Preventing Netball Injuries on the Tennis Court

Netball injuries are far more common for tennis players that adopt a serve-volley attacking style.  This is because rushing the net and suddenly changing direction to reach a ball increases the strains on the body, making such twisting injuries more common.  Even if you only approach the net on rare occasions—as when the opposing player plays a drop shot or when you are forced in to volley a short lob—you could still injure yourself.

The tennis life of professional players on both the men’s and women’s side is already relatively short due to injury as is—you will rarely see a player last as long as an Andre Agassi or a Martina Navratalova.  However, players who adopt a serve-volley technique are likely to shorten their careers even more because of netball injuries (McEnroe being the obvious exception that proves the rule).

Therefore, if you are going to adopt this retro style, there are certain precautions you should take to limit the amount of injury risk.

Use the Proper Equipment

One of the most important factors when you play sports at a high level is to use the proper equipment.  Many netball injuries could have been avoided by simply having the proper tennis sneakers.  If you play on the hard courts, your tennis sneakers should give you the right amount of support without putting extra strain on your ankles (the most common of all netball injuries).  Look for tennis shoes that rise up to partly cover your ankles so that you will not have added strain. 

Make sure to get your shoes properly fitted so, as well.  Tennis shoes that that are too loose, make it easier for you to roll over your ankle when suddenly changing direction.  If you had to choose between the two, you would rather have tennis shoes that are slightly too tight, but you don’t want to overdo this either.  Overly tight shoes can cause your toes to pinch and expose you to other sorts of injury.

Never play when you don’t have the proper equipment.  If you brought your hard court sneakers but find that you have only grass courts to choose from, do not play.  Having the wrong kind of equipment is a sure way to injure yourself.  It goes without saying that you should never play barefoot, no matter how inviting a grass court may look.

Buy new tennis shoes before you accumulate too much wear and tear.  Many tennis players injure themselves simply because they tried to get far too much mileage from shoes that should have been retired long ago.  When you begin to see the first signs of deterioration, do not try to extend the life of your sneakers at the cost of your own ankle health.

Don’t Play on a Damaged or Less Than Ideal Court

You should also avoid playing under less than ideal conditions.  If the only available court to play on in your area is a poorly kept court with uneven surfaces and hazardous cracks, you will have to make the trip out of your immediate area. 

Similarly, never play on a slick surface.  Always wipe up pools of water and wait for a court to be completely dry before you play on it.  Never continue to play when it starts to rain, even if it is only a light drizzle.  A wet surface is a dangerous surface, especially for a serve-volley player who is always changing direction and chasing flying balls.

Eliminate Unnecessary or Dangerous Movement from Your Game

Finally, it goes without saying that you should warm up before playing even the most casual match.  However, you should also eliminate dangerous practices from your game.  Even if you grew up playing on the clay courts of Monaco, never slide on a hard surface, no matter how tempting.  Even on the clay courts, this is a dangerous practice.  On the hard surfaces, it is perfectly suicidal for your ankles.

Similarly, you should avoid sudden stops.  If a player has beaten you and you have guessed in the wrong direction, avoid completely changing your momentum in a futile attempt to cover the open court.  Try to foster a smooth movement at the net and always to keep your body under control.  The more herky-jerky your movements, the higher the chance for injury.

Finally, know when to call it a day.  If you feel any sort of pain or strain in your ankles just stop playing and save yourself for future matches.  Most netball injuries occur when people ignore the signs their bodies are giving them.