The biggest mistakes netballers are making with their footwear choices
Do you ever suffer from bruised toes OR blisters playing netball? Or repeated sprained ankles? Do you ever feel like you can’t trust your shoes during a game of netball?
Over 70% of Australian and New Zealand netball participants are not wearing netball specific footwear! You NEED to know the secrets to injury prevention in netball!
Though netball is considered a “low contact game”, we often hear of injuries to players lower limbs – revolving around the knees and ankles. Despite this, it is estimated that up to 70% of participants do not wear netball specific footwear! To prevent risk of more injury, it is extremely important for netballers to be in netball specific footwear, as many people will use regular runners which will not help to prevent risk of injury to the lower limbs.
Factors to consider…
EXCESS MOVEMENT IN FOOTWEAR
As netball is a game of quick changes in directions, not having the right materials in the shoes can put heaps of stress and movement through the foot and lower limbs. The footwear needs handle forces through the upper WHILE maintaining a firm grip on the ground.
Many people will play in standard running shoes. This tends to increases the risk of injuries to the lower limb as these shoes are generally softer, not built for the quick changes in direction’s netballers typically do and lead to feeling less stable while playing.
Footwear Tip 1: Ensure the Upper material is made of either leather or vinyl with lateral wraps to support sideways movements.
Footwear Tip 2: Ensure the shoe sole has flex grooves and Pivot Points for multidirectional fast paced movements.
DURABILITY IN FOOTWEAR
Durability is important as netball is very demanding on their lower limbs and footwear! This can be due to different surfaces, movements and rules during a game. In order to combat this, netball shoes come with various durability features that promote and aim to extend the life of the shoes.
Typical wear include sole and toe box areas. These areas experience friction and drag onto bitumen outdoor courts. Netballers will drag the toe area after receiving the ball as they are not allowed to step while in possession. Excessive wear through the forefoot position due to pivoting usually are players who are located on the outside thirds e.g. goal shooter.
Footwear tip 3: Avoid wearing shoes with purely mesh, as this is a weaker material and can tear and wear more easily over time.
Footwear tip 4: Carbon rubber for the outsole material is much more harder wearing
Footwear tip 5: Outsole wraps around the toe box will protect the shoe from medial dragging of the foot.
STABILITY IN FOOTWEAR
Stability is a critical factor for comfort and feeling like you can trust your footwear in Netball games! Stable shoes will help reduce chances of lower limb injuries. Strong ankle stability shoes will aid in reducing excess movement through ankle area. Netball specific shoes are designed to lock the foot in the right place reducing lateral compression of the foot (which can happy when changing direction or shifting body weight laterally).
Footwear tip 6: In regards to the ankle region – consider if the shoes are deep enough for your ankles, ensure laces are secured to the very last lacing hole for a better fit around the ankles and that the shoe has lateral wrapping around the heel.
Footwear tip 7: Good netball shoes will have dual density EVA in midsole to ensure its firm enough for changes in direction, some will have lateral flaring for extra stability and less exposed cushioning.
Footwear tip 8: Do the 5 FIT CHECK!
Especially for younger players who may still be growing rapidly, it is important to check these fitting factors! Is the shoe…
Too small? your feet may cramp up and have toe related injuries if the shoes are too tight or short in length e.g. bruising. Generally, we aim for 1cm or a thumb width of room in front of the toe. Too big? Too wide? Too Shallow? If there is excessive room in the length, width and depth – this can result in slipping and friction related injuries. This can lead to reduced stability when playing. Slipping in the heels? As netball shoes are stiffer than running shoes, slipping through the heel area can be a common concern – thus is it important to get the right fit around the heel.
Footwear tip 9: Lock lacing technique!
Using a lock lace is a effective way to increase stability through the ankle region and reduce excess movement or slipping throughout the heel!
Click on the link to see how it’s done
Lastly footwear tip 10: Wearing technical socks!
Socks are the first contact with the foot so getting socks with the right material and fit can help reduce friction related injuries e.g. blistering and increase comfort for netballers. It is common for netballers to wear ill-fitted or loose cotton socks which can 1. cause more movement 2. hold moisture in the sock and soften the skin which can make it easier to blister
Technical socks aim to:
Fitted firmly over the left and right foot individually to ensure the right fit for the toescome with a compression band through the midfoot and ankle area to reduce excess movement -> rubbing -> potential blistering to the feet come with extra cushioning in the forefeet and heel region for added comfort and paddingthe material is not made of cotton and instead will wick moisture away for sweaty feet. This helps keep the skin dryer reducing chances of skin softening and blistering as well as odour issues.
My personal favourite are the ‘Lightfeet socks’ that can be purchased online or at The Athlete’s Foot stores.