Lightning Rediscover Love Of Netball

Finding the ‘love’ in netball again has been an underlying theme at Sunshine Coast Lightning this pre-season and Head Coach Kylee Byrne hopes that excitement will translate out on court.

Complexities and restrictions around COVID saw the team limit in-person contact in 2020 in line with restrictions and take a more ‘get in, get out’ approach to maximise strict training hours.

By season’s end the flow-on effect began to trickle into team morale.

“On the back of last year it was so much of business ‘in and out’ – get in and train, then go and play,” Byrne said.

“This year a lot of the focus has been on the team coming together and just enjoying each other again.

“We got very serious last year – we had to – and feedback from the player review was just to enjoy our sport and realise why we love it again, despite the challenges that were thrown at us.

“Hopefully we achieved that and that will show on court this year.”

Byrne has drawn on community connections to engage the players and encourage a more light-hearted approach to select training sessions and team activities this pre-season.

There’s a strategic side to Byrne’s approach too, with the coach focused on building key skills.

Three new players across the team and training partners also made fostering bonds both on and off court a top priority.

“This pre-season has been about doing different activities, getting out in the Sunshine Coast community and playing different games and sports that put us under pressure,” she said.

“What I’m looking for is that decision making, do the skills stand up, whether it’s with a football or netball in hand.

“We’re also connecting with different teams and clubs around USC and the Sunshine Coast.

“We’ve been outrigging, we did archery with Olympian Ryan Tyack who will hopefully represent Australia later this year, then a training session this week with USC Barbarians Rugby.”

However, Byrne said the focus will now return firmly to netball skills and game strategy as the May 1 season start date looms.

“It feels like that time is done and it’s time to focus on netball now,” she said. 

Lightning have completed two pre-season matches in recent weeks as preparations intensify.