Inside Sharni Layton, an Australia Netball Champion

Inside Sharni Layton, an Australia Netball Champion


A current Australian netballer, Sharni Layton is one of the most exciting netballer defenders in the world. Currently playing for the NSW Swifts, Sharni is a strong defensive player and has won two premierships in the ANZ Championship, a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and a Gold Medal at the 2011 World Netball Championships.

Often referred to as the ANZ Championship version of Jonathon Brown (AFL’s ex tough man) Sharni made her debut with the Melbourne Kestrels in 2008 before attending the Australian Institute of Sport in 2009 and was part of the Premiership team at World Youth Netball Championships where she was vice captain of the side.

In 2010, Sharni transferred over to the Adelaide Thunderbirds where her leadership skills were acknowledged in her appointment of being named Vice-Captain of the team. Her year was capped off with her first ANZ Championship Premiership and was awarded the Mars Red Young Player of the year.

In 2011 Sharni reached yet another highlight in her netball career, after being selected in the Diamonds squad to represent Australia in the World Netball Championships and her leadership qualities once again were acknowledged as she was elevated to co-captain alongside Natalie von Bertouch. Sharni was given her first taste of international action when she started at WD in the second test against New Zealand in Auckland.

Unfortunately a niggling shoulder injury derailed Sharni’s 2012 campaign. Although playing out the season with the Thunderbirds she opted to have surgery, ruling herself out of Diamond contention. With fire in her belly, Sharni dominated in the 2013 ANZ Championships steering the Adelaide Thunderbirds to a home court Premiership against the Queensland Firebirds.

In 2014, Sharni joined the NSW Swifts and was a dominant force in their defensive line up. Her physicality on court was recognised when she was selected in the Australian Diamonds Team to play at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Over in Glasgow Sharni produced fiery performances in the pool matches and was a key contributor to Australia’s gold medal success.

Away from the netball court Sharni Sharni has strong family values and is an avid animal lover, having previously worked at the RSPCA. Sharni loves to start the day with a coffee and loves meeting new people and having grown up in Bonbeach, she loves to hang out at the beach. Having just completed a life coaching course, Sharni’s passion is to help others and to prove that with a little hard work, that anything is possible.

A fun loving hardnosed athlete, Sharni’s worth ethic coupled with her fun loving personality makes her an admired female role model and perfect advocate for an ambassador roles.

Sharni won the MVP award in the ANZ Netball Grand Final last week, whilst also being selected in the Australian Diamonds squad to represent Aust in the Netball World Cup (in Aug this year in Sydney)

Where did you grow up?

Bonbeach, Victoria

What was it like growing up?

Awesome. I had a great family, loved riding horses and playing netball. Was surrounded by fun friends and am grateful for the opportunities my parents provided me with!

Is there anything interesting about your background youd like to share?

I was very lanky as a youngster and never made the A teams first time around. I sat on the bench for Melbourne for four years before moving interstate. I have also lived in Canberra, Adelaide and now Sydney chasing greater opportunities and have relished the challenge that moving provides. I made the Australian Team at 23 and am fortunate to have a World Netball Championship Gold Medal, Commonwealth Games Gold Medal and two Premierships when I was with the Adelaide Thunderbirds. I am a lover of life, animals and coffee.

What is your life motto?

I have a few..

Pick your favorite.

“Be authentic and be the best YOU can be”
“Never leave any stone unturned, if you work hard your journey will unfold in front of you”
“Be patient, a set back will prove to create great opportunities in your future”
“Get comfortable with the uncomfortable”
“In the end, only kindness matters”
“You were born to be real, not to be perfect”

What inspires you to be a professional in your career?

Self-discovery and improvement inspire me to continually see what I can get out of myself. Being in a supported environment with strong, willed, determined women who constantly push themselves is very inspiring. Also, the opportunity to be a role model for the hundreds of thousand netballers around the country and pay forward what I have learnt as an elite athlete to help others also achieve their dreams.

What inspires you to keep going?

