My 9 best tips for families new to netball trials.

1. Go into your first trial with no expectations. Having no disappointments doesn’t mean lowering your standards or accepting less of the experience, it just helps you and your child navigate a new environment with different pressures.

2. Get prepared – talk through the trials with your kids from when you arrive, until you leave.

  • Be punctual. Selectors are watching from the very beginning, as well as watching the clock.
  • Encourage players to check themselves in without you
  • Have their snacks & water packed. The right kind of fuel is key.
  • Throw in a change of socks…just because. You never know when you might need them, or they could prove a handy “reset” in the trials if you need to refresh your mind.
  • Explain to your child that they may be thrown in positions that they’re not used to, or that wouldn’t be their preferred position. Even if this doesn’t happen, make sure they are mentally prepared. If they do play “out of position” get them see it as a challenge and be positive.

3. When your child is asked what positions they should put down? Encourage your child to write down the position they believe will give them the best chance of getting in the team. Maybe they love defence and GK but seem to look a lot shorter than others that they’re playing with and against. Put down WD and show them your stuff…remember that Sharni Layton, a traditional GK, put her hand up for Wing D to get a spot in the Diamonds. Kate Eddy is another great example of a circle defender, now WD with great reach that she can use to her advantage.

4. Put it into perspective – Sometimes our kids can get overwhelmed with try-outs and overthink the trials before they’ve even arrived. If they perform poorly in a drill or game remind them there is always next time. Use phrases like, “we never give up” “lets work on parts of our game ” and “we have a whole year to develop your game” Remind them that you’re proud of them no matter the outcome.

5. The advice to share before your child steps on the court. Here are a few tips my own mum gave me, that really made an impact.

“Everyone has skill, so show them how much you want it, chasing every loose ball.”

“If you make a mistake, don’t worry, just switch to defence mode and try and get it back.”

“Go and introduce yourself to other players and form a connection.”

“When sitting on the side, observe your positions and be aware of what’s needed when you go on.”

It was all positive reinforcement. It was all about growing independence and controlling what I could control.

6. Regarding feedback, most clubs/associations provide unsuccessful players with some points to work on. This is a great opportunity to look at your game and make those improvements, coming back bigger and stronger for next year.  The first State team that I missed out on, I was told I was too slow off the mark. I made it my priority to work on my take take off and footwork, which ended up ultimately becoming the greatest strength to my game throughout my career. That’s why taking the feedback with a positive mindset “what can I improve!”, not “what I am bad at” is really important.

7. Celebrate others success. This is one of the greatest bits of advice I have ever been given. “Be happy for others”, “your day will always come”.

If your child can get that drummed into them, they will always be happy (and successful) in whatever they do, not just netball. Don’t ever dull their their determination, but remove the distraction of jealousy from their mindset.

8. When you get in the car after trials: always ask your child, “how do you feel?”

It’s important to be a good listener and hold back your views on their game or others. I remember mum always saying, “Sarah you put in a great try out, but gosh there were some talented kids there. I think you will be lucky to get in”. I felt supported and loved, but never got ahead of myself.

9. Finally, enjoy the experience. Your child will respond to your energy and positivity no matter what the outcome is.

Love Sarah x