How to prevent injuries during netball finals
September is just around the corner, and we all know what that means…
For those of you that belong to a sporting club or team, September can be one of the most exciting times of the year. Whether you’re a player gearing up for your chance at victory, a coach finalising your team strategies for the win, or a spectator making arrangements to support your favourite team, it can be a month full of determination, anxiety, optimism and hopefully joy and excitement when your team wins!
For me, finals are coming up in a couple weeks, and I’m seeking my second grand final win in a row for the Moonta Netball Club. The only thing more motivating than reminiscing about last years victory would have to be the recent under 21 Netball World youth cup, with Australia dominating throughout the tournament only to be defeated by the arch nemesis New Zealand by 3 goals!! The disappointment felt for these girls only makes me more determined to win.
One of the most disheartening events during finals time is injuring yourself in one of the final games of the round or even worse, the semi-final! The rate of injury for netballers is 14 injuries per 1,000 hours played with the most common being knee and ankle injuries. I have been unlucky enough to have sustained ankle injuries in more than one semi- final, and reluctantly had to sit on the bench to watch my team win the grand final without me. I wouldn’t wish this on any player, which is why I have come up with a few tips and tricks to help prevent injuries in the most important games of the season!
There’s nothing worse than admitting to your physio that you skipped the warm up at training or a game, right before you injured yourself. Heading towards the end of the season, players and coaches often move through the warm up quickly, or skip it all together in order to spend more time on “important” things like game play and tactics. A good warm up should consist of exercises and drills that target the four key elements associated with an increased risk of injuries in netball – take off, landing, deceleration and change of direction. If you’’re not sure what exercises or drills are best for injury prevention, Netball Australia’s Knee Injury prevention for Netballers to Enhance performance and Extend play (KNEE program) was developed to provide education and specific warm up drills and exercises to prevent lower limb injuries, in particular – the dreaded ACL injury! Speak to your physiotherapist to find out more information about the KNEE program, and how to implement it into your teams warm up.
- Hold off from buying new shoes for netball finals
I know some players or parents of players that have a tradition of buying new netball shoes right before finals. It can be motivating for the player, and yes – it may feel like you can run faster and jump higher with your brand new shoes, BUT… there is evidence to suggest that >50% of players injured whilst playing netball were wearing brand new shoes, or relatively new shoes. New shoes can decrease your body’s awareness of where the foot is, and therefore reduce your ability to correct your foot position to prevent injury. If possible, try to wear your new shoes to a few trainings first to wear them in before wearing them in a game, or save your purchase for next season!
- Wear appropriate ankle supports for training AND game
Ankle injuries are one of the most common injuries in Netball. You may have already sprained your ankle once or twice before. Having a history of ankle sprains or instability can increase your risk of re-injury. Wearing an ankle brace or taping your ankles can assist in preventing sprains in Netball. If you already tape your ankles or wear a brace, finals time should be no different – even if you have felt confident throughout the season. Better to be safe than sorry! If you are unsure about how to tape your ankle properly, speak to your physio. When it comes to tape vs brace… it comes down to personal preference as both have been shown as effective.
- See your physio about any niggling pain or injuries
If you have any ongoing pain or injuries that you have been pushing through, or trying to manage during the season, come and speak to us! We want you to play finals as much as you do, and can offer advice or hands on treatment to help you improve your performance and finish your season to the best of your ability. Seeking prompt treatment for injuries will not only enable you to start your rehab sooner, it will ensure you reach your full potential and ultimately make sure your team gets the win!
If you are about to embark on a finals campaign come and see us at PhysioWest at our Mile End or Salisbury clinics
Published by Megan Jones, Physiotherapist, PhysioWest