Netball is a physically demanding sport involving frequent stopping and starting, twisting, pivoting, and jumping movements often combined with a hard, unforgiving surface. Netball places high stresses on the legs and feet, often causing injury. Studies show that foot, ankle and lower leg injuries account for over 63% of netball injuries.
Choosing the right shoe is the first step in injury prevention.
Netball shoes are designed specifically for playing netball. Running shoes are designed specifically for running.
There has been a trend developing for netball players to wear running shoes, perhaps partly driven by players in the ANZ Championship being seen in brightly coloured runners, and because running shoes are lighter and more flexible. Running shoes are great for strengthening and training activities in the gym, or for casual wear, but are not suited to high impact activities like netball.
The main differences between running shoes and netball shoes are:
- Running shoes are designed for forward motion whereas the netball shoe is designed for side-to-side movement. This is demonstrated in the strength of the upper – the netball shoes are stronger in the upper and should withstand the constant changes of direction mentioned above.
- The outsole is a key difference. Netball shoes have a more rigid outsole made of a more durable compound rubber which provides better grip on netball courts and a much longer life than the softer outsoles on running shoes.
- The netball shoe is designed with a much lower profile, so that your feet sit closer to the ground. This creates a more stable platform which helps reduce the risk of ankle sprains.
If you have cross trainers or tennis shoes these are the next best thing, but there will be a compromise in either the outsole, or the amount of sideways stability required for netball.
How to choose a netball shoe:
- Visit a sports shoe store and be fitted by a specialist.
- Take any orthotics or ankle guards with you to try on with your new shoes.
- There should be a 1cm gap from the end of your longest toe to the front of the shoe. This will prevent blisters and bruising or loss of toenails.
- Find the shoe that fits you well and feels comfortable.
Are your old shoes worn out? Replace them if any of the following applies:
- The outsole is bald in any area, or lost its grip.
- The shoe lining is torn or frayed.
- The uppers have tears or holes.
- The midsole is creased indicating that the support and cushioning system has deteriorated.