Netball New Zealand “develop players in a way that is aligned with the demands of the game”

New Zealand’s national netball team, the Silver Ferns, are the current World Champions and one of the premier teams in women’s sport. The Silver Ferns have used Catapult for the past four years, recently upgrading to our latest device, Vector, and have found using our wearable technology invaluable in the lead up to, and during, major competitions. 

We spoke to Keir Hansen, Head of High Performance at Netball New Zealand, to find out how they have been using Catapult. Responsible for the entire high performance program, ranging from the Silver Ferns to entry-level teams, Keir comes alive when discussing the impact that Catapult has had. 

Although having used Catapult for a few years prior, after the 2015 World Cup, where the Silver Ferns finished in second place, the use of Catapult’s wearable technology was increased significantly in the high performance program. One of the key reasons for choosing Catapult was for its ability to track indoors. Keir highlights the keenness of performance staff to understand the team’s performance in more detail, and Catapult was able to provide key insights on the demands of the game. 

Tracking, monitoring, and evaluating are three key pillars in their sports performance strategy, and using Catapult, Silver Ferns strength and conditioning staff are able to help “develop players in a way that is aligned with the demands of the game.”

In terms of metrics, Silver Ferns strength and conditioning staff use total load, load per minute and accelerations and deceleration on a regular basis. In addition, change of direction metrics are also analysed and are vital in evaluating what individual players are doing on the court. “Thanks to these specific metrics, we are able to modify a training session, or utilise them from a performance perspective.”  

Load monitoring becomes an important factor in the Silver Ferns training schedule, and they place emphasis on measuring how much stimulus is being applied at any given time, and how they can monitor it with real precision. “Being able to benchmark the world’s best performance helps players understand what it takes to deliver.”

Injury prevention and recovery also play a big part in the program. Keir highlights that “Catapult’s load management capabilities are invaluable, especially being able to optimise a player’s individual load based on their specific injury status.”

When it comes to specific positions, Catapult is able to help quantify individual metrics. “Of course it depends on the demands on the individual, and what the given game strategy is, but overall, we know that the mid-court players cover the most distance, and have the greatest load during a game. Through the data, we get a sense of if the players are performing to their optimum level in a given role.”

Ensuring that players buy into the technology and are educated around the importance of sports science has come easily for the Silver Ferns sports science staff. “The players receive feedback on every training session and game. They know the data is ‘part of our language’ within our team – there is an expectation from them to receive their data and feedback.”

Keir highlights the most important thing leading into major competitions is getting the load right in preparation. “monitoring plays is a key part in optimising load in preparation for a tournament. The Catapult units are a great tool that enable progressive building of intensity into training and matchplay”.

A particularly intense period was during the Netball World Cup in 2019, with players competing in a busy schedule of seven games in 10 days. “During the World Cup, the biggest thing for us to measure was the cumulative load. This meant it was not a case of looking at one game in isolation, but a case of what the team needs to deliver over the course of the ten days, particularly given they need to deliver their best performances in the last few days of the tournament. We used Catapult to ensure we had twelve fully fit players that delivered on the last two days of the tournament.”

For more information on how Catapult helps teams operate at an optimal level of fitness, visit here.