional male dominated sports such as rugby and football and how girls are getting more involved and becoming more visible within these sports.

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(1) englandnetball.co.uk/youth-zone-2/knowledge/

(2) ournetballhistory.org.uk/content/netball-in-england/colleges-netball-in-england/new-gymslips

(3) englandnetball.co.uk/my-game/traditional-7-side-netball/

(4) ournetballhistory.org.uk/content/netball-in-england/club/guinness-book-of-records

(5) ournetballhistory.org.uk/content/events/world-cup/world-championshipnetball-world-cup-results

(6) englandnetball.co.uk/about/

(7) livestrong.com/article/478995-what-are-the-benefits-of-netball/

(8) englandnetball.co.uk/high5/

(9) englandnetball.co.uk/my-game/schools/my-gameschoolsmy-gameschoolsmy-gameschoolsmy-gameschoolssecondary-schools/

#Afterschoolactivities #Netball

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