Original Research

Morphological and skill-related fitness components as potential predictors of injury in elite netball players: A cohort study

Colleen J. Sinclair, Frederik F. Coetzee, Robert Schall
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 77, No 1 | a1524 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v77i1.1524 | © 2021 Colleen J. Sinclair, Frederik F. Coetzee, Robert Schall | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 August 2020 | Published: 18 May 2021

About the author(s)

Colleen J. Sinclair, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Frederik F. Coetzee, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Robert Schall, Department of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Sciences, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: A limited number of studies on the epidemiology of injuries and fitness profiles of netball players in South Africa have been conducted, but no research on the potential morphological and skill-related fitness predictors of injuries could be located.

Objectives: We investigated whether morphological or skill-related factors measured in the pre-season could predict injuries sustained in-season.

Method: In our cohort study, 77 under-18 (U18), U19, U21 and senior elite netball players underwent pre-season testing including anthropometry, balance, flexibility, explosive power, upper and lower body strength, core strength, speed and agility testing. A questionnaire was used to collect demographic data, elite-level experience and injury history. Injuries in pre-season, training and matches were recorded during the subsequent 2017–2018 season using an injury profile sheet.

Results: Amongst the 77 players who underwent pre-season fitness tests, 33 players (42.9%) had at least one injury. Regarding player morphology, a significant association of body mass and body fat percentage with injury risk was found in a simple logistic regression. In a multiple logistic regression analysis, only fat percentage (p = 0.0508) remained a significant predictor of injury at the 10% significance level, with higher fat percentage being associated with lower injury risk.

Conclusion: Heavier players and players with a higher fat percentage had a decreased injury risk.

Clinical implications: As a result of the apparent protective effect of heavier weight of players, referees should more strictly enforce the no-contact rule in netball. Further research on functional movement screening as a tool for potential prediction of injury in netball is recommended.


Keywords

netball; risk factors; injury; prevalence; incidence; skill-related fitness

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