What’s the Most Effective Way to Teach Ball Handling Skills to Junior Netball Players?

Netball is a thrilling sport that requires a great deal of skill and agility. Among the most important skills in this game are ball handling skills. In netball, the way a player handles, passes, and interacts with the ball can greatly influence the game’s outcome. Therefore, coaches invest a lot of time and effort into refining their players’ ball handling skills. For junior players, the challenge is even more significant.

Today, we will delve into the most effective methods of teaching ball handling skills for junior netball players. Together we will explore different drills, techniques, and practical approaches to help young athletes improve their performance.

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Understanding The Basics of Ball Handling in Netball

Before we start exploring the drills for improving ball handling skills, it’s absolutely crucial to understand the basics of the game. Netball is a unique sport, with rules and techniques that differentiate it from sports like basketball. The way a player handles the ball in netball, the types of passes they can make, and the speed at which they need to move and react are all different.

Ball handling in netball mainly revolves around three key actions – catching, carrying, and passing the ball. While this may seem simple, the complexity lies in the execution. A netball player needs to catch and pass the ball within three seconds – and this can be a significant challenge for junior players.

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Understanding these basics will set the foundation for the drills and techniques we will later discuss.

Drills to Improve Ball Handling

Once players have grasped the basics of ball handling in netball, it’s time to move onto drills that can help improve these skills. Well executed drills can significantly enhance a player’s understanding of the game, their reaction time, and their ability to make quick decisions under pressure.

One effective drill is the ‘Pass and Move’ drill. In this exercise, two players will start by standing a comfortable distance apart. Player A will pass the ball to Player B, who will catch it, and then move to a different spot before passing it back. This drill helps players improve their passing and catching skills while also adding an element of movement.

Another drill is the ‘Feeder Worker’ drill. It involves a feeder who stands in one place, and a worker who moves around receiving and passing the ball. The feeder’s job is to accurately pass the ball to the worker, and the worker must return the pass as quickly as possible. This drill helps improve passing accuracy and speed, and encourages players to think on their feet.

Using Sportsplan for Structured Learning

An invaluable tool for coaching netball is Sportsplan. It is an online platform with a plethora of resources for coaches, including pre-made drills, training programs, and more. By integrating Sportsplan into your coaching routine, you can provide structured, effective learning for your players.

With Sportsplan, coaches can create a tailored plan for each player, focusing on their specific weaknesses. For instance, if a player struggles with passing under pressure, you could select drills that simulate these conditions. By targeting individual areas of improvement, you can see significant progress in your players’ ball handling skills.

Reinforcing Skills Through Repetition and Feedback

The key to mastering any skill, including netball’s ball handling, is repetition. Players need to perform drills regularly and receive constructive feedback to improve. This feedback can help them understand where they’re going wrong and how they can correct their mistakes.

Coaches should reinforce the importance of regular practice and provide positive reinforcement when players show improvement. It’s also crucial to create an environment where players feel comfortable asking for help and admitting when they’re struggling. This open feedback system can significantly improve the overall team performance and player development.

Making Practice Fun and Engaging

Finally, while serious and focused practice is crucial, it’s equally important to keep training sessions fun and engaging. Incorporating games and friendly competitions can make drills more enjoyable and motivate players to push themselves.

You could arrange ‘passing races’ where players compete to make the fastest passes, or ‘accuracy contests’ where they aim to make the most accurate passes. These games can create a positive, competitive environment and make practice something players look forward to.

Teaching ball handling skills to junior netball players is no easy task. It requires patience, strategic planning, and an understanding of each player’s strengths and weaknesses. However, with the correct approach, utilising effective drills, tools like Sportsplan, and constant feedback, you can see your players improve significantly. Remember, the ultimate goal is to help these young athletes enjoy the sport, improve their skills, and build their confidence in the game.

Incorporating Ball Handling Skills in Game Situations

One of the effective ways to impart ball handling skills in netball is to incorporate them into game situations. This gives the players a clear picture of how these skills come into play during an actual game and the importance of mastering them.

One such drill that mimics a game-like situation is the ‘Centre Pass Drill’. In this drill, the offensive players line up in the centre while the defender stands between them. The ball is passed amongst the offensive players while the defender tries to intercept. This drill develops the agility and quickness of the offensive players in passing the ball and the defender’s anticipation and interception skills.

Alternatively, you can employ the ‘Archie Dunnill Drill’ which is designed to enhance both passing and catching skills. In this setup, a player will pass the ball to a fellow player who quickly passes it back. The initial passer then passes the ball to the next player in line, and the process repeats. The fast-paced nature of this drill forces the players to react quickly, improving their agility and accuracy.

These drills not only help the players improve their ball skills but also develop their understanding of the game, strategic thinking, and teamwork.

The Importance of Warm-up Drills in Netball

Before diving into the intensive drills, it is crucial to start with some warm-up drills. Warm-up exercises prepare the body for the upcoming physical activity, increasing blood flow, and warming up the muscles to prevent injuries.

For netball, there are specific drills that can act as great warm-ups while also improving ball handling skills. The ‘Connected Ways’ drill is an exemplary warm-up drill. The players form a circle, and the ball is passed around in a predetermined pattern. This drill not only warms up the players but also enhances their passing skills as they need to be accurate and fast to maintain the rhythm.

Another effective warm-up drill is the ‘Stay Connected’ drill. Here, pairs of players will throw and catch a ball while maintaining physical contact, challenging their coordination and ball handling skills. These warm-up drills serve the dual purpose of preparing the players physically for the training session while also working on their ball handling skills.


Teaching ball handling skills to junior netball players is a gradual, consistent process that requires dedication and planning. It goes beyond merely throwing and catching the ball. It’s about understanding the game, its rules, and how to react in various scenarios. Whether it’s the ‘Pass and Move’ drill, the ‘Feeder Worker’ drill, the ‘Centre Pass Drill’, or the ‘Archie Dunnill Drill’, each activity serves a specific purpose in the overall development of the player.

Simultaneously, platforms like Sportsplan can be a valuable asset, offering structured and customizable learning plans. Lastly, feedback and repetition are crucial components in this learning process, along with making the training enjoyable and engaging.

Mastering ball handling skills can significantly boost a player’s performance in netball. As coaches, let’s strive to deliver these skills in the most effective, enjoyable, and encouraging way, so our players develop not just as netball players, but also adopt the sport’s love and spirit.