More popular in Australian and British countries, netball is a lot like basketball. Two teams battle to get a ball through their opponent's net, but the only catch is that passing is the only way to advance the ball. Because of this, netball injuries relating to balance and pivoting are common. If you're dying to try this sport from across the pond, the proper prep work and gear can help keep you safe and ready to play again.
Since netball requires a lot of pivoting -- players can only take one step and have three seconds to pass -- your legs will be doing most of the work during the game. Proper stretching that focuses on the hamstrings, ankles and quads is necessary, along with some light cardio to help warm up your muscles before a game. You'll also need to be sure that you're healthy enough to play, since netball is a fast-moving, high-cardio type of game. When in doubt, query your doctor as to whether or not netball is appropriate for you.
You'll need to work on your balance if you want to be an effective netball player. Constantly stopping short and pivoting around could throw you off. While some physical contact is allowed in netball, it should never be purposeful or used to hurt another player. You'll also be required to jump a great deal during the game, so knowing how to properly jump and land with soft knees is a must to prevent tears and overuse injuries.
Don't play netball unless you're prepped with the proper gear. Shoes with plenty of shock absorption can help cushion your joints when you jump and wearing braces on weak or previously injured wrists and ankles can help stabilize your joints as you play. Check to make sure the actual netball net is securely in place and use only a regulation ball, which looks more like a volleyball than a basketball.
Netball can be played both indoors and outdoors, as long as the court is safe. Never play with any type of debris on the court and avoid courts that are wet, since they can become slippery and cause injury when stopping and pivoting your feet. Make sure the area around the court is cleared as well, since spectators, loose gravel or other obstacles could prove dangerous if the ball or players went out-of-bounds.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.