Building mental grit as pressure of finals mounts

As the Ballarat Football Netball League finals beckon, Sebastopol Football Netball Club is helping its netballers prepare not just physically, but mentally.

Kellie Dunn leading the senior netballer session. Picture: Georgia Cann

Kellie Dunn leading the senior netballer session. Picture: Georgia Cann

Sebastopol 17/under coach Kellie Dunn, who has worked with elite athletes and teams in the past on the mental side of their games, has held a mental grit and toughness session for the club’s senior netballers.

It is the first of more workshops to come, which will be aimed at helping all players in teams that are competing in finals best prepare for the challenge.

“One of the things that I found over the years is people say they want to give it everything they’ve got, but when you challenge them about their minds, some adults are less adaptable in that space than some of the kids,” Dunn said.

“We just wanted to do a teaser, just to see how they reacted to it and would they take it on board. The answer was absolutely yes.”

While many netballers prepare for games physically such as training sessions, Dunn said there were also mental techniques and exercises that could help such as visualisation, self-motivation and mindfulness.

For example, visualising the worst-case scenarios and coming up with coping strategies to build resilience and prevent the mind from panicking.

Dunn said it was helpful to be prepared for anything and everything - the good, the bad and the ugly.

“I told the girls there is a lot we can’t control and a lot we can control, so it’s about controlling the controllables,” she said.

Dunn, who is a firm believer in ‘train the mind and the body will follow’, said a big part of mental grit is resilience, the ability to get back up after being knocked down. The sessions also focus on building resilience.