Netball FAQs

What are some common injuries in the sport of netball?

Due to the fast-paced, explosive, and at times, jarring nature of netball, the possibility of  injury can be high. Netball is a sport with one of the highest participation rates, with some of the highest injury rates, across team sports in Australia (Downs et al., 2021).

When considering injuries, differences exist between those more likely to be sustained by adults when compared to children. Amongst adult netballers, ankle and knee injuries have been found to be the most common, frequently in the form of ligament sprains, bruising/contusions, and muscle strains (Downs et al., 2021; Hume et al., 2000). Children, on the other hand, seem to sustain more upper limb injuries, such as fractures (Downs et al., 2021).

Of injuries requiring hospitalisation, fractures have been seen to be the most common, causing 29.5% of netball-related admissions (Flood et al., 2009). Of these, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture was the most common diagnosis, accounting for 760 (16.5%) of netball-related admissions, followed closely by Achilles tendon injury, accounting for 732 (15.9%) (Flood et al., 2009).[1]

If you are a player of the game, these injuries likely don’t come as a shock to you, knowing in full detail the demands of netball. In fact, you’ve probably experienced one (if not more) of these injuries yourself!

netball injuries

How do these injuries normally occur?

In netball, a significant focus is placed on footwork, i.e. foot placement upon catching the ball. Game rules stipulate the landing foot must stay grounded, only moving to pivot. Consequently, many of the common injuries listed above occur during the landing aspect of play (Kovac et al, 2022), particularly after landing awkwardly. Alternatively, other injuries may be caused by player contact/collision, falling during play, overuse, or by being struck by the ball (Downs et al., 2021; Sports Medicine Australia, 2009).

What should I do to prevent injuries?

1. Prior to play

Some options to prevent injury, prior to play, include:

  • Undergo a pre-participation screening by a relevant health professional, such as your physiotherapist, to rule out any musculoskeletal issues that may contribute to overuse injuries in netball;
  • Ensuring a sufficient warm-up, including dynamic warm-ups to ensure the body is prepared for play;
  • Using ankle/knee supports, including braces and taping, where necessary;
  • Wearing high-cut netball shoes, helping to improve stability of the ankle joint;
  • Ensuring a good night’s sleep (quantity and quality)
  • Adequate fuelling pre-game (e.g. micronutrients, macronutrients, fibre, and hydration)

2. Long term strategies

For netball players, working on strength, power,  proprioception and skill-specific movements is a well-rounded long term strategy to prevent injury.

1) Proprioception exercises

Proprioception is defined as the neural process by which the body takes in sensory input from the surrounding environment and integrates that information to produce a motor (i.e. movement) response (Rivera et al., 2017).

Due to the high loads placed on lower limb joints, such as the ankle or knee, during a game of netball, this can predispose them to injury. Consequently, employing proprioceptive (or balance) training to prevent injury, and reduce risk of re-injury, can be a good strategy.

Examples of proprioceptive training for the ankle joint, for example, could include wobble board/dura disc balance training, single leg exercises with the eyes closed, or, for an additional challenge, throwing/catching a ball during these tasks (Rivera et al., 2017). The aim of these exercises is to enhance our ability to adapt to changing environments and subsequently protect the body from injury.

A systematic review and meta-analysis by Bellows and Wong (2018) found that athletes who performed specific balance training had fewer ankle sprains and reduced their risk by 46% compared to controls.

But, the good news doesn’t end there! Not only can proprioceptive training reduce your risk of sustaining a first-time ankle sprain, but it can also reduce your likelihood of experiencing recurrent sprains (Rivera et al., 2017). So, why not do it?

2) Strength training

While targeted netball exercises have their place, a well-rounded, traditional strength and conditioning program too can improve a player’s movement quality (Kovec et al., 2022). See below for an example of a suitable strength training program, as created by Thomas and colleagues (2017).


