26 March, 2010
Safety Rules for Netball
Netball is a very fast-paced game played on a court that is similar to a basketball court. It requires speed and agility. Injuries are fairly common, and, in Australia, netball injuries account for 7 percent of adult and 4 percent of child sports-related injuries, notes Sport and Recreation Victoria. Officially, there is only one rule in place to ensure the safety of the players. Unofficially, many leagues impose additional rules.
Netball is not a contact sport, and, therefore, a distance of 3 feet must be maintained between the person holding the ball and a defender. (This distance must be maintained between members of the same team, as well. Although, among teammates, the rule is enforced to create a means for the other team to steal the ball.) The 3-foot distance makes contact unlikely, and, when it does occur, play is stopped, and the victim of the foul is given a free shot at the basket from the place on the court where the contact occurred.
Preparation and practice helps prepare the body for the physical requirements of netball. Practice should include agility training to increase balance and, thus, decrease the risk of injuries to the ankles and knees. Go For Your Life, a government-sponsored program in Australia, suggests that training include the use of wobble boards and/or balance mats.
Additional attention should also be directed toward appropriate landing techniques for an athlete as she catches a passed ball. Once a player catches a ball and lands on the court, the landing foot--the first foot to hit the court after the catch--cannot be moved until the ball is passed. Improper landing, then, can place players in awkward and, potentially, dangerous positions.
Equipment and Court
Using the appropriate equipment will further decrease the likelihood of injury. Players, then, must wear athletic shoes that provide both support and traction. The goalposts at each end of the court should be padded, as well, and the space around the court should be large enough to allow for players to overrun the court without risk of collision.
Player Fitness Exam
Before each competition, Sports and Recreation Victoria suggests that coaches perform a brief fitness exam on the players. Thereby, ensuring that all team members are healthy enough to play the game safely.