• Claire Callaghan

Roses, Diamonds and Silver Ferns - staying injury free at the top of Netball

The Netball World Cup reaches its peak this weekend with the finals here in England. It's a fast and furious pace and a great game for girls and women of all ages, being fun, team based and accessible. However, injuries remain an issue. According to England Netball 2015 research, it accounts for 21% of dropout from the sport.

Knee injuries are common, particularly because if quick landings are not well controlled, they put pressure on the knees. The anterior cruciate ligament is particularly vunerable, with strain increased if the knee jump and land is not relatively straight and symmetrical. Technique, particularly for growing girls and teens, is important to develop, as landing appropriately, with good hip and knee control can prevent problems. If you notice that you are playing and your knees are rolling inwards, or if you get knee or ankle pain while playing, it's worth getting technical advice from a coach and consulting a physio for a personalised programme. Adolescent females are especially prone to injury. It's likely that anatomical differences between girls and boys and imbalances in neuro-muscular control (muscle control that is happening at a subconsious level) contribute to this.

Netball Australia have a specialised knee programme - see https://knee.netball.com.au/ which outlines jumping, landing, take off, deceleration and change of movement exercises and fun ideas which netballers can try. It targets juniors, recreational and elite netballers, so there's something for everyone. Good balance and warm up have also been shown to help reduce injuries, so doing balance based exercises and not going straight on court without warming up or doing some practice drills is important. It's always worth checking playing surfaces and hazards around the court to prevent injury too, as slippery surfaces can cause problems too.