The Asics net burner range of shoes go with netball like fish go with chips.
Netburners have been around for 20 years now and having a sports specific shoe has been a real game changer for a lot of netballers. The transition from the running shoes (traditionally used) to a netball specific shoe wasn't always smooth. Change is seldom easy!
I believe footwear selection comprises of 3 main areas.
A lot of the netball resistance to change came from a feel of a running shoe with an aggressive positive pitch and a sturdy base.
Unfortunately running shoes don't lend themselves well to side-to-side movement and the aggressive high velocity stop-start, back and forward motion required of the netball shoes. Netball is predominately a high velocity multidirectional sport, and the footwear needs to reflect this. Durable upper material, wrap around midsole, stability, and lower pitch angle. These features also have a relevance to netball specific injury prevention.
The consequences of using inappropriate footwear are many, including compromised stability of the sole and upper of shoes (increased ankle sprains and strains), increased foot movement in and on the shoe and digital compression of the toe box of the shoe leading to digital deformities long-term (believe me I have seen the results first hand and they aren't always pretty).
The international footwear market is competitive and largely driven by volumes of sales, market share etc. The fact that ASICS were willing to take on establishing a new shoe design for small cohort such as netball players and develop a specific shoe for the sport is a testament to the authenticity and values that ASICS footwear have around wanting everyone to be active in body and mind. particularly woman's sport in this case.
This all gave rise to the ASIC'S Netburners range now 20 years young!
ASICS were a long way first off the mark with the concept of a netball specific shoe, as they were with the positive pitch 10 G football boots as seen in the lethal range.
There has been a steady increase in the number of shoes within the Netburner range.
The most recent edition to this range is the Netburner shield.
It is an exciting prospect of research application in footwear design. The shield is designed to complement all the formal philosophy of ACL injury prevention. This is a big deal in Netball!
ACL knee injuries are significant and serious injuries many of which, will require surgical repair and long rehab periods and roads back to play.
ACL Injury can lead to potential arthritis later in life and in some cases a career ending injury for some players.
Netball New Zealand implemented the Netsmart program. A sports specific injury prevention pre game warm up. (Similar the FIFA 11+ for football)
The netball shield is being researched at the University of Melbourne and compared with other netball shoes and running shoes. It is also designed to reduce the risk factors associated with ACL injury and complement the Netball smart's great work.
One of the main focuses was to reduce the loading of all the knee ligaments. This has been achieved by a lower heel drop (pitch) and increased medial support.
The mechanism of injury for ACL injuries is medial knee movement with a fixed foot. ACL Injury involves knee movement and forward movement on the tibia.
Studies on the shield have shown this design to reduce the share loading by about 20% above any of the other shoes tested.
As well as this, the Netburner is still the lightest option.
Player style and position may impact on the model selected as some midcourters may find the lighter midsole of the professional struggles to handle the forces applied but it is a great runner/hybrid shoe.
Netball Smart is the official injury prevention programme of Netball New Zealand. Netball Smart is an evidence based framework made up of 6 principles. It helps improve your performance in sport by preventing injuries.
Click the below link to head to their website and view the resources available.