Back to Netball – What is it and how does it work?

Back to Netball: What they do and how we work with them

We know how daunting it can be to start playing netball, whether you’ve never experienced the game before, or are coming back to it years after playing in school.

That’s why England Netball’s ‘Back to Netball’ initiative is so fantastic – it’s designed to provide women with a gentle re-introduction to the sport in a structured environment with experienced coaches, and hopefully help you to get involved with netball more regularly.

They set up community sessions for ladies that have either never played netball, or just haven’t played for a long time, and deliver coaching to help them get back into it.

There’s even Walking Netball classes for those looking for something less strenuous!

Here at Simple Netball, we have a great partnership with England Netball in trying to introduce more people to the game.

How does the partnership work?

We find that often when potential new players come to us, they’re a bit nervous about going straight into one of our leagues when they haven’t played netball in a while.

This is totally understandable! And ‘Back to Netball’ is the perfect solution.

We work with ‘Back to Netball’ to run sessions every week on a Monday evening at the Barlow school in Didsbury. These sessions consist of qualified coaches going through the rules of the game, working on skills, delivering drills, and they act as a great step between being a complete netball novice and committing to one of our normal leagues.

From there, once they’ve gotten to grips with the game, lots of our ladies then go on to catch the netball buzz and join a team to start playing full matches – this is fantastic not only for us, in terms of filling up our leagues, but for England Netball too, getting more people participating in the sport!

What are the positives of getting back into netball?

We spoke to Jess Gordon-Smith, a Netball Development Community Coach who works for England Netball and delivers our Monday ‘Back to Netball’ sessions, and asked about why so many women are starting to enjoy the game.

She says “The initial benefit of netball is how it’s such a great form of exercise; there’s everything from running, to jumping, to cardio…it’s a full body workout.

“But then there’s the social side that people don’t expect – they might sign up at first to get fit, but end up coming to sessions to see people and make friends.”

‘Back to Netball’ also provides the needed expertise to make the process of getting back into the sport as easy as possible – including knowledge of how to deal with those recovering from an injury, or who are completely new to the rules.

According to findings from ‘Back to Netball’*, 97% of their participants say that it made them more physically active and they lead a healthier lifestyle, 86% said they felt welcome and interacted well with others, and 76% said it helped them feel good about themselves – confirming the positive impact that netball can have on you mentally as well as physically.

Numbers of netball lovers are on the rise

There’s been a surge in the popularity of netball across the UK in recent years, as well as more funding and opportunities, and the ‘Back to Netball’ initiative has played a big part in that, as well as the professional leagues (both national and international) becoming more accessible too.

But what else is increasing love for the sport?

Jess shared her thoughts on this with us: “I think netball is becoming more popular because it’s a sport just for women; it’s more fun than the gym, it’s a safe space where they’re not going to be judged, and more women are putting themselves first and setting aside an hour a week just for them.

“They want to use that wisely and do something that involves getting social as well as fit, rather than going to the gym and not talking to anyone.”

Figures from ‘Back to Netball’ themselves*confirm that they have engaged with over 60,000 participants since starting in 2009, with women of all ages included and 52% of those being mums – showing it’s a fantastic and flexible way for those with children to stay active.

37% of participants go on to engage in further netball, and 52% to other sports or activities – and overall, 98% of participants would recommend ‘Back to Netball’ to others. That sounds like a big thumbs up to us!

What impact have we had here at Simple Netball?

“Simple Netball is brilliant.” says Jess. “It gives people another option to improve their fitness and take part in a competitive sport which is fun at the same time.

“It’s perfect for learning what netball is all about – the umpiring, coaching, etc. – and opens the door to netball with no pressure, and without having to make too much of a commitment.”

She finishes by saying “Simple Netball have had such an impact on netball in Manchester and the North West; it’s amazing what they’ve done for women and the sport. To be part of that is so good, and you leave every session feeling great!”

Spreading the word about how incredible netball is and helping more people to get involved with the sport is hugely important to us at Simple Netball, and our partnership with ‘Back to Netball’ is helping us to do that on an even bigger scale!

If you’re interested in coming along to our ‘Back to Netball’ sessions, you can find out more about them here on our website, or get in touch with us by clicking here.


*B2N statistics provided by Jessica Gordon-Smith