Netballer throwing ball

Keeping netball players in the game: We’re renewing our NetballSmart partnership

17 November 2020 by ACC
3 minute read

We're continuing our partnership with Netball NZ to lessen the rate of injuries on the netball court. Our investment will grow to $3.6m in the next three years.


Netball is the most popular sport for females in New Zealand, with over 136,000 players nationwide.

But it's also causing a high rate of serious knee and ankle injuries in female players. Last year alone we spent $30m on an excess of 25,000 claims. A recent 10-year nationwide review of netball injuries also revealed a 120% increase in the number of 15 to 19-year-old girls having Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery.

But it's not all bad news. A good warm up programme like NetballSmart can reduce ACL injuries by up to 50%.

That's why we're continuing our successful partnership with Netball NZ. We're also increasing our investment to $3.6m over the next three years.

ACC Injury Prevention Lead Kirsten Malpas says the increased investment in NetballSmart will enable Netball NZ to continue gaining momentum in preventing netball injuries.

NetballSmart is one of our most successful injury prevention programmes
- Kirsten Malpas, ACC Injury Prevention Lead

"In recent years ACL injuries have become more prevalent in 10 to 19-year-old females. This injury was usually a professional sports injury. This age group has the highest incidence and rate of ACL injuries, compared with other age groups. It highlights the need to continue targeting this age group.

"Since 2014 there has also been a steady decline in the rate of all netball injuries, reflecting the impact of the NetballSmart programme."

NetballSmart has also prevented 4,615 claims in the last three-year investment period. It also reduced and stabilised ACL injury rates.

Over the next three years the NetballSmart programme will look to:

  • continue to reduce the incidence and severity of netball injuries
  • engage more effectively with Māori
  • strengthen secondary school delivery and engagement.

Making NetballSmart successful for all players

Māori make up a quarter of all traditional netball participation but are the least satisfied with netball, according to the 2019 Voice of the Participant survey from Sport NZ.

"We want to explore the reasons for that dissatisfaction and ensure that NetballSmart is relevant and engaging for all Māori netballers," says Kirsten.

NetballSmart is not just focused on preventing injuries on the court. It recognises that netball plays a vital role in the community. Sport is also a powerful enabler of hauora (physical, mental, social, and spiritual health) and wellbeing.

"It was quite alarming a few years ago to see the high rate of serious knee and ankle injuries. It's pleasing to see the impact the NetballSmart programme is having on tackling this problem to help protect our players from serious injury.

"We know we have more work to do and over the next three years of this partnership. We look forward to continuing to work with secondary schools and also Māori netballers to ensure all players can keep playing the game they love, without the burden of season-ending injuries."

We've been working in partnership with Netball NZ since 1997. NetballSmart is the only sports programme to focus solely on tailored interventions to improve outcomes for females.

NetballSmart website

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