Netball’s huge participation base of 2-m registered players in South Africa is bound to grow as interest in the 2023 Netball World hosted in Cape Town heats up. This year, interest is bound to peak around July when the Spar Proteas will be trying to better their recent good performances in England during the Liverpool World Cup.

That means that the demand for proper netball shoes, which are designed to withstand the specific rigours of the game, will grow.

And for the first time netball fanwear and a replica range, designed by PUMA, will be available from 2020. PUMA SA signed an agreement with Netball SA in February this year that it will be the exclusive kit and off-court shoe partner to the Spar Proteas team for the 2019 Netball World Cup played in Liverpool, England, in July. From 1 January 2020 PUMA SA will also become the long term exclusive kit and shoe partner to Netball SA. ASICS is currently the performance footwear supplier to the Spar Proteas.

Nobody will attempt to run the Comrades in soccer boots or play rugby in running shoes. Yet, so often customers will wear their running shoes on a netball court — without realising that it is just as inappropriate as the first two examples.

By wearing a running shoe when playing netball, your customer not only exposes her- or himself to possible injury, but also reduces her ability to play the game at her best. Netball is a fast-paced, action-filled, high-energy sport that requires constant moving, constant direction changing, jumping and landing. A runner, on the other hand, has a steady forward-moving stride when running in a fairly straight line.

A netball player wearing running shoes cannot efficiently control her movement and stopping, which can cause her foot to slip on the court surface, resulting in ankle and knee injuries. Furthermore, you cannot change direction quickly or smoothly in running shoes, which negatively impacts your performance on the court.

On the other hand, a proper netball shoe is designed to facilitate these short, sharp movements and quick changes of direction, says Olympic International, who is the official shoe supplier of SA Schools Netball (SASN). A netball shoe also requires excellent shock absorption, as jumping to intercept those high passes and landing on hard surfaces can have a significant impact on the player’s feet and joints. The correct shoe does not only enhance your game but can also prevent injury and keep you in the game, continues the brand, locally distributed by Bolton Footwear.

Therefore, recommend a netball shoe with Strobel stitching, a manufacturing method that offers more flexibility and is commonly used in most athletic shoes. Other features to look for in a netball shoe are a cut that sits higher up on the ankle to provide that vital ankle protection needed in this game; a padded tongue and collar to offer extra support; and gel pads in the heels provide extra shock absorption for heavy landings. An eyelet-locking mechanism that offers stability can prevent slippage of the foot in the shoe and a rubber midsole provides the quick-reaction bounce of a netball player.

Olympic International signed a two-year partnership agreement with SA Schools Netball from July 2017. “The game is intense and places a lot of pressure on your knees and ankles, which means wearing the correct shoes is of paramount importance,” Stuart Hopwood, Group Head of Marketing at Bolton Footwear, said at the time.