Female Netball Player’s Perceptions of the Shoes They Wear for Netball

Catterall, Megan
Frecklington, Mike
Carroll, Matthew
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Master of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

Introduction/Objectives Lower limb injuries are a common occurrence in netball players. Appropriate footwear is often recommended as part of injury prevention programs for netball players. Despite this, there is limited evidence regarding netball players’ understanding of what features are important and the rationale behind wearing netball shoes. The aims of this work were to determine netball players perceptions surrounding netball-specific footwear, and to determine the characteristics of footwear worn by netball players.

Methods This mixed methods study was conducted in two stages. In stage one, a qualitative descriptive methodology guided semi-structured interviews to gain insight into the perspectives of participants surrounding their netball footwear. In stage two, the characteristics of participants’ footwear was assessed using a reliable and validated footwear assessment tool. Participant interviews were analysed through thematic analysis. Footwear characteristics were analysed using descriptive statistics.

Results Nine female netballers with a mean age of 40 years old and mean playing experience of 22 years participated in the study. Three themes were derived from the data (1) thoughts and experiences when purchasing footwear, (2) key features of footwear, (3) effects of footwear on feet. Finding footwear that was fit for purpose was important when purchasing footwear, with brand loyalty a key factor in decision-making. A lack of options and high costs were identified as challenges to findings suitable footwear. Comfort and fit were key features that participants looked for in their footwear, which were linked to the construction of footwear. Footwear was reported as being a cause of foot problems but also for enhancing performance and injury prevention. Assessment of the participants’ current netball footwear found the majority was netball-specific and well fitted, with moderate midsole stability, cushioning, and minimal outsole wear.

Discussion/Conclusion The findings of the study identified that netball players encounter numerous challenges with their footwear both on and off the netball court. Health care professionals working with netball players should consider these findings when helping people find footwear for netball. Manufacturers of netball-specific footwear should also consider incorporating players' perceptions and preferences when designing footwear, to ensure that these meet the needs and expectations of netball players.

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