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 to knees and ankles, especially in growing children.
Choosing the correct netball shoe for your child is vital in preventing injury, and also in aiding performance. The following are a few simple tips you can use when choosing the correct netball shoe.
- Cushioning: When stopping suddenly to shoot or pass, the force applied to your child’s feet and legs can exceed her body weight by up to 6 times. That’s why adequate cushioning is one of the most critical features of a netball shoe
- Traction: Netball can be played on a variety of different surfaces. A good outer-sole will allow your child to pivot more easily, provide grip and will ensure the shoe lasts longer
- Stability: With so many stopping, starting and pivoting movements, stability is critical in a good netball shoe. Look for a shoe that allows your child’s foot to sit down inside the shoe and has a firm heel counter
- Shock Absorption: With so much pressure on your child’s feet, adding an innersole or orthotic can help to provide her with extra support and cushioning. Custom foot orthotics can also help with troublesome skin blisters and callus.
Many girls prefer to wear running shoes for netball because they like the lighter, more flexible feel that the running shoes offer. However, running shoes are not designed with the same level of support for sideways movements often encountered in netball and this puts knees, ankles and feet at greater risk of injury.
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. The main difference is shown in the strength of the upper – the netball shoes are stronger in the upper
- 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 it sits closer to the ground, creating a more stable platform which helps to minimize the risk of ankle sprains.
There are a number of different netball shoe brands on the market. Always make sure your child is fitted professionally and you choose a shoe brand or style that suits her foot type.
Netball is a high impact sport and requires specific footwear to help reduce the impact on feet, ankles and knees and prevent injuries. If you need advice on sporting footwear, don’t hesitate to consult with our experienced Podiatrists for professional care and advice.