Netball is a sport in which two teams face each other on a court and try to score goals. The game is similar to basketball except that it is faster-paced, since players can only hold the ball for three seconds and cannot dribble the ball down the court. This fast action, constant starting and stopping and throwing the ball can be taxing for both your upper- and lower-body muscles. To keep your muscles flexible and reduce the risk of injury, stretch your muscles before and after practices and games.
Warm-up stretches should be dynamic and involve movements that mimic the exercise you are about to perform. Before you perform pre-game stretches, it is vital to make sure you warm up your muscles with a slow jog or other light activity. Stretching cold muscles can lead to tears and decreased flexibility and performance.
Pre-game Upper-body Stretches
Your pre-game stretches should cover both your upper- and lower-body muscles. For your upper body, try arm circles to open up your shoulder muscles and get blood flowing to your arms. To perform the stretch, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and circle your arms forward for 30 seconds and then repeat with your arms circling backward. Trunk rotation stretches will also help prepare your body for the twisting and turning required to maneuver through the court and to throw the ball across the body. Stretch your arms out in front of you and swing them from side to side for 30 seconds, twisting your torso as you move.
Pre-game Lower-body Stretches
You will be running in different directions during netball, so it’s important to include a stretch that will help prepare your legs for these movements. Forward leg swings involve swinging each of your legs back and forth. Also include side-to-side swings, which involve you swinging each of your legs from side to side in front of your body. Hurdle stepovers are also effective for stretching your hip muscles. Stand and bring your knee up to hip level, then rotate it out to the side and step down. Repeat all moves for 30 seconds per leg.
Cool-down stretching serves a different function than warm-up stretching. This particular type of stretching is static and involves lengthening your muscle without movement. The purpose of this type of stretching is to relax and lengthen the muscle to increase flexibility and to reduce risk of injuries. Because the muscle lengthens, it also weakens and has a reduced ability to produce power and force, which is why it should not be performed prior to your exercise or sport.
Post-game Lower-body Stretches
Most lower-body netball injuries are occur in the lower body. For this reason, it’s crucial to stretch all of the major lower-body muscles. To stretch your quadriceps, bend your knee and bring your leg back so that you can hold your foot. You should feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. To target your hamstrings, stretch out one of your legs in front of you, keeping your knee straight, and lean forward until you feel the stretch in the front of your legs. To stretch your hip flexors, kneel on one leg on the ground with your other leg bent in front of you. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds per side.
Post-game Upper-body Stretches
While fewer injuries occur in the upper body during netball, your arms, shoulders and back can still be sore after the constant ball-throwing that happens during the game. To stretch your upper trapezius, place your hands behind you, with one grasping the other. Pull one arm down while slowly tipping your head toward the shoulder of that arm. To focus on your lower traps, stand facing a wall and bend at the waist. Use the wall to support you and press your chest down until you feel the stretch in your mid-back. To stretch your shoulders, clasp your hands behind you. Stretch your arms as you turn your elbows toward each other.
- Shape: The Best Way to Stretch Before and After a Workout
- Mayo Clinic: Stretching: Focus on Flexibility
- Netball Australia: Stretches
- Netball: Steps to Success; Wilma Shakespear, Margaret Caldow
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