Mens Netball NSW Appoints Ninja!
MNNSW today announced the appointment of Nat Deegan to the role of Head of Strength and Conditioning (S&C) for their state program. With past and present roles across NSWIS and ACPE, Deegan not only coaches S&C but lectures in it – demonstrating her clear passion for producing world class athletes in any sport she works in.
President Clare McCabe said this latest addition to their powerhouse coaching and officials crew assembled for 2021 Nationals aims to take strength and conditioning to the next level across the squad, and set a new standard for what it takes to represent NSW. “Almost a decade ago, we set a goal to build the best conditioned athletes as the leading pillar of our high performance strategy. Our alumni of coaches (Kelly, Huey, Brown and Tairi) all kept this pillar front and centre, picking young up and coming athletes and setting a standard for what type of conditioning it takes to truly be an elite athlete and play in our opens program. What resulted was a resurgent 23s and Opens program where we are now back amongst the top states, and a bevy of these young players we identified are now amongst the best netball players in the world. So we know conditioning is our competitive edge and we want to take this a step further and expose our whole squad to these standards.”
Supporting Deegan in the design of the program will be former Swift and NSWIS coach turned Men’s State coach Nerida Stewart, who was not backward in coming forward about what elite expectations she has come from and will expect in her 23s boys. “We are setting a standard for what type of commitments we expect of our state program. Hitting a court a few time’s a week isn’t an elite athlete, it’s a netball player. We as coaches are in the business of creating athletes not players, so our new squad focused S&C strategy and program will set a higher standard and make players earn the title of an elite athlete. Players who think they can just rock up and play without the conditioning are disrespecting the honour of wearing the Waratah emblem. No matter what sport you play, wearing the Waratah comes with a standard we want to uphold as a sport.” Stewart said. But this tough love was served with a customary dose of Ned light-heartedness, adding “in any case, who doesn’t want a ripped rig for summer?”
Her thoughts were echoed by newly appointed Opens coach Moira Gaha, one of the most successful nationals coaches in the NSW Women’s program who very much knows what it takes to bring home medals year in, year out. “S&C is about turning up at nationals ready for anything and everything. We want to be the fittest so we can execute skills and game plans under constant fatigue for full quarters and the full week of netball. We want to be the fastest so we can play that beautiful flat and fast 4th gear netball that NSW is known for when we want to bury teams. We want to be the strongest because we know netball is a contact sport and we need our bodies to take the hits and ride the bumps. We want to be the most powerful because when there’s a contest or loose ball to be won which often the big games are decided on, we want to get there first! They are the things athletes need to think about when they are sweating it out in the gym!” Gaha said.
Echoing the sentiments of her two head coaches she will work with, Deegan spoke of her approach to athlete development. “The thing I love about my job is witnessing the results even small conditioning improvements make on a persons on court capabilities and off court wellbeing. My goal is to build fitter, faster and stronger athletes on one hand, and happier and healthier humans on the other. When we get this right, the sky really is the limit as to what this playing group can achieve for themselves and their state.” Deegan also previewed a well rounded program that will be anything but cookie cutter! “S&C is undoubtedly hard work, but done right should also be motivating, fun and fulfilling. I want athletes to look forward to it, not see it as a chore. So we will be creative and flexible in the way we design the program to suit all ages, body types and positional requirements. All I would ask the athletes is to show us some ticker. In my experience the athletes who become the best in their sports have more guts and grit than the rest. They dig in when it gets tough, they do the hard work when no one is watching. I guess I want our sessions to be filled with lots of grimaces as we take on our limits, but lots of grins as we smash through them and find new versions of ourselves!”
Deegan will now work with coaches to build a weekly program for players, consult to coaches to modify and customise programs as needed, and undertake regular fitness testing to analyse the impact of the new program.