Having mixed teams of men and women playing a contact sport together may sound utopic – ideal but impractical – but it has been done and it continues to be done really well by social netball players.

As you know, Melbourne has a great netball tradition. With the advent of mixed netball and social netball, the people of Melbourne are allowed better enjoyment of the sport, not only as spectators, but as players as well.

What’s the point in mixing men and women in one team to play against other mixed teams? There are many benefits in joining males and females together – to the players individually, to the team as a whole, and even to the spectators as well.

To begin with, the mixed setup brings a new dynamic to the game. There are differences between a man’s game and a woman’s game, but when the players are able to make them complement each other in such a way that weaknesses are compensated and strengths are combined, then they can deliver a much better performance as a team.

Male or female, players are driven to up their game when the opposite sex is thrown into the game equation. Visually, it definitely provides a more exciting and unpredictable show, something that is frequently demonstrated in mixed netball competitions held by Melbourne Social Netball, frequently on the courts of the Riverside Golf and Tennis Centre.

If you’re a male who does not have a girlfriend forcing you to play or who’s not looking to meet sports-minded females, why would you want to participate in mixed netball competitions? First, if you’re not particularly athletic to begin with, social netball provides an avenue for you to find and explore your sporty side in a fun and healthy way. Second, if you’re already quite athletic, you will find that the physical demands of the sport requires you to hone skills in a way that other sports don’t. Third, netball has different positions that call for different physical abilities, so you can find at least one that suits you and allows you to shine.

If you’re male and feel inclined to underestimate netball, make no such mistake. Many a male netballer has sworn to have undergone the most intense cardio workout of his life playing netball. Imagine alternating dashing through an obstacle course and then sprinting a straight 20 metres over and over again.

It’s a fast-paced game, so you need to be in good condition and have great control of your body. Nonetheless, you can’t triumph on just pure athleticism either. You need to understand the game so you can play strategically. For this reason, the sport is perfect for team players.

How about the ferocity of female players? They can be just as fierce as any male player on the courts. They won’t think twice about throwing themselves at the ball. If you happen to be in the way, they will happily plough you down. Don’t even think about going easy on them because they’ll use your condescending attitude to trounce you.

If you’ve been considering giving mixed netball a try, these points will hopefully convince you to take the plunge.

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