Similar to the above – The reward of being in a team environment, working with others toward a common goal is an addictive feeling that you constantly want more of. The people who I have met along the way and the support I am provided with is constantly inspiring. Also I want netball to be professional and I believe we can get there. I am going to help constantly push for this so we can eventually be on the same scale as other male dominated sports in this country.

Early on in life what were some of the skills that you personally were lacking and what did you do to try and fill some of those gaps?

Organisation, prioritising and saying “no” to the things that weren’t contributing to my journey. Trying to do too much which then meant I wasn’t paying enough attention to where I wanted to go. Being clear on my goals and which direction I wanted to go in life, making a conscious decision of knowing where I wanted to be in netball, consciously prioritising (mainly putting social life in the back seat) and putting plans in place to help me reach my goals (which I have done to date, more still to come!), learning how to put me first and say “no”.

What has been one of the biggest challenges you have had to face in your own life and how did you overcome it (how did it shape your life)?

1) Dislocating my elbow in 2009 – nearly prevented me from my earlier life goal of competing at the 21/u world youth championships. It shaped my determination in rehabilitating a 5-month injury in 3 months so that I could play. It made me realise how much I wanted to represent my country not only at 21/U, but also the national level and therefore was crucial in my decision making to move to Adelaide which was my break through year in netball. It also taught me patience and perseverance.

2) My decision to move from Adelaide to Sydney after winning two premierships with the Adelaide Thunderbirds. I was comfortable in Adelaide; however I chose to move away so I could continue to grow as a person. By taking myself out of my comfort zone and moving to a bigger city has helped build my profile which I hope to continually build in the hope I can help lift the profile of netball, I’m currently still on this journey.

What is one of the funniest things that has ever happened to you on your success journey?

I can’t think of anything off the top of my head; however being in a team funny things happen all the time, I believe it’s important to not take myself seriously in which case I make fun out of myself a lot!

Is there a significant quote(s) or saying which you live your life by?

All the motto’s which I posted earlier. To add another one,

“Only you are in control of your attitude and beliefs, others thoughts and opinions are their own and you have the choice whether you wish to listen to them or not. Are you choosing to be a victor or a victim?”

What do you believe are the essential qualities or personal attributes of a successful person?

Being genuine, doing what you love and are passionate about, paying forward what you have learnt on your journey, working hard for what you want and not allowing others to determine your outcome, being surrounded by people who uplift and support you on your journey.

Did you believe anyone can succeed in life despite their current (present) circumstances?

Absolutely. No one can change the past, but you always have the ability within you to control your attitudes and choice for your future.

What advice would you give to someone one how to overcome fear and have more confidence?

As humans we have flight or fight instincts from caveman days. Know this and know what your reaction to fear is. Ask yourself if you are in a life and death situation or if you are about to get eaten by a saber tooth tiger? If not, re-assess where this fear is coming from, accept it and know it’s only in your mind. Sometimes if you ask yourself “what’s the worst case scenario”. If the outcome isn’t going to affect you physically, trust that everything is going to be okay.

What have you found are the best methods or strategies for keeping oneself motivated and focused?

Having goals and plans in place to keep you focused!

I love this quote from Alice in Wonderland:

Alice “ Would you tell me please which way I ought to go from here?”
Cheshire Cat “ That depends a good deal on where you want to get to”
Alice “I don’t much care where”
Cheshire Cat “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go”

If you don’t have a goal, then it doesn’t matter which way you go! I also do meditation and yoga to help keep my mind focused.

What specific things can people to do improve their attitude and outlook on a daily basis?

Check if they are being a victor or victim.
Victor: Accepts, takes responsibility, asks curious questions, wants to improve, motivated
Victim: Blame, denial, excuses, procrastinates.

You choose your journey, so start taking responsibility for it! Others only affect you if you allow them to.

As someone others look up to what is the most common question you get asked and what is your answer to it?

I often get asked how I have the mindset that I do. I reply with I have done a lot of work with sport psychologists and personal development to build it. Your Psych is like a muscle, if you’re not continually building it to make it stronger (confidence) then you will lose it and have to start from scratch. Use it or lose it!

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