Boosting girls participation – don’t pass up netball as the sport (plus my fave drills)

These past two years I have had the opportunity to coach netball. Two years ago at my school there was virtually no netball. However with some designated energy into this sport by myself and a colleague numbers in the sport have rocketed. The number of girls participating in sport overall has increased massively and largely due to netball.

Students have had the opportunity to play a sport with their friends, learn new skills, play in a competitive but friendly and supportive environment and the opportunity for some to travel to Abu Dhabi for the BSME Games has seen girls training hard for positions.

When it comes to netball, there seem to be two camps, those who seem to dislike it intently believing that there is little point to it if there is no dribbling and those who really appreciate the game. Maybe you have to have played it to appreciate it or have to have watched high level netball to see how good it can be. I have been fortunate to live in both New Zealand and Australian where playing social netball is the norm. The status of international netball players are alike with other major sports.

I love netball as a game. I find the zoning concept of netball translates to many other invasion games. In netball, players are spaced out because they have to be and other developing athletes in other codes could learn from this. How many times as a PE teacher do you call out in a number of sports ‘spread out!’ High class netball is fantastic to watch. It is fast paced, highly skilled and extremely competitive.

The point of my blog article is to yes hurray netball and promote the sport however primarily it’s for me to have a place to put my favourite netball drills in one space. Many more to follow;

Balloon Pop – this is a great, fun introductory activity to promote discussion about the need to be good on our feet in netball. I use this in the first session since students cannot fail but to enjoy it. Each player needs a balloon and a piece of string and to tie this to their ankle. The aim of the activity is to pop another’s balloon by stomping one of your feet whilst preserving your own. Depending on numbers you can use any number of netball thirds on the court (another way to reinforced the court markings).

Granny’s Footsteps – this is a go-to activity for me. I use this with my reception class in multi-sport activities and have used this with sixth formers. They all love it and it caters for large numbers – critical when you have over 40 students turn up for netball training!! In netball training I use it as an extension to the our warm up to remind students of the footwork rule. Best of all it is competitive and fun! The ‘Granny’ has her back to the players who creep up on her. At any point the ‘Granny’ can turn. Participants must stop as quickly as possible because if they are seen moving by the ‘Granny’ they are sent to the back to start again. Anyone who makes it to the ‘Granny’ becomes the next ‘Granny’.

Footwork and pivot on whistle – a basic drill for beginner players. I would use with primary players and possibly Year 7’s if they have never played before. Using the court (or a third if small numbers) players moving around using different methods, changing direction. Upon the whistle, players have to stop as quickly as possible determining their landing foot. There are a number of progressions to this

  • jump to determine landing foot
  • pivot – players who struggle with this can be given a hoop on the group to practice with. Landing foot inside the hoop with the other foo pivoting around the outside of the hoop.
  • add balls. Players are expected to be ready to catch a ball at any time. Set up players around the outside of the grid passing balls in and back out.

3 Man Weave – Essentially a basketball drill but offers so much to netballers. It practices fast and flat passing (I tend to encourage the chest pass). The pass should be made in front of the player with the receiver signalling and calling for the ball (encouraging positive and assertive communication). The drill forces the players off the ball to work hard and practices footwork in a live drill situation.


Truck and trailer This is a drill from my rugby days with the Wellington NPC team and one that I have replicated when coaching rugby and touch teams but also relevant for netball. It’s great for developing good hands and concentration. You need four cones set up in a square and start with one ball. Players need to get good at passing the ball and then following the ball. It reiterates that even once you have made the pass you should continue to look for work and make yourself available to receive the next pass. When you get good progress to four balls. It’s hard but hard but with some practice it’s achievable!


When introducing netball in PE, another fun variation is Korfball. Try it and see what you think!



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