You may have noticed the predominant focus placed on lower limb strengthening in the above example strength program. Reason being, netball players require greater lower limb relative strength to overcome the inertia of body mass during play. Strength training can help to improve an individual’s ability to accelerate and decelerate during movements such as jumping, sprinting, and change of direction (COD), with Thomas and colleagues (2017) discovering that athletes who exhibited greater strength levels were able to produce higher propulsive ground reactions forces and impulse during said actions. Suffice to say, increases in strength can improve lower limb control and reduce injury risk and performance decline.

3. Skill-specific exercises

As mentioned above, netball involves rapid acceleration, deceleration and directional changes while exerting considerable force (Coetzee et al., 2014). As a result, players may require additional agility, power and flexibility training. Incorporating exercises that cover these netball-specific components of fitness into training regimes, with a focus on enhancing landing control, COD, and catching passes, can help develop these skills.

Progressions from bilateral to unilateral exercises in multiple planes is recommended when undertaking jump training, focusing on appropriate landing strategies (Thomas et al., 2017). To increase transference to netball, correct landing mechanics and strategies should be emphasised in closed-skill practices before progression to open-skill jump training activities (Thomas et al., 2017).

Another important aspect of netball is power. An example power training program can be seen below (Thomas et al., 2017). High-power movements such as weightlifting and explosive jumping movements are beneficial to improve netball-specific performance measures such as sprinting, COD, and jumping, with many similarities seen between the tasks (Spiteri et al., 2015; Hori et al., 2008).


What should I do if I get injured?

1. Short term (PEACE and LOVE)

When it comes to the treatment of an injury, you’ve likely heard the acronym “RICE”, or “RICER”, thrown around. While it is a suitable approach to follow after sustaining an injury, a limitation of this treatment style is the sole focus on acute management of the injury.

More recently, soft-tissue injuries have been commonly treated using the “PEACE and LOVE” acronym, as shown below. A more comprehensive approach to injury treatment, this acronym encompasses rehabilitation from immediate care (PEACE) to subsequent management (LOVE) (Dubois & Esculier, 2020).

2. Long term strategies

After sustaining an injury, the long term strategies remain the same as before, with an added focus on addressing the deficits around the injury. Exercise prescription becomes more specific, tailored to address the limitations/weaknesses caused by the injury. In this case, seeking help from a relevant health professional, such as a physiotherapist, can be beneficial.


Which type of ankle support device is best?

A systematic review conducted by Dizon and colleagues (2010) showed that in elite and recreational athletes, ankle braces reduced the incidence of ankle sprain by 69%. Similarly, another study found that athletes who wore braces had fewer ankle sprains and reduced their risk by 64% compared to controls (Bellows & Wong, 2018).

Of the braces available, lace-up ankle braces have been shown to restrict ankle range of motion during a single leg landing without increasing the load on the knee joint (Vanwanseele et al., 2014), making them one of many suitable options.

Using strapping tape is another good option to stabilise joints. Similar to bracing, ankle strapping reduced the incidence of ankle sprain by 71% (Dizon et al., 2010).

All in all, both strapping and bracing are good options, and the decision ultimately comes down to what you, as the player, are most comfortable with. Alternatively, a combined approach is another perfectly suitable option, if not found to be overly restrictive.

Do netball specific shoes actually help me more than traditional running shoes?

Netball-specific footwear has proven to be another good option for preventing ankle injuries! Sinclair and colleagues (2014) discovered that minimalistic footwear, compared to netball-specific footwear, had the potential to predispose players to an increased risk of injury when assessing running, cutting, and jumping movements, all of which are common to the game of netball.

Netball shoes (otherwise known as court shoes) are a little heavier and more durable than your standard pair of runners. They are also generally a little wider and encompass the foot more, helping to provide side to side stability.

So, all things considered, if you play the game of netball, investing in a good pair of netball shoes seems to be a good idea!

What are some good tips for recovery after a game of netball?

When it comes to recovering from a game, or multiple games, of netball, recovery should focus on the ‘majors’. Some of the ‘majors’ for recovery, in no particular order, might be;

  1. Sleep (quantity and quality)
  2. Diet (micronutrients, macronutrients, fibre and hydration)
  3. General exercise and activity (training load, periodisation, programming variables etc.)
  4. Mental health status (beliefs, stress, anxiety, depression etc.)
  5. Social dimensions (relationships, socialisation, support etc.) and
  6. Work-related factors (work-life balance, financial position etc.)

