9 Oct 2018

Netball matriarch urges patience with Silver Ferns

7:03 am on 9 October 2018

Netball matriarch Dame Lois Muir believes once the younger Silver Fern players sharpen up their game smarts the results will come.

Former Silver Ferns coach Dame Lois Muir revolutionised international netball in New Zealand, her holistic philosophy a critical component in creating the Kiwi style of play.

Thirty years on after her final year as coach she believes not much has changed in the way netball is played only the intensity and interpretation of the rules.

While ingredients like fitness and nutrition look very different today, the need to condition a players' 'netball brain' remains exactly where Dame Lois left it especially when facing world number ones Australia.

Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman receiving the Dame Lois Muir supreme award at the 2015 Netball NZ Awards

Silver Ferns captain Laura Langman receiving the Dame Lois Muir supreme award at the 2015 Netball NZ Awards Photo: ©Michael Bradley Photography 2015

"Such a young talent is coming through but to turn them into thinking players and to read the game at that level, imagine wearing a human backpack for an hour the Australian players are on your body constantly and mentally you have to be above that," explains Dame Lois

"These young players are talented but they aren't game wise or experienced yet, it will take time and the public have to bear with the coach."

The public pressures and bright lights can change everything. Like any other sport netball is a product that needs to be sold to retain interest so building experience and mental toughness in this area is essential.

The 83-year-old played and coached in a time without the likes of social media and readily available hand held devices. She pioneered educating the media and in turn the public on netball to ensure its longevity and to this day netball continues to be the country's most popular sport for women.

"When netball started we were educating the media, we got the leftover rugby reporters and they didn't really want to be there but the more they knew about the game they started to write better reports," says Dame Lois

"You can't have women wanting television time if they haven't got something to sell because you aren't just selling it to the public, you are growing the game by giving people a spectacle."

Silver Ferns coach 1974-1988 Dame Lois Muir

Silver Ferns coach 1974-1988 Dame Lois Muir Photo: http://mbphoto.co.nz

Dame Lois still watches every game, still takes notes on her famous notebook and although without a coaches whistle prides herself on netball wisdom.

The persistent advice to grow young players mentally as well as physically comes from the experience of moulding players like Waimarama Taumaunu, Leigh Gibbs and Yvonne Willering to name a few - all who went on to become Silver Ferns coaches themselves.

She never participated in a Constellation Cup series after finishing her tenure in 1988 but knows all too well about what is required in to play an Australian team.

"Forget about winning look at our product out there each area on court needs to improve," says Muir

"We've got players in rehab at the moment and personally I feel we are turning over way too much ball on court - basic stuff."

"You really have to be a totally defensive team, turn over ball, and then you can have fun but if you are going to make mistakes life gets tough out there."

Game two of the Constellation Cup between the New Zealand Silver Ferns and Australian Diamonds is on Wednesday night at 9.30pm (NZT) in Townsville.