Epidemiology of injuries among U18, U19, U21 and senior elite netball players


Background: Despite a substantial body of literature on injuries among elite netball players in South Africa, no study reports on the timing and type of injuries and the reason for injuries.

Objective: To determine the epidemiology of injuries in U18, U19, U21 and senior netball players in the Free State (FS), South Africa, over two consecutive netball seasons (2017/2018).

Methods: An injury questionnaire was used to collect data on 96 eligible players.

Results: A total of 48 injuries were reported. The profile of injuries revealed that 58% (n=28) of the injuries occurred during matches, 29% (n=14) during practice and 13% (n=6) during preseason training. Acute injuries accounted for 54% (n=26) of the total, while 46% (n=22) were overuse injuries. A third of all the injuries were re-injuries. The centre (C) position had the highest incidence of injuries in players (n=14; 29%). The ankle was the most frequently injured body part (n=18; 36%), followed by the lower leg and Achilles tendon (n=6; 13%) thus largely the ligaments and muscles. The overall incidence rate of injuries during match play was 33.9 injuries per 1 000 hours of match play.

Conclusion: Preventative strategies should consist of ankle and lower leg strengthening and neuromuscular balance techniques. The focus should be on correct landing techniques, results of abrupt change of direction movements and short bursts of speed.

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