The incidence of match playing injuries in junior netball players in South Africa
Introduction: Netball is a fast pace game, which consists of high physical demands such as quick acceleration, deceleration, and a sudden change of direction as well as repetitive jumping. Junior netball players frequently engage in adult training programs to meet these demands of the sport, being exposed to higher training loads and intensities. Epidemiological studies provide the proof of risks for sports injuries, as well as the effects of preventative and therapeutic intervention. Objectives: The objective of this research was to assess the incidence of injuries in a cohort of junior South African netball players. Methods: Methods: The subjects included under fifteen, under sixteen and under nineteen netball players (N=560) who participated in two junior netball tournaments. Medical personnel and tournament organisers collected the data. Results: An average incidence of 24.7 injuries per 1000 playing hours were reported. The most common injured body segment was the knee joint (30%), followed by the ankle joint (28%). Contributing factors of the mechanism of injury included time of play, player position, previous injury and limited sessions of detrimental training modalities in current training programs such as flexibility (4 sessions per week @ 24 min per session), neuromuscular and proprioceptive training (2 sessions per week @ 19 min per session), correction of biomechanics (2 sessions per week @ 24 min per session) as well as core stability training (2 sessions per week @ 32 min per session). Conclusions: In an attempt to reduce the risk and incidence of injuries among junior netball players, it is advised to incorporate structured, evidence based injury prevention modalities based on the theory of specific adaptation to imposed demands of the game of netball. These programs must focus to improve core stability, neuromuscular control, balance / proprioception and correction of biomechanics during execution of functional activities of netball.