Getting ahead of the game
JAMAICA’S Fast5 Netball World Series Coach Shawn Murdock says the key to the squad’s preparation for the tournament is to concentrate on the players’ capacity for critical thought and decision-making.
The Fast5 Netball World Series is to be staged from November 11 to 12 at Wolfbrook Arena in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The world’s six most experienced Fast5 women’s teams — New Zealand, Australia, England, Jamaica, South Africa, and Malawi — are to compete at the event.
For the Fast5 Netball World Series, each team will field five players at a time, as opposed to the seven in regular netball matches. Each quarter lasts six minutes, with two-minute breaks in-between quarters, and 30-second injury timeouts.
In addition, teams are allowed to use rolling substitutions, with no stoppages in play per substitution and unlimited substitutions per quarter. Each team can separately nominate one “power play” quarter in which each goal scored by that team counts for double points.
The goal shooter and goal attack may shoot goals from anywhere in the goal third. These goals count for two points if shot from between the inner and outer goal circles, and three points if shot from outside the outer goal circle — in a power-play quarter they would count for four and six points respectively.
Murdock says putting the girls in practice games will test them and place focus on the ability of players to reason and make choices.
“We’re playing Fast5 practice matches but for the first two quarters we are allowing the girls to play against seven of the guys. We’re actually just working their ability to think and work the ball through, and their ability to make decisions when the court is crowded,” Murdock told the Jamaica Observer.
“I feel like once they move…up to five-on-five it’s easier for them to transition because we’re playing with a small amount of players. When they work through the seven it gives us a chance for the players to think, make better decisions [such as] how to attack the ball, and just be free on court.”
Murdock, who will work as co-coach alongside Nicole Aiken-Pinnock, says the team is young but with many returning players and some new additions the new look should augur well for the Sunshine Girls.
“Training is going on well so far,” he said. “It’s a young squad but most of the girls are back from last year. Of course, they never had a good training last year and so we want to ensure that we’re the better this year so we have seven of those ladies in the squad now, and we’re looking to add some new players in the group as well. We’re looking to see how that kind of chemistry and drilling will work.”
Given the skill on the team Murdock says there would be competition for positions on the final roster, and the coaches anticipate it will be challenging to choose the final 10 players.
“Now we have a squad of 13 players but 10 will be the final touch of the team,” he said. “Some of the ladies are pushing themselves because, of course, we only have spots for 10 of them — and that’s good because once they come and they know that there’s competition,… they’re fighting to get a spot of the team.
“There are some people who we kind of have an idea who will get through easily but there are some that will come down to some decisions by the selectors in terms of finalising. So I think, based on the couple of players we have here, it’s going to be difficult to pick the final 10. Some people are almost sure picks but there are some who we’re not so sure about, and so it’s almost a critical decision from the selectors.”
The Sunshine Girls finished sixth last year, and Murdock says the goal is to improve upon that performance by utilising the experience gained from playing in tournaments, and the World Cup. He says that with more exposure and experience the team will achieve better results.
“Last year felt like we lacked experience. This year the ladies have the experience,” he said. “Some of these ladies have played in the World Cup as well so there’s a lot of exposure during the year — and we’re hoping that we’ll get some results from that experience that they would have gotten.”