Monday, November 20, 2006

The Tao of Indoor Netball

Listening to: Riot Act-Pearl Jam, and Doubt-Jesus Jones.

Tonight we played the same team we played last week. Our line up was slightly different this week, theirs was almost completely different. I thought their line up this week was better than last week, but we beat them by more than we beat them by last week. We had a slightly better game. Despite missing two regulars, our sub is a very fast learner, and brings a good game. And we finished strongly, building our composure in the last quarter while destroying our oppositions.

By my standards, I had a wildly varying game. Overall I'd give myself 6/10. My biggest issue was never getting into the game mentally, meaning I had to think too much about what I was doing, rather than going all zony and playing instinctively (I play much better when I am zoning). As a result of not zoning I was all over the place, physically and mentally, usually in the wrong for both.

I have been playing indoor almost continuously since early 1996. I have had only two or three complete seasons where I was not in a team somewhere. Several seasons have been spent playing in multiple teams at once (playing for two teams is ideal. More than two rapidly becomes unmanageable). I think right now my game is as good as it has ever been, although I think a comparison with my 1997 game self would be fun. I was a lot more aerial then, and a little bit faster. I spent a complete season at defence around that time. I only specialised in attack a few years ago. I had a near perfect shooting game a couple of years ago, missing only my last shot out of twenty or so.

I set very high standards (possibly impossibly high) for my game performance. If I feel I haven't lived up to them, played badly, and thus let my team-mates and myself down, I beat myself up about it. This is a reflection of low to middling self esteem I think. I've also been known for being very negatively expressive on the court, most commonly about umpiring decisions, something which I am actively trying to eliminate. I think I am much better at this than I used to be, although I still have lapses. I try too hard sometimes, and get frustrated when things don't work out. If I feel there is no chance of winning, I stop trying. My view of my own game and skills tends to veer toward the irrationally negative, interrupted by euphoric peaks of brilliance.

The highs outweigh the lows though, and keep me coming back. A great game is only a few quarters away.

I pride myself on using skill and knowledge to gain advantage, rather than dirty tricks. I am a very clean player. That said, I have been known to accidentally on purpose run into/through people if circumstances demanded it and after a fair amount of provocation. I will counter illegal play with illegal play to get the job done if absolutely required. I am fearless on court, and don't get physically intimidated, unlike in real life.

At times I think I can be a very good player. Sometimes I can be very average. I still haven't figured out how to play centre effectively, but it is still a relatively new position for me. After playing half court for so long, I am comparitively lazy over the full court distance.

In the last decade I have managed to learn a few things, and have been compiling them lately into a sort of Tao, in an effort to strengthen my mental game.

The 'Tao te ching' of Indoor Netball

1. Even if they are completely wrong, the umpire is always right.
2. No amount of gesticulating, eye rolling, or verbal discourse has ever changed an umpires call.
3.You are not the best player on the court. Sometimes you are, but this is generally a flawed assumption. The best indoor netball player in the universe is out there somewhere. Chances are its not you.
4. Even if you think you do, you may never know all the rules.
5. The ability to shoot well and consistently is as fragile as it is wonderful.
6. It is foolish to expect to enjoy every game. Some games will suck, and there is nothing you can do about it.
7. Winning every game rapidly becomes boring. Losses must be endured, to remind how good winning feels.
8. You are only as good as your last pass, shot, or play.
9. Old age and experience can indeed triumph over youth and raw skill.
10. Sometimes the perfect pass will be intercepted, and the perfect shot will not drop.
11. Sometimes no shots will drop, for no good reason other than mystic universal law.
12. No matter how good you think you are playing on a given day, you can always encounter someone better.
13. Umpires are not all seeing, nor all knowing. Sometimes you do know more about the rules than they do.
14. Oppositions will cheat and get away with it.
15. The net is both your friend and your enemy. Use it wisely and it becomes your seventh player. Use it unwisely, and it becomes your oppositions.
16. Umpires are not always neutral.
17. You can play brilliantly and still lose.
18. Pressure shooting cannot be taught, only learned.
19. No-one is good at penalty shoot outs.
20. Three seconds and three feet are infinitely variable measurements.
21. Tall players are often lazy. Short players are often underestimated.
22. Every player has a weakness in their game, somewhere.
23. If someone is trash talking, they are often hiding a weakness in their game. Or they are just an idiot. There is no sweeter pleasure than silencing a trash talker by out-playing them.
24. Good players don't need to trash talk to wear down their opponent.
25. Over aggresiveness, and short tempered opposition must be exploited. Rage focusses your game initally, but quickly overwhelms and destroys it. Composure is everything.
26. Sometimes, you need to take the hit to hold your position. Take the ball and brace for impact.
27. You are not more important than your team.
28. Sometimes medicocre teams will be elevated by single excellent players, who you will not be able to neutralise.
29. Never disparage your team on the court. Not cool.
30. You will almost always play better when filling in for another team than when playing for your own.
31. The object of the exercise is enjoyment.
32. There are always new tricks to be learnt.
33. Knowing how to fall is a skill.
34. Win with grace, lose with honour. And more grace.
35. Try to always play with humour. Some games it just isn't your day.

