Background With England netball announcing that for the first time in its history it will be offering full time, professional contracts there is an increased need to be able to understand why players are getting injured in top level competition.
Objective To undertake a prospective epidemiological study of injuries sustained in elite netball.
Design A cohort design was used to collect descriptive injury data using superleague netball players.
Setting 2016 British Netball Superleague season.
Patients (or Participants) 103 players across 8 superleague netball teams were used in the study.
Main Outcome Measurements Date of injury, age of player, playing position, activity at time of injury, mechanism of injury, classification of injury at two levels (body location and injury type), predicted time loss and identification of injury being acute, gradual on set or recurrent was recorded. Injuries were recorded by physiotherapists at each netball franchise using a specific injury audit questionnaire designed to suit the characteristics of netball.
Results 59 injuries we recorded during one season with an injury incidence rate of 9.08 injuries per 1000 hours exposure. Injuries were more common in competitive match play (71.2%) than in training (28.8%). The ankle was injured most frequently (35.6%). Data revealed a significant association between match quarter and occurrence of injuries χ2 (3)=9.91, p=0.019. A tendency for injuries to increase throughout the time in match and a peak reached at the third quarter was observed. No significant association was observed between playing position and injury incidence χ2 (2)=0.917, p=0.632. Overall injury frequency was highest in the first half of the regular 14 week season with 57.6% of all injuries occurring in this time frame.
Conclusions Pre-season preparation, half time match strategies and overall physiological conditioning should be considered when addressing injury prevention within elite netball.