If you need help with any of this, we would love to help you out!

REFERENCES (click to view) // Bellows, R., & Wong, C. K. (2018). The effect of bracing and balance training on ankle sprain incidence among athletes: a systematic review with meta-analysis. International journal of sports physical therapy13(3), 379.

Coetzee, D., Langeveld, E., & Holtzhausen, L. (2014). Training habits, training surface and injuries among South African netball players. South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation36(3), 39-49. // Dizon, J. M. R., & Reyes, J. J. B. (2010). A systematic review on the effectiveness of external ankle supports in the prevention of inversion ankle sprains among elite and recreational players. Journal of Science and medicine in sport13(3), 309-317. // Downs, C., Snodgrass, S. J., Weerasekara, I., Valkenborghs, S. R., & Callister, R. (2021). Injuries in netball-a systematic review. Sports medicine-open7(1), 1-26. // Dubois, B., & Esculier, J. F. (2020). Soft-tissue injuries simply need PEACE and LOVE. British journal of sports medicine, 54(2), 72-73. // Flood, L., & Harrison, J. E. (2009). Epidemiology of basketball and netball injuries that resulted in hospital admission in Australia, 2000–2004. Medical Journal of Australia190(2), 87-90. // Hori, N., Newton, R. U., Andrews, W. A., Kawamori, N., McGuigan, M. R., & Nosaka, K. (2008). Does performance of hang power clean differentiate performance of jumping, sprinting, and changing of direction?. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research22(2), 412-418. // Hume, P. A., & Steele, J. R. (2000). A preliminary investigation of injury prevention strategies in Netball: are players heeding the advice?. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport3(4), 406-413. // Kovac, D., Krkeljas, Z., & Venter, R. (2022). Effect of six-week traditional resistance and functional training on functional performance in female netball players. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation14(1), 1-6.

Netball Fact Sheet. (2008). Sports Medicine Australia. // Otago, L., & Peake, J. (2007). The role of insurance data in setting priorities for netball injury prevention strategies. Journal of science and medicine in sport10(2), 105-109. // Pillay, T., & Frantz, J. M. (2012). Injury prevalence of netball players in South Africa: The need for injury prevention. South African Journal of Physiotherapy68(3), 7-10.,catching%20or%20throwing%20a%20ball // Rivera, M. J., Winkelmann, Z. K., Powden, C. J., & Games, K. E. (2017). Proprioceptive training for the prevention of ankle sprains: an evidence-based review. Journal of athletic training, 52(11), 1065-1067. // Sinclair, J., Chockalingam, N., Naemi, R., & Vincent, H. (2015). The effects of sport-specific and minimalist footwear on the kinetics and kinematics of three netball-specific movements. Footwear Science7(1), 31-36. // Spiteri, T., Newton, R. U., Binetti, M., Hart, N. H., Sheppard, J. M., & Nimphius, S. (2015). Mechanical determinants of faster change of direction and agility performance in female basketball athletes. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research29(8), 2205-2214. // Thomas, C., Comfort, P., Jones, P. A., & Dos' Santos, T. (2017). Strength and conditioning for netball: A needs analysis and training recommendations. Strength & Conditioning Journal39(4), 10-21. // Vanwanseele, B., Stuelcken, M., Greene, A., & Smith, R. (2014). The effect of external ankle support on knee and ankle joint movement and loading in netball players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport17(5), 511-515.

  • [AK1]From 2002-2003, 1,129 people were admitted to hospitals across Australia for netball-related injuries.
  • In Victoria, from 2002-2004, 2,316 people visited Victorian emergency departments for netball-related injuries.
  • The rate of injury for netballers is 14 injuries per 1,000 hours played.
  • The causes and types of injuries - common causes of injuries are awkward landings, slips/falls, player contact/collision, overexertion, overuse and being hit by the ball.
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