Feel free to add your own.


Not Kate said...

36. If you don't take the game seriously, it's an insult to your opposition. It's hard for them to get excited about an intercept if you're laughing at each other over it....
37. It's not good calling for the ball if you're not open.
38. Even if you yell out 'NO!' your teammate may still pass you the ball - be ready for it.
39. It is a tactical error to not get physical and contact if your opposition is doing it and getting away with it. Play to the ref.
40. When you do something good, it is more intimidating to act non-challant, as if you do that all the time [I heard a college football coach say that on David Letterman once 'I don't want my boys screaming and doing cartwheels when they score a touchtown - I want them to act as if they've done it before']
41. Refs with big egos are dangerous. A lot of people go into reffing for the power-factor....
42. Giving a teammate the evils never makes them play BETTER.
43. The stupidest shot in netball is a 1-pointer just inside the arc. Unless you're Irene.
44. A good team never has to settle for shots more than a metre away from the hoop.
45. Sometimes you can can only hope to contain a good player [from a strategy of defending Michael Jordan - 'You can't stop him, you can only try to contain him']
46. Some players seem to shoot BETTER when you have a hand in their face.
47. There's nothing wrong with little passes.
48. Move TO the pass.
49. Playing drunk is fun!
50. It's like a chess game. Anticipate where players are moving to and what spaces they have control of when you pass the ball. Just like in basketball, pass in front of the player so they can run onto it.
51. Never pass to the big-man's feet.
52. There is never a place for slow-loping- floaty passes. NEVER.
53. When you get injured, try not to hold up the game. Crawl off the court.
54. Short players will get away with more. They are more discreet about it - out of eye-level.
55. If a lob has been intercepted three times in a row.... stop trying it. For the love of god!
56. Leave the ball alone if it is not your team's throw-in. Especially don't roll it in the opposite direction or roll it at a pathetically slow rate towards the player waiting for it.
57. Giving the ref an expectant or questioning look is much more effective than SAYING anything. And they find it harder to tell you off for this....
58. Let the ball roll along for ages before you pick it up gives the opposition more time to set up their defence when you finally do try to pass/shoot it. Speed is of the essence.

Anonymous said...

Your blog came up when I posted "indoor netball" two pointer distance" into Google. I'm trying to find the answer to this question without much success. On the official rules it says 3.6x7.2, but that would make it a perfect half circle from the goal post line. Every court I have played at has more distance at the sides. Anyway, you seem like a indoor netball guru, so it would be appreciated if you could let me know. Cheers. :-)

Off-Black said...

Hello Anonymous, I have no idea how long ago you posted this comment, so hopefully you are still checking in occasionally.

In my experience the two point distance as measured from the hoop to the top of the circle (which is actually only a half circle. anyway) has varied slightly from centre to centre. I have never formally measured it, but your given figures sound about right. A complete half circle I don't think happens very much, as at both of my regular haunts of Petone and Newtown centres in Wellington the shot from the side is visibly further from the hoop than from the top of the circle. Another factor in play is the distance the hoop protrudes from the back net. Petone's hoops are very close to the net, Newtown's about a foot away.

I have always found two point shooting easier at Petone than at Newtown. I suspect their circles are a little smaller, perhaps due to slightly narrower courts (another visible difference, the gap between the circle and the side of the court).

There is another centre in Upper Hutt that I have played at that doesn't actually have a circular arc, instead it has a hexagonal one with straight lines, which definitely destroys any chance of a consistent shooting distance. Interesting to play on though.

In short, to answer your question, I am not entirely sure.
Thanks for asking and taking an interest anyway.