Background Pre-elite athletes are at increased risk of injury/illness due to rapid increases in training load, insufficient rest and recovery, growth and a lack of support services compared to elite athletes.
Objective Surveillance of incidence, site, nature and mechanisms of injury/illness at the 2018 & 2019 17/U & 19/U Australian Netball National Championships (ANNC) and reduce injuries at the 2019 ANNCs.
Design Prospective observational cohort study.
Setting 2018 & 2019 17/U & 19/U ANNC’s.
Patients (or Participants) One hundred and ninety-two pre-elite athletes were observed each year.
Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors) A foot blister prevention pack and advice regarding an injury prevention program were provided to each athlete 6 weeks prior to 2019 ANNC’s.
Main Outcome Measurements Injuries were recorded prospectively by team physiotherapists using medical attention data collection methods at the 2018 & 2019 ANNCs.
Results The most frequently recorded medical attention injury diagnoses in 2018 were ankle sprain (n=14, 13.6%), foot blisters (n=11, 10.7%), and lumbar pain (n=10, 9.7%). In 2019 there were 16 (16.8%) ankle sprains, followed by 12 (12.6%) episodes of lumbar pain and 8 (8.4%) foot blisters. In 2018 there were 22 (21%) sports incapacity injuries with ankle sprain (n=4, 18.2%), anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture (n=3, 13.6%) and concussion (n=3, 13.6%) recorded most frequently. In 2019, there were 12 (12.6%) sports incapacity injuries with concussion (n=5, 5.3%) recorded most frequently followed by ACL rupture (n=4, 4.2%). The blister prevention intervention reduced the number of foot blisters at the 2019 ANNCs (IRR 0.73 0.58–0.91, p=0.002).
Conclusions This is the first publication in recent times to articulate tournament injury rates for pre-elite netball athletes. Ankle sprains are the highest medical attention injury in pre-elite netball athletes. This has not changed over the past 30 years indicating current injury prevention interventions for ankle sprain are not effective. Blister prevention packs and advice reduced the number of foot blisters.
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