Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Incredibly, Another Post About Netball

Andrew was kind enough to send this information on netball from Australia:
Was interested to see you posting a netball rules video, and having played a little bit of (mixed) netball I thought I'd add some thoughts on it. 

It's hugely popular with young girls, and primarily a female sport. There are mixed competitions as you enter older age groups, but for kids, girls play netball and boys generally don't.

The main thing to know is that netball is horrific for lower limb injuries. You can probably tell from the amount of stress put on players' legs from using their "landing foot", and only being allowed one step. The sudden stop/start movement having to withstand momentum and impact leads to a lot of knee issues. At least with basketball you can take two (or three if you're a Pro) steps to disperse some of that impact and momentum. 

Here's an article on injury rates, where it ranks worse for lower leg and knee injuries than AFL, soccer and both rugby codes: Hard court: stats show netball's injury toll.

The other thing is that if you come from basketball as I did, the movement and defense almost breaks your brain. It doesn't seem like much but the drop from 2 steps to 1 is really difficult to un-learn. You either need to jump stop everything or land on one foot and then think about your next step. Which then leads back to the injuries.

The "contact" rule feels like you can't get sufficiently close enough to anyone to play defense. Any sort of body contact is penalised, which can get frustrating again if you come from another non-contact sport that allows incidental contact.

When I watched the video I linked to last week, it looked for all the world like a sport that was invented because women weren't "strong" enough to play basketball. All kinds of weird sports variations were created for that reason. So I looked up "history of netball," and immediately found this (Wikipedia):
The history of netball can be traced to the early development of basketball. A year after basketball was invented in 1891, the sport was modified for women to accommodate social conventions regarding their participation in sport, giving rise to women's basketball.

There we go.

I've mentioned this before, but all the way to 1978, girl's high school basketball in Texas was six on six (three on each half of the court, no crossing over). Parents, incredibly, had to sue to get five on five basketball.

The second thing I thought when I watched the video was that it looked like an ACL nightmare. That explosive stopping, over and over again. Women are at higher risk for ACL tears (I believe it's something about hip angle that puts more stress on the knee), and netball looked like the perfect environment for such injuries.

And it is, as it turns out.

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