If you have a junior netball player in your life, or you are one, then you’ll know how important it is to play in the right kit. Not only will wearing the right clothing offer increased protection and support to growing bones and muscles, being part of a team in the same kit increases motivation and emotional wellbeing!
So what does the junior netballer really need?
Perhaps the most important area to start with are shoes.
Wearing the right shoes for any sport offers more protection to the foot and the legs than trainers or running shoes not specifically designed to take the impact of an hour long game or training session. Because netball does involve running, stop-starting and jumping as core mechanics of the game, the shoes that all players wear need to offer cushioning and support whilst being lightweight. Most games are also played on hard surfaces, so can be harder on the feet and legs if they don’t have adequate support.
One example of these would be the ASICS Gel Netburner GS Professional Netball Shoes. These use ASICS trademarked GEL™ technology both at the front and rear of the shoe for enhanced cushioning., as well as a AHAR+ rubber insole (which also offers excellent resistance against abrasions). These two combined offer midfoot stability to the player as well as comfort with a removable sock liner (also adds cushioning) and personal heel fit.
As with all shoes, it is important that the shoes offer a good fit. Ill fitting shoes of any type will cause pain and discomfort and with children this can be exacerbated by adding pressure to the toes, knees and posture problems later in life.
There’s a wide range of netball clothing to choose from, depending on need. Everyday clothing such as training and leisurewear is perfect for netball fans and players, whereas more specific items such as skirts/skorts and dresses are used primarily when either training or playing in a game. It is also possible to buy specific underwear and cushioned socks for games.
As with all clothing, again the fit is important. It can be frustrating kitting junior players out as they do insist on growing like weeds, but on the other hand you can’t perform properly in clothing that is too tight or too big. Bear this in mind when buying a full complement of clothing and shoes, as it may well be outgrown before its time is up.
Whichever brand and items you end up, make sure to look at the fabrics and technologies they offer. The Gilbert Flash Netball Dress, for example, has eyelet mesh panels around the armholes and back which allows for ventilation and is made of high stretch fabric for comfort and moisture dissipation.
Netball bibs, which go over the top of the clothing, are there mainly for training and teamwear purposes. They allow the players to identify their team mates and are made from lightweight materials.
Every player needs a bag; you don’t have to buy a specific “netball” one but they are tailored for the sport (and unlike clothing and shoes, won’t be outgrown).
Netball bags come in a range of sizes and styles, dependant on need. A junior player should not be overloaded when carrying their bag, as it can put strain on their shoulders and back, so think of their individual need. It may be a bag dedicated to just the essentials would work (you can buy water bottle bags or ball bags, for example), or a bigger holdall to carry training kit, a ball, shoes etc.
For a junior player, a rucksack may be one of the best options. As an example, the Gilbert Club Rucksack V2 is a medium size with padded straps, which offers protection for the shoulders and back. Players can easily fit the essentials in with a bit of spare room to add in anything additional such as mobile phone or house keys.