If you’re a netballer, you would know that knee and ankle injuries are a common side effect of this action-packed game. But a new program developed by Netball Australia with support from the Australian Institute of Sport is set to change all that.

It’s called the KNEE Program – Knee injury prevention for Netballers to Enhance performance and Extend play. And it’s essentially a courtside warm-up to prepare players to land better and to move safely and more efficiently.

Most knee injuries occur when landing. The force and misalignment of the knee can damage, in particular, one of the major stabilisers of the knee; the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). In fact, ACL injuries make up about 25 per cent of all serious netball injuries.

Hence, the KNEE Program, which is designed to not only reduce a player’s chance of being sidelined by injury but will improve how they actually move on the court.

The same exercises are being rolled out nationally, and are tailored for three specific groups of players – junior (under 14 years), recreational (over 14 years) and elite level athletes (state and national reps). It means players can perform in a number of teams or squads and have a consistent structure to their training.

The KNEE Program involves Warm Up, Strength, Balance/Landing and Agility Sections. It specifically targets safe take off and landing techniques, giving attention to the overhead arm position. Each player is also conditioned for efficient deceleration and change of direction, so that they have the skills to cope with the demanding multidirectional nature of netball.

To be properly effective the Program really must be completed at least twice a week and continuously throughout the season. Also, each move needs to be performed correctly, so that bad habits aren’t reinforced, and the player benefits. In addition, everyone must be onboard with the Program for it to work – from the coaches to the players and even the parents of players.

The ultimate aim of the Program is to keep children and adults playing the sport they love without being limited by injury – and really, what could be more important than that?

For more information and to take an in-depth look at the manuals for each group of players, visit The KNEE Program.

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Are you a netballer who has started utilising the KNEE Program. We’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments section.

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