Lisa Alexander: Preparing for the Netball World Cup

Preparing for the Netball World Cup Q&A

Interview by Declan Holt
Photograph sourced from Netball.com.au

Lisa Alexander is the current Head Coach of the Australian national netball team and was selected for the role in 2011.

Her success with teams including the Adelaide Thunderbirds and Melbourne Phoenix paved the way for her appointment to the national side.

A well-decorated leader and ambassador for the sport of netball, Lisa was recently named 2014’s AIS Sport Performance Awards Coach of the Year.

Her no nonsense demeanour and experience as a state representative player ensures the Australian side will be thoroughly prepared for the Netball World Cup.

With less than 160 days until the international event hits Sydney, we spoke with Lisa about her team’s preparation; the silver ferns pool drawing, media pressure on coaches and the frustratingly slow acceptance of female coaches in male dominated sports.

And although Australia has dominated the World Championships, winning 10 of the 13 tournaments played, media coverage is still something the sport finds challenging to maintain.

Channel 10 and Foxtel have however agreed to televise the world cup on free to air and paid channels in Australia, re-evaluating their commitment to the sport from previous years.

With the Netball World Cup coming up in August, have you commenced preparation?

We certainly have, we’ve probably commenced preparations for that three years ago when I was first appointed to the position in 2011. We work on a four-year cycle very similar to the Olympic sports because we are funded by the Australian Sports Commission. We have a level of accountability with that as well and so therefore we have to put our plans in well in advance.

Now obviously those things change according to what’s happening at the time and obviously we’ve had a terrific year last year so we will adjust things again this year according to what’s in front of us; injuries, our strengths and weaknesses across our squad, those sorts of things.

We might play around with some different strategies and tactics and we might play around a little bit with our sport science backup for World Cup. This year we’re going to trial, and have already trialed catering for ourselves food-wise, which is an important part of preparation and recovery for performance. So that’s just one of the little things that have changed, hopefully for the better to prepare us really well for this World Cup.

Is it to allow the players to have more control of their diet?

It’s more around us controlling the products that we buy and purchasing the type of food that the players like and providing that for them in the most cost efficient way because we haven’t got a lot of money as a sport and we’ve got to do things efficiently.

Luckily for us our nutritionist, Kerry Leech is also a wonderful cook and it just means we can have tighter control on that sort of thing when we’re in our hotel for World Cup.

With the Silver Ferns being drawn into the same pool as you, are you looking forward to trying to assert yourselves early on to the 2nd place team?

Yes, it’s going to be an interesting conundrum for us as coaches when we get to that. I’m of the mind always that winning is the best confidence booster and I certainly wouldn’t want to go and experiment in that sort of situation and then turn around and try something different in the finals.

I think what you’ve got to do is build a tournament, so we will be putting our best foot forward in that first match regardless and the good thing is that we do have depths and versatility within our team and squad so we’ve got the ability to bring in changes and also to change tactics if we need to.

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