Whether it be a long off-season, a season-ending injury or a global pandemic (eek!), every netballer has to take time off at some point. Returning to the court after a long break can be a daunting prospect and it’s not uncommon for preseason nerves to get the better of some players. Recognising the nerves and implementing strategies to calm them will make sure you ace the 2023 season!
Acknowledging the nerves
Nerves are a natural human response to stress, worry and fear and it is totally normal for everyone to feel nervous from time to time. Stepping into a new season can be scary and it is common to fear the unknowns that the season might bring. Players experience preseason nerves for a number of reasons. Figuring out what is causing the nerves is the first step in resolving them. Some causes of nerves include:
- Not knowing what to expect from the season
- Trialling for a new team
- Feeling that you are less fit than last season
- Starting on a new team with players or a coach you don’t know
- Being unsure if your skills are up to standard as last season
- Coming back to a team you haven’t seen since last season
So how can I overcome the nerves?
Training with other people can make it far easier. You could even get your whole netball team involved! You’re making a commitment not only to yourself but to them too and that means you’re less likely to break it.
Once you have pinpointed the cause of your nerves you can figure out what strategies will be best for minimising them. Some strategies to overcome preseason nerves can be a range of things to help you feel more confident. This could be staying more active during the off-season. Try to incorporate ways to stay active through your break, whether that be walking more, grabbing your teammates to get down to the courts as well as eating healthy and not overindulging over the Christmas period. Although it’s great to maintain your level of fitness, it’s also important to honour that this is your time to rest. You have all year where you will be pushing hard. Allow yourself time to have your off days, enjoy that chocolate or ice cream and stay present at the moment rather than already thinking about “how hard pre-season will be”.
When approaching your first session, you could also reach out to your coach to express your nerves. Your coach will most likely love the honesty and understand your feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to your coach, you could find a team manager, a teammate or a friend who has experienced similar feelings. Talking about your experiences and learning from others is the best way you can improve your understanding and work through it.
It is important to remember that not everything at netball is in your control and even if you put in all the hard work, you may still experience preseason nerves, which is totally fine! Just remind yourself that you have done everything you can to make this season great and enjoy yourself once you get back onto the court.
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