Samantha Meade is a Netball Performance coach who loves her job! Working with the National Governing Body England Netball, Samantha works directly with athletes to ensure they have all the?support and guidance they need to capitalise on their training.
After retiring from playing aged 28, Samantha went on to take her coaching qualifications and now coaches nearly every night of the week.
Below, Samantha shares with us her journey and what she loves most about netball…
What first inspired you to start coaching and can you tell us the process you went through to qualify to the stage you are at now?
When I reached sixth form I started to help out my PE teachers with some of the younger school squads. I really enjoyed helping the younger girls improve and giving them some of the knowledge I had picked up only my journey so far. At 18 I went off to what was then De Montfort University in Bedford (now the University of Bedfordshire) to start a career in PE teaching.
At university I continued to play Netball and after my 1st year started to coach the University squads as club captain. I joined my local club where I played and quickly got involved in coaching the youth section. It was at this point I realised that I wanted a career in netball coaching and not in school teaching PE. I started looking into how I could get qualified and before long I had completed my UKCC level 1 and 2. I then started offering sessions in the local school and linking in with development officers in my county to offer Netball sessions in a scheme called “Back2Netball” which was a product offered by England netball to give females over 16 an opportunity to return to the sport in a fun, friendly and non-comital fashion. Within about 2-3 months, I was coaching every night of the week and loving it.
After a year of coaching in the schools there was a real contrast between coaching these children, to club players who were dedicated to training and getting results. It was then I realised I had a real appetite for performance netball. I then started to seek opportunities in performance within my county. Soon I was the Head coach of the Bedfordshire County academy programme and quickly moved up to assisting in the regional programme. I then was offered the chance to be seconded to a performance role within England netball. After doing this role for 6 months, I then interviewed for the role and was successful. I have now been a performance pathway coach for over 2 and 1/2 years. I am now currently doing my UKCC level three. Last September, I was approached by Hertfordshire Mavericks to be the head coach for the Youth Squad.
You are currently employed by the NGB ‘England Netball’ as an England Netball Performance Coach; can you tell us what is involved with this role day to day?
The main part of my job is athlete management. Ensuring the athletes have all the support and guidance they can have meaning they can capitalise on their training? and get the most out of it. This will include having 1-2-1’s with them, helping manage their training schedules and conflicts, prioritising training and commitments. Then is planning and developing sessions and an annual plan so we can ensure everything is covers in their training and has the correct progression and athlete development.
I also sit down and help athletes develop short, medium and long term goals so they have a focus and a way of getting to their goal. Other aspects of my job including working with the school and club coaches to ensure that they all get use out of the athlete as well as ensuring that she doest get pulled in different directions and that they don’t become to fatigued. I organised formal and performance match day environments and offer them different opportunities depending upon the athletes needs. I work with the athletes to gym test them so they are on the right S&C programme, support them in their gym sessions as well as provide morning training opportunities to complete conditioning work and individual skill development.
In a sport which is very female dominated, do you think it is important to have some male coaches involved with the sport and if yes, why?
I think it’s great that we have a female only sport as it helps promote females in coaching, officiating and in playing (both in recreational and in performance capacities). However like in everything, we can all learn from each other as well as work together. Therefore male coaches and officials add great value to our sport and I would encourage and one to get involved with coaching and officiating.
I am interested to learn about the cross-sport training you do with your team. Can you tell us why this is an important part of training and what sports you have all tried?
Two main reasons why training in other sports is important step throughout the season. Different Invasion games can teach you different skills and tactic.? The important thing for netball athletes is the transfer of those skills in to our game. The other reason why it’s important to use cross sports training is it gives athletes a break from netball. In these sessions as they Re learning they are more relaxed and having more fun. This is crucial in allowing them some mental and physical down time in the season whilst still being active. This season we have done Badminton, Rugby, Football, Trampolining, Handball and Rounders. These sports have offered a range of skills as well as physical conditioning- where the athletes need to develop. They have been able to work on hand eye coordination, speed, agility, core strength, understanding and exploiting space, foot speed etc.
What is the one thing you enjoy about coaching netball the most?
Seeing the improvements in the athletes, they joy they get when they achieve their goals or success. I also like seeing the improvement in my self as a coach. It doesn’t happen often cause like athletes I am hard on my self, but there are times when I can reflect on my coaching and see developments in my self.
What advice would you give to a netballer who was thinking about taking their first coaching qualifications?
Be confident in your abilities to learn and improve. I’m still learning now! Enjoy it and get out of it what you can. Try and get a support network around you of qualified coaches to help and mentor you through the process. Do it because you enjoy working with others and want to give back to the sport. There are also many different levels you can coach at. Not every level is for every coach, do what you enjoy the most – whether is back to netball, youth/junior coaching or Elite/performance coaching
What are your ambitions for your future coaching career?
I think as long as I get as far as I can, then I will be happy. But I think the big dream is to take a national team to the netball World Cup – that would be a great experience.