Camp sharpens skills

THIS week's training camp with the Opals is a great chance for Bendigo Spirit team-mates Gabe Richards, Kelly Wilson, Elyse Penaluna and Tessa Lavey to sharpen their skills.

Every player is fighting to earn their place in the team and to represent Australia

After every training camp with the national squad I always went back on court believing I was sharper in so many areas of my game.

The camps were exciting, but daunting at the same time.

The excitement was wearing the green and gold, catching up with friends, and being on court with many of the best players in the country.

What was daunting was not quite knowing what to expect.

I am sure all the players, no matter how many camps they have gone to, are experiencing the same emotions at this week's sessions in Canberra.

Every player is fighting to earn their place in their team and to represent Australia.

It is really hard to break into an Australian team.

All training camps were challenging, whether it was my first year with the team, or my 20th as an Opal.

The camps are tiring, mentally and physically.

There was really no "down time" to relax.

A lot of the Opals training camps I went to were two on-court sessions a day, recovery, lunch, meetings and more.

New coach Brendan Joyce may throw in some drills and plays the girls have not experienced.

Just being on the court as often as they can and doing as much as they can will be a great experience 

For a young player like Tessa Lavey the experience will be invaluable.

Tessa played in Hungary last November and you could tell her confidence had grown when she returned to the Spirit program.

Tessa was a lot more aggressive in her play, not just when she had the ball, but also in defence.

There will be a great battle for the guard positions.

Kelly Wilson, No. 22 pictured, is right in the fight.

The selection of Gabe Richards and Elyse Penaluna for the camp is great reward for their seasons with the Spirit.

Elyse has worked extremely hard in her comeback from injury and is such an important player in our line-up.

The Opals will have a strong squad for the world titles and 2016 Olympics.

I expect the likes of Erin Phillips and Penny Taylor, provided she is fit and healthy, to play for the Opals in those tournaments.

There's little time for those at the Opals camp to rest.

On Saturday the Spirit is back at home to play Townsville Fire.

It's going to be another crucial contest against the only team to have beaten us this season.

Hope to see you there.

Kristi Harrower is a four-time Olympic representative and played 214 matches for the Opals.

She was in the silver medal-winning Opals team at the Olympic Games in 2000, '04 and '08, and bronze in 2012.

Workouts with the Opals always a great challenge

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