Wearing shoes designed for your specific sports not only allows for great comfort, but can also assist with peak performance and more importantly, injury prevention. Running shoes are built with a straight-line motion in mind, whereas Netball involves a completely different set of movements. Sporting footwear needs to cater for the different movements in the given sport.
ASICS Netball shoes are built specifically for the unique requirements of netball - the need to stop suddenly and assist with the multiple change of direction and side-to-side movement patterns. An elite netballer can jump an average of 200 times per game, which equates to 200 landings. ASICS netball shoes are equipped with strategically placed GEL cushioning systems for the much-needed shock absorption, while providing a stable base and platform in order to change direction quickly. Along with the cushioning aspects, the uppers and outsoles are also built to support and withstand the extreme forces involved with the sport.
Incorrect footwear may be one of several factors that lead to injuries that could otherwise be avoided. These include (but are not limited to) localised injuries to the feet, for e.g. foot pressure/blister injuries in addition to injuries further up the chain by indirectly loading these areas. Ensuring your specific foot posture fits your chosen shoe and taking the time to wear these shoes in over gradual increments are two ways risks can be reduced.
As mentioned previously, a running shoe simply is not designed to deal with the sudden movements and change of directions seen in the game of netball. Wearing anything other than a netball shoe on the court could potentially contribute to injury due to lack of stability, grip and overall protection.
The most common injuries in Australian netballers are injuries to the lower limb, with the vast majority being injuries to ankles and knees. Rolling the ankle is a particularly common injury given the requirement to stop suddenly many times per game. Wearing a shoe without enough lateral stability is one factor that may contribute to these injuries. Foot and blister injuries are more common in congested tournament style play and incorrect footwear may play a part in this. Being fitted correctly is also a critical factor to the shoe operating at its best for the athlete.
With participation comes injury risk and in netball the need for repeated landings, sudden deceleration and change of direction does heighten injury risk if insufficiently prepared. So, while it is unrealistic to ensure no injuries take place while playing netball, injury risk can be reduced by ensuring adequate preparation / warm up, ensuring you follow a graduated training plan and continuing with consistent focus on strength to muscles that control the lower limb, enhancing neuromuscular control and rehearsing quality jump/landing technique. Go to Netball Australia's KNEE program, freely accessible at knee.netball.com.au for further information.
Make sure you listen to your body and prepare it as best you can for the demands of netball. Be it through consistent injury prevention strategies, graduated training planning or ensuring you have the right equipment to support you. All these aspects will help ensure your body stays happy and you can continue to enjoy the many benefits that come with playing netball. Finally, we feel it's very important for players to wear footwear designed for the sport of netball and picking a model that suits your foot type and playing style.
Author: Head Physiotherapist Australian Diamonds | Netball Australia - Alanna Antcliff APAM
Written in partnership with ASICS Australia
About the author:
Alanna Antcliff is an accredited APA Sport and Exercise Physiotherapist with over 20 years’ experience working with elite sporting teams and individuals. She is the Physiotherapist for the Australian Netball Diamonds and National Netball Pathway, a role she has held since 2011. She also currently works for the Sydney Swans as a Consultant Physiotherapist and has previously worked with Olympic/National athletes at the NSW Institute of Sport.