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Source: Massey University

Dr Dennis Slade and colleagues from the School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition recently helped out with Central Netball’s coaching development programme.

Emeritus Professor Gary Hermansson.

Central Netball’s coaching development programme was given a helping hand recently when three Massey academics provided insights into psychological, historical and practical aspects of netball.

Two current members of the School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition, Dr Dennis Slade and Lana McCarthy, along with former member, Emeritus Professor Gary Hermansson supported the programme held at Massey University’s Sport and Rugby Institute at the Manawatū campus last month.

Professor Hermansson, who has been influential in making sport psychology an accepted and holistic part of New Zealand Commonwealth and Olympic games programmes, also provided grass roots coaches with insights into preparing players in terms of mental discipline. He shared anecdotes about how mental preparation was important in elite sport, while also providing the coaches with tools they could comfortably apply in their coaching programmes.

Ms McCarthy shared the findings of her recently completed PhD thesis, Coaches, captains and constructing culture: A case study of the Silver Ferns, which explores the historical development of a winning culture in the Silver Ferns. She was overwhelmed by the interest and response she received, saying “Some of the work I had prepared I just had to let go because the discussion and questions came so thick and fast the time allocated just flew.

“It was gratifying to get this interaction as a response to the years of hard work that goes into a thesis.”

Dr Slade delivered a practical workshop reflecting new research on how to teach players game structure within the context of games.

“This is a new direction for me and one you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the sport coaching world. Essentially, I turned netball into a computer game format. I had players locked into confined positions but as goals were scored, teams could unlock players in their team. Winning the game was measured by completing the ‘mission’ and in this instance the mission was to have a fully functioning netball team. The teaching process required teams to explain their rationale for the order in which they unlocked their team mates,” he says.

“This process of discussing the roles and scope of the positions in the game also had the effect of their implicit use of constructivist learning styles. However, I think my biggest achievement was to convince a former New Zealand coach that this approach to teaching novices had real merit.”

Dr Slade says the School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition has untapped resources that can support New Zealand elite sports. “We have expertise right across all aspects of sport pedagogy and science. I’m very keen for us to provide a focus for various national sporting organisations to use our expertise to improve their programmes and to further raise the profile of Massey University in this field.”