HEALTHAGENDA

Netball

“The kit we can’t win without”: Super Netballers’ favourite sports gear

Whether you’re a professional athlete or just playing sports for fun, the right netball shoes and equipment can make the difference between a good game and a great result.

From the right shoes to a quality ankle tape, having the best equipment in your kit can help you train harder and prevent injury, whatever sport you play.

Some of Super Netball’s brightest stars have opened their gym bags to reveal their favourite netball shoes and other equipment – plus some surprising secret weapons.

What are the best shoes for playing netball?

High-quality, appropriate footwear is a must-have for every sport. But do you really need a special pair of netball shoes, or will any running shoe do the job?

According to Energetic Apparel, one of Australia’s primary producers of netball gear, the constant change of direction and speed of the sport can be punishing on the feet and joints, especially knees and ankles.

Because of this, netball shoes differ from running or other fitness shoes. They’re made to cope with the stress and strain that player positions and movements put on the body.

NSW Swifts midcourter, Tayla Fraser, is living proof that the right netball shoes can not only help you on the court, but can also help cushion the blow to your wallet.

“I used to play netball wearing running shoes and would need up to 8 pairs a season. The leather upper on the ASICS shoes that I wear now are more durable than the mesh uppers most running shoes have. Being a midcourter, I’m moving horizontally a lot, so I’d just go through the mesh.

“ASICS make different netball shoes to suit each player position, which is so clever as we all move around the court in different ways. I only need 2 pairs a season now which is incredible.”

Verity Charles, West Coast Fever midcourter, says that, for her, the right pair of shoes is one of the most important pieces of netball gear.

“Shoes are the biggest tool of my trade and without the right pair I’m in trouble. I only wear Under Armour Currys, named for NBA star Stephen Curry. They’re a basketball shoe and have incredible grip and softer cushioning, meaning I never have to break a pair in, I just put them on and play.”

You can find a wide range of netball shoes, including gear for kids, at national sports retailers like Rebel Sport and The Athlete’s Foot.

ASICS is an official partner of Netball Australia.

What is the best sports equipment for injury prevention and recovery?

Injury prevention and treatment is important when it comes to training and playing any sport, and many of Super Netball’s top teams rely on a simple piece of kit you can pick up in any chemist.

Kinesiology tape – also known as rigid or ‘KT tape’ – is designed to support muscles and joints without restricting movement.

Used for both prevention and recovery from an injury, kinesiology tape supports joints during times of high stress, like during a netball game.

“I’ve been strapping my ankles for 7 years, since I was 15,” says Tayla. “I’ve only ever had 1 ankle injury, but I can say there are a multitude of times I would’ve been injured without my tape. Netball is tough, especially when you’re jumping on floorboards 100 times every few minutes. Strapping my ankles gives me the confidence I need to chase those crazy balls and try and jump as high as I can.”

While quality brands of tape can be bought from many local chemists, due to an allergy to most adhesives, Tayla relies on a specific hypo-allergenic tape that won’t irritate her skin. “I use Leukoplast, which I’m not allergic to, but most of the players use Elastoplast or Victor.”

Ask your local pharmacist or physio about the best kind of tape for you and your sport.

Another helpful product for injury recovery and prevention is resistance bands, says Sunshine Coast Lightning’s Tara Hinchliffe. After rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus in her knee in 2021, the veteran defender faced surgery and a long recovery. The first physio session was spent entirely using resistance bands.

“The bands helped me build confidence in my knee again,” says Tara, who now incorporates resistance bands into all of her workouts and pre-game warm-ups.

“We use PTP Bands. They have different fabrics, strengths and lengths, meaning you can use them for everything, from a full-body workout to a stretch session. They’re really good quality and hard to break. My set has lasted me 5 years.”

You can find resistance bands at national sports stores or department stores like Myer and Target.

PTP is an official partner of Netball Australia.

Do I need to invest in expensive sports gear?

GIANTS Netball Wing Defender, Amy Parmenter, relies on a simple accessible exercise that keeps her fit for games and training, and co-ordinated on the courts: skipping.

“I was a really uncoordinated kid,” laughs Amy, who started skipping rope in her teens. “I was growing into my body and skipping helped me to move all in one direction.”

Amy also encourages the young players she trains to give skipping a go. “I get them to skip, then run with a skipping rope. It’s such a good way to get your body warm, especially the Achilles and other tendons, which are commonly injured in netball.”

While skipping ropes have come a long way in recent years, with some digital styles able to track heart rate and rope rotations, Amy says the GIANTS use a basic skipping rope. “You don’t need to spend a lot of money; a plain skipping rope works great.”

You can find skipping ropes in sports retailers or in sports sections of stores like Kmart and Big W.

Diamonds veteran and Queensland Firebirds midcourter Kim Ravaillion agrees that you don’t need a lot of big, bulky, expensive sports equipment to stay fit. Her 3 favourites (almost) fit in her gym bag.

“I love mini bands to work those small muscles, a trigger ball to target hard-to-reach areas and a foam roller for warm-up and recovery. I use all 3 in every workout, warm-up and my core routine.”

While Kim prefers fabric bands, which tend to slip less than rubber ones, she says you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get what you need.

The secret weapons of Super Netballers

“I drink Powerade before a game, and then add a shot to my water for an energy boost while I’m playing.”

Shamera Sterling, Adelaide Thunderbirds Defender

“I use coloured sticky tape to make a cross on my wall. I don’t have a net at home so this way I can train to hit the mark every time, just like we have to on court.”

Rahni Samason, Melbourne Vixens Shooter

“I always have a notepad and pen in my training bag so I can jot down any tips I get. Referring back to it at every session keeps me on track and improves my game.”

Tayla Fraser, NSW Swifts Midcourter

Words by Kerry McCarthy
First published February 2022

 

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