A CQUniversity-led research study could hold the key to taking Australian netball to new heights, with a promising collaboration between physiotherapy and sports science.
Dr Aaron Scanlan, Lecturer in Exercise and Sport Sciences at CQUniversity has teamed up with Sean Mungovan, Principal Physiotherapist at Mungovan, Breckenridge Physiotherapy and Associates to investigate strategies to improve training schedules, performance outcome and recovery patterns in elite female netball players.
With Aaron and Sean both having extensive experience working with international and national-level athletes in both basketball and netball, the pair have teamed up with the New South Wales Swifts in the ANZ championship to conduct the research.
“The aim of this project was to develop a high-intensity circuit test that replicates key movement patterns during netball competition,” Aaron said.
The test involves a range of netball-specific sprints, stops, shuffles, turns and changes in direction.
“The test was initially developed by a team of international coaches and physiotherapist teams. We conducted extensive pilot testing to ensure the test was practical, and the initial phase of actual data collection is examining the reliability and validity of the test.”
Since the research team began working with the Swifts in late 2012, there have been several successful outcomes.
“We have just completed another testing session, and our initial findings support the reliability and the validity of the test,” Aaron said.
He said there are more testing sessions scheduled with the Swifts in 2014 to see if any changes are found in fitness across the season, which will also be another good way to validate the test.
The project would also assist in a faster rehabilitation of netball players returning from injury.
“We plan to implement the test to discriminate performance and predict successful return from injury in netball players,” Aaron said.
Ultimately, the researchers plan to roll the test out nationwide at both an elite and semi-professional level to examine its usefulness.
“We are planning to approach and implement the test to all teams competing in the ANZ Championship moving into 2015,” Aaron said.
“We see this as a significant opportunity to advance our understanding and practice in netball.
“This research is fundamental if Australia is to continue to compete at a high level internationally.”