What are the benefits of playing netball?
Published January 2020 | 3 min read
Expert contributor Alanna Antcliff, head physiotherapist, the Diamonds
Words by Carmel Sparke
The health benefits of netball include fitness and bone strength, but the social and wellbeing benefits are also significant. Here’s why you should try playing netball.
Netball was once a chilly, early Saturday morning affair, with not a bloke in sight. These days box pleats have been replaced by Lycra, and the latest stats show one in 10 netballers is male. You can play in mixed teams, at night, indoors, in social games, corporate events and club competitions. New formats like the intense five-a-side version or the more moderately paced Walking Netball have also taken off.
If you’re looking for a fun way to build fitness while you socialise, netball could be your game.
“Netball’s a great sport to take up or continue to play, as it offers a broad range of health benefits,” says Alanna Antcliff, head physiotherapist for Australia’s national team, the Diamonds. “It works on fitness, endurance and strength. You’re also forming new friendships, building confidence, and sharpening attention.”
HCF is a proud partner of Netball Australia, supporting more than one million players across the country, from grassroots to elite levels. We meet top netballers and Aussies across the country who love the game at our HCF Netball Hub.
What are the benefits of netball?
Most would be familiar with the fast-paced passing game, which has seven team members on court, playing four quarters of 15 minutes each, in positions such as goal attack, centre and goal defence.
“Physically there are benefits to musculoskeletal health, bone density, cardio fitness, balance and coordination – not to mention cognitive stimulation and teamwork,” Alanna explains.
Netball is a cardio workout
Elite players cover between 2.3 and 6km over the course of a game, depending on their position, Alanna says. Weekend warriors may not be in that league, but these stats show netball is an aerobic workout.
“That’s equivalent to travelling about one to two lengths of the netball court every minute for 60 minutes, which is an excellent platform for fitness and endurance,” she says.
Agility through skills
Netball involves lots of jumping, landing, changing of direction and footwork, along with executing precise skills, which helps with strength and agility, says Alanna.
All that jumping, stopping and landing not only builds muscle but makes bones stronger, too. In fact, Osteoporosis Australia ranks netball as one of the best activities for increasing bone density. Alanna also points to a study showing bone density in women aged 42 to 50 was greater among those who played netball than those who swam instead.
Team sport benefits
Being a team sport, there are added positive social elements involved in taking part, along with the physical upsides of exercise. “There’s a strong association between team-sport participation such as netball, and life satisfaction and psychosocial health,” says Alanna.
A 2013 Australian study showed playing in team sports such as netball is linked with better health outcomes compared to individual exercise, due to the social nature of the activity.
How to join a netball club
A good starting point is to call your local netball club or association, which can point you in the direction of a club-based team or let you know about the various competitions in your area.
Netball Australia has links to associations in all states and territories.
Want even faster paced netball? Check out the Fast5 Netball comps taking off – these are particular popular with men. Or if a joint-friendly version appeals, look into Walking Netball for over 55s. Find details about all these comps and other aspects of the game at Netball Australia’s Play Netball website.
You can also become involved in the sport from the sidelines as a coach, manager or administrator; Netball Australia has information on the steps to take. So for a fun way to boost stamina, strength, physical confidence and friendships, consider donning the bib – no pleated skirts required.
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