Sharni Layton - May 24, 2018

We’re four rounds into SSN 2.0, and the one thing that I’ve noticed is that our game is FAST.

For those of you that think it looks quick watching from the sidelines, you should try standing out there with the ball whizzing around at 100 miles an hour. It’s electric.

After 14 years of playing netball, my level of appreciation for our game just continues to grow fonder.

I was away from the sport for five months last year. Then, two weeks after getting back out on court, I did my ankle. It was a pretty nasty one actually. That meant another eight weeks on the sidelines.

With the season creeping up on us, that left me with only two weeks to run around on court and find my groove prior to round one.

The ball speed and the pace of the game struck me immediately upon returning to the court.

My first thought was HOLY BANANAS. THIS IS FAST!

My second thought was that I’d have a lot of work to do to get back up to scratch.

What I love about netball is the complexity of it.

With such a short amount of space to move in, transition and make plays, you are forced to think quick, act quick and be quick. Otherwise, the game will pass straight through you.

The goal scoring has gone up again this year. And if you consider the way the ball is moving up and down the court, it’s no surprise that the numbers on the scoreboard are higher than ever before.

As a player, you can definitely feel the intensity out there.

The speed has lifted. The players have lifted. The competition has lifted. The game has lifted.

As defenders, we have no easy task. Now, when you throw in the lightning quick ball movement, the fancy, fast footwork and the thrilling match play, well, combatting the power of the attack has never been so difficult.

As an example, on any given play, a GK is thinking, ‘Where is my player?’ Okay got her. ‘Now, where is my GD? Is the GA entering the circle?’ If so, do I block or stay on my own? But then, I also need to keep an eye on the mid-courters in the pockets. ‘Is there a high ball I can go for?’

All of these thoughts zoom in and out of your brain and body every three seconds.

I’m not going to lie, getting back out on court, the speed took me by surprise!

But thanks to my teammates out on court, I’m slowly getting my reaction time back with each and every game played.

During my time off, I kept myself pretty fit. I was doing running sessions, boxing, weights, yoga, pilates and more.

However, NONE of those even slightly compare to the repeated efforts that are required in netball.

That’s why I appreciate and love the game that I am so lucky to be able to play each and every day.

The intensity and power needed, the movement required, the efforts expended and the short bursts of energy (with both your mind and body) make our game one of the hardest to play.

The heaviness in the legs, the tightness in the chest, the determination required to keep going when your body is yelling STOP. I dare anyone to give it a go.

And then, when you’re fried and puffing more than a steamed train, you have to stay calm and make the right decision under extreme pressure.

Pass to the right person; attack the right ball. All the time, every time.

I am telling you now that this league has some of the best female athletes in the world.

Suncorp Super Netball has gone to another level, and I’m so glad I get to go along for the ride.

As a team, we’re 1-3, but that’s part of the world of elite sport. You win games, you lose games. But one thing is certain, you always compete.

Teams get better, players get stronger, and the competition is as fierce as ever.

This weekend, we’re taking on the NSW Swifts. It’s going to be a great, tough contest. Where will you be when the first centre pass in thrown?

Tune in and come see how great our sport is in full flight.