During the national lockdowns, with gyms and sports clubs not being able to operate, lots of people have started new forms of training.
We have been asked for advice on what type of shoe to wear whilst exercising. Some footwear choices are more obvious than others. For example, if you are running or walking then you should look for the best possible running or walking shoe options.
It can be a bit more confusing when your fitness regime is more varied though…
A VERSATILE OPTION FOR LADIES THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX?
Netball is a very fast-paced, vigorous, high impact sport. The game involves many types of movements such as short sprints, jumping, leaping and lunging, pivoting, and rapid changes of direction. These movements are not unique to netball and, to some extent, will be performed in most other sporting and fitness activities.
Netball, like most team sports, can be hard on your footwear, feet, and joints. This means that netball shoes are designed in a way to cope with varied and specific movement patterns and help to avoid certain injuries.
With this in mind, can netball shoes be used more extensively?
Below is a list of the key components of a netball shoe, highlighting why they are designed in such a way and what benefits that may bring…
Key components and features:
Netball can be played outside on tarmac or inside sports halls on wooden floors. The grip on the bottom of the shoe is therefore designed to be hardwearing, tacky, and non-marking. A good grip is needed to avoid slips and falls but also to allow quicker changes of direction. There are often pivot points to aid agility and overlap around the border of the sole to act as a drag guard and improve durability.
This part of the shoe is where most of the cushioning and support can be found. Moving quickly and heavy landings will ultimately lead to high impact forces and an increase in shock entering the body. Therefore netball shoes have to offer high levels of cushioning and shock absorption.
This is achieved with enhanced cushioned foams and special plates that run through the soles of the trainer.
These plates (such as Mizuno’s Wave Plate) help to disperse shock and provide some propulsion and energy return. They are also used to improve the torsional stability of the footwear to help limit unwanted movement.
Lateral ankle ligament injuries, or ankle strain/sprains, are the most common netball injuries. By supporting the underside of the foot and reducing the outwards rolling or twisting of the foot we can often avoid this injury without the need for ankle braces.
Unlike running trainers the cushioned midsole on netball shoes is thinner and flatter to the ground. The lower centre of gravity gives a more grounded and stable footing.
Although highly absorbent, netball shoes are not super soft either. A firmer design creates a more supportive footing and more responsive push-off when stopping or changing direction quickly.
The materials that fasten around and hold the foot in place are tough to avoid stretching, breathable to avoid overheating and are lightweight to promote speed and comfort. Most netball shoes are cut higher around the ankle to help reduce movement and increase support and proprioception.
After looking at the movement patterns performed in netball and the design of netball shoes and the technology found in them it is fair to say that the footwear is a pretty good ‘’all-rounder’’.
They can double up as a cross trainer or multi-purpose gym/fitness shoe. No shoe exists that will do it all but a netball shoe ticks a lot of boxes. Their main limitation will be running where a softer more curved sole design is more beneficial.
Alternative uses to consider:
Circuit Training, Aerobics, and Home Workouts – Squat jumps, shuttle runs, squats, lunges, and various bodyweight exercises are movements that are largely similar to those performed on a netball court.
Body Combat and Step Classes – Netball shoes will support the high intensity stepping as well as the pivoting and lateral movements performed whilst kicking and punching.
Body Pump and Weight Lifting – The firm, supportive, and grounded footing of a netball shoe is much better for dealing with weighted exercises than soft spongy trainers.
Racket Sports – The non-marking outsole, drag guard, and support given by netball shoes will work on racket courts too. If you play a racket sport regularly and intensely and are looking for a pair of trainers for that specific purpose then we would advise investing in a specific Tennis or Indoor Court shoe, but there are so many similarities that netball shoes will work.
If racket games are less frequent, maybe more social, and less intense and not the only activity you are choosing footwear for, then netball shoes will be more versatile. They are lighter and more breathable than most tennis shoes and more cushioned than most indoor court shoes.
It is fair to say that Netball has been one of the hardest hit sports since COVID came along. No (or limited) indoor sports, the ‘‘Rule of 6’’, sports halls, gyms and schools all being closed has made training and playing the sport almost impossible! We are hoping that everyone has looked to maintain their fitness so that they are ready for that first game back. We hope this article may give you the confidence to use your existing shoes for another purpose if you see fit.
For most multi-directional activities we want the shoes to be supportive and fairly snug. This will mean that for most customers, this item of footwear will be a half size smaller than their running shoes. As we want running shoes to have plenty of room in them, most people will take a size or size and a half bigger for running shoes. If unsure, we, therefore, recommend that you buy a netball/fitness shoe in a half size bigger than your ‘’normal/everyday’’ shoe size.
Unfortunately, men do not have this netball shoe option! The most similar products can be found here – https://www.alexandrasports.com/collections/mens-gym-shoes
We would normally offer a fitting and assessment service at one of our stores to assist you if necessary, but with the current lockdown restrictions that is not possible.
Although we may not be able to open the doors of our stores we are still able to help!
Please get in touch if there is anything you need help with – firstname.lastname@example.org
Our website, however, is still open and we have free postage on all orders – https://www.alexandrasports.com/