The effects of instruction and feedback on lower limb kinematics and kinetics during landing in female novice netball players
Introduction: Netball is the largest female participation sport in New Zealand and Australia. Lower limb injuries, in particular to the ankle and knee, are common during landing in netball. Instruction and feedback on landing technique are often implemented in lower limb injury prevention programmes; however, these programmes commonly involve multiple neuromuscular training techniques such as proprioception, strength, balance, speed and plyometric training. The effect of instruction and feedback within specific sporting populations has not been widely researched. Although guidelines for landing are in use within New Zealand netball, these guidelines have not been evaluated. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of instruction and feedback (based on NetballSmart Netball New Zealand guidelines) on sagittal ankle and knee joint kinematics and kinetics during landing in female novice netball players.
Methods: Thirty-nine netball players (mean age 12 years) were allocated by school to either an instruction or control group. In a laboratory setting, participants completed two netball landing styles; double foot and one-to-two foot, after running forwards to catch a netball. Following baseline testing, the instruction group received instruction and feedback on their landing technique for 20 minutes while the control group practiced repeated landings while catching a ball without any instruction during the same time period. Three-dimensional motion analysis (Qualysis Medical, Sweden) was used to record movement and floor mounted force plates were used to record forces during landing. Sagittal ankle and knee joint angles, joint reaction forces, joint moments and ground reaction forces were assessed prior to and following instruction and feedback or landing practice. Repeated measures 2 x 2 analysis of variance was used to investigate kinematic and kinetic differences between the instruction and control group due to instruction and feedback on landing technique.
Results: The instruction group demonstrated significantly greater peak ankle dorsiflexion and peak knee flexion during landing, following instruction and feedback, for both landing styles (p < 0.001). They significantly reduced peak vertical joint reaction forces at the ankle and knee (p < 0.001), as well as peak anterior joint reaction forces at the ankle (p < 0.01). Furthermore, peak antero-posterior ground reaction forces (p < 0.05) as well as peak vertical ground reaction forces were significantly reduced (p < 0.001). The control group did not significantly alter their landing mechanics following landing practice.
Conclusion: Instruction and feedback on landing technique, based on the key principles of the NetballSmart landing guidelines, had a significant effect on landing biomechanics in female novice netball players. The kinematic and kinetic changes observed were consistent with reducing known risk factors associated with lower limb joint injury during landing. Instruction and feedback are simple and inexpensive techniques that can be easily disseminated to coaches and players in the netball community. This study provides the basis for further research to investigate the potential long term benefits of instruction and feedback in netball players. Addressing landing biomechanics in novice female netball players has the potential to reduce lower limb injuries in later adolescence.