Selecting the right pair of netball shoes
File photo credit: Chris McGrath/SSC
By Yeo Han Hwee
Let’s face it, if you want to play in a sport, especially at a competitive level, you need the right tools. And in netball, that means you must have the right shoes for your feet.
Some of you may ask, “Why can’t I use my normal shoes?” Well, the answer is, “The way you move should determine the type of shoes you buy”. If you don’t, your ability to execute certain types of movement diminishes. In the worst case scenario, the wrong footwear might even lead to injury!
Let’s use running shoes as an example. Running shoes facilitate repetitive, forward movement. The cushioning is primarily on the heel and toes, and the tread and outersole are thicker.
When you wear these to play netball, the results are:
In netball, you put out short, quick bursts of speed. You have to start and stop suddenly. You have to turn, pivot and jump.
- your ability to make quick, sudden changes in direction is reduced.
- your ankle sits higher and is unprotected, and is far more vulnerable to rolling or twisting.
Running shoes simply do not provide the right kind of support for this type of footwork. They were never designed for this sport in the first place, which is one of the main reasons why they are not recommended as footwear for netball players.
So what are the considerations that you have to take into account when you buy a pair of shoes for netball?
1. Your legs and feet
Everyone’s legs and feet are a little different, and that affects the shoes and insoles you should wear. Does your feet have a high arch, normal arch, or low arch (i.e. flat feet)? Are your legs equally long, or is one slightly shorter than the other?
It is quite worthwhile to go for a checkup with a doctor to see if you require a pair of corrective, orthotic insoles. Over the long term, these will help alleviate musculoskeletal stress, align the feet in the shoes in their best functional position, and help reduce ankle, knee, hip, and back pain.
Image credit: http://www.forwardarch.com/common-foot-problems.html
Netball requires running, quick starts and stops, side movements, and sudden changes in direction. Therefore, test whether the shoes offer support for front and back as well as lateral movement.
3. The Outsole
We play netball either on a court made of polished wood or asphalt. Proper netball shoes have to be able to handle wear and tear on such surfaces in addition to offering good traction.
For this reason, it needs to be made of stronger and thicker material than regular running shoes. Often, the soles are made of hard and highly durable rubber compounds.
4. Lower Platform
A good netball shoe allows the foot to sit on a lower platform. This helps to maximise comfort and cushioning on the sides of your feet, and offers all round stability and protection. It also reduces the chances of spraining and twisting an ankle by offering a greater range of movement and flexibility.
Of course, at the end of the day, choose the pair that fits you, your budget, and the one you feel most comfortable in. If you are a casual netball player, and money is a concern, go for a cheaper pair – although they might wear down faster than usual.
But if you are an enthusiast, or you play competitively, shoes are an important investment. After all, if you don’t use the right tools, you are not likely to get the desired results.
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