Preventing ACL Injuries in Netball

Netball : New Zealand's most popular women's sport
Netball : New Zealand's most popular women's sport

Netball : ACL Injuries

New Zealand government figures point to the fact that netball is now New Zealand's favourite sport amongst New Zealand women (source: New Zealand Now). It's easy to see why: its fun, a great workout, competitive, and an incredibly dynamic team sport.

The injury rate in netball in comparison to other sports is relatively low thanks to continuing development of injury prevention programmes and increased education around performance, recovery, activation, mobility, flexibility, strengthening and injury management. The rate of injury for our friends across the ditch is 14 injuries per 1000 hours of netball played source: Sports Medicine Australia). Not too bad.

Back home, and Netball New Zealand states that "Netball has one of the highest risk rates of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in New Zealand sport. Around 400 Netball players in New Zealand have ACL reconstruction surgery each year; in the year to June 2016, ACC dealt with 3982 new knee injury cases from Netball alone" source: Netball New Zealand.
A basic diagram of your ACL

A basic diagram of your ACL

What your ACL Does

Simply put, your ACL, together with your PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) ensure knee stability whilst rotating: a common movement in netball.

The ACL also keeps your shinbone in place and prevents it from tracking too far forward: away from the knee and thighbone. It therefore also provides stability when rotating the shinbone.

how to prevent the likelihood of an acl injury

Preventing an ACL injury, or more broader knee injury requires a multi-dimensional approach and includes an appropriate warm-up and cool-down as well as the appropriate level of technique being executed, alongside proper footwear being worn.

You can decrease your chances of sustaining an ACL injury however by working through these 3 easy exercises on your foam roller.
Quadricep Roll-Out
Quadricep Roll-Out

1. Quadricep Roll-Out

Foam rolling your quadriceps helps to loosen up your patellar tendon, which helps prevent tendonitis and pain around your knee cap.

Starting Position

  • Lie face-down on the floor and support yourself with bent arms.
  • Splay one leg out to the side, bent at the knee, and keep the other leg completely straight and relaxed.
  • Place your roller approximately two centimeters/one inch above the knee of the bent leg and support yourself on your elbows

  • Slowly roll two centimeters/one inch up toward the pelvis.
  • Then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Applying these small steps, work your way up to the tip of the quadriceps—just before the bony part of the hip.
  • Only apply as much pressure as you can handle.
  • Then change sides.

2. Hamstring Roll-Out

Foam rolling your hamstrings not assists in preventing lower back pain, but also removes tension through the PCL.

Starting Position

  • Sit on the floor and support yourself on your hands, which are shoulder width apart.
  • Place your roller under your glutes, and shift your body weight into it.
  • Plant one foot on the ground to increase pressure; extend the other leg out loosely.

  • Once your roller is in position, lightly raise the bent leg off the floor and turn it outward.
  • Slowly roll back and forth with the roller under your glutes.
  • Then change sides.

3. Outer thigh roll-out (IT BAND)

Using your foam roller to work through your IT bands helps in preventing IT band syndrome and also releases any pain on the outer side of your knee.

Starting Position

  • Adopt a side-plank position.
  • Place your roller under the outer thigh of the lower leg.
  • Prop the upper body up on almost straightened arms.
  • Extend the leg over the roller.
  • Plant the other leg in front of your support.


  • Slowly roll back and forth by sliding the upper body over the roller.
  • Work the entire area from the hip to just above the knee.
  • Then change sides.

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