South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation

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Epidemiology of Injuries in Elite South African Netball players

Emile Langeveld, Frederik F Coetzee, Louis J Holtzhausen


Netball places physically strenuous demands on players, such as quick acceleration, changing of direction and high jumps. Epidemiological studies provide the proof of risks for sports injuries, as well as the effects of preventative and therapeutic intervention. The objective of this research was to assess the incidence and severity of injuries in a cohort of elite South African netball players. The subjects were players (N=1280) who participated in three elite netball tournaments during the 2009 season. Team or tournament medical staff collected the injury data. A high incidence of 500.7 injuries per 1000 playing hours was reported. Most injuries occurred to the ankle joint (34%), followed by the knee (18%), fingers, hand and wrist (15%). Ligaments were the most commonly injured structures. The majority of injuries were minor. Factors associated with injuries included tournament play, previous injury, lack of core stability, neuromuscular and proprioceptive training. In order to reduce the amount of injuries to the lower extremities, it is recommended that netball players follow a structured programme to enhance core stability, neuromuscular control, and proprioception and to optimise biomechanical execution of functional movement patterns.

Keywords: Netball; Epidemiology; Injury prevention; Sports injuries

South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation, 2012, 34(2): 83-93

AJOL African Journals Online