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Ankle injuries are a common occurrence in the sport of netball. The sudden burst of speed, change of pace and direction, and jumping all put stress on the ankle. Good balance and a stable lower body allow athletes to compete with a lower risk of injuries.

ankle stability

Here are 5 ankle stability exercises for netball players to strengthen the ankle and improve balance and stability.

1. Single leg balance on an uneven surface

One of the best ways to improve stability is to challenge your ankle’s balance. Do this exercise by standing on the flat side of a BOSU ball or a soft squishy surface. You can watch the demo here.

The routine: 

  • Stand on the BOSU ball’s flat side with one leg for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other leg. 
  • Repeat for 3 rounds. 

If 30 seconds is too long, you can shorten the time and gradually increase it until you’re able to do it for 30 seconds. If this proves to be too easy, try playing catching a ball with the help of your teammate or trainer.

2. Single leg hops

Another exercise to test leg balance and stability is the single-leg hop. This exercise works the hips, knee, and ankles to ensure balance and build lower body power. This exercise gives you the stability and strength to make multi-directional jumps for catching or intercepting passes or changing directions with ease. It also teaches you how to land properly and bounce to the next action fluidly.

The routine: 

  • Stand on one leg then hop forward over an imaginary line. 
  • Land lightly on the balls of your feet, then hop backward. 
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps, then switch legs. 
  • Repeat the exercise, but this time, hop laterally. 
  • You can make it more challenging by increasing the distance of your jump.

3. Single leg squats

In netball, eccentric control is important for you to land properly and with control after each jump. The proper landing reduces the stress on your quads and ankles and lowers the risk of injury. Doing single-leg squat exercises greatly improves eccentric control and balance.

The routine: 

  • Stand on one leg with one foot extended forward and slightly bent. 
  • Lower to a squat position, hold for a second, then stand.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps, then switch legs.

Too difficult? You can hold on to a pole or the wall to keep yourself balanced. You can also do shallow squats, then progress to a lower squat without assistance.

4. Squat jumps

This exercise builds ankle stability and strength by making your lower body strong enough to carry your body weight. Lower body strength also decreases the risk of injuries to the knees and ankles.

The routine:

  • With your legs a shoulder-width apart, lower to a squat.
  • Jump explosively and land lightly and lower to do another squat.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

5. Calf raises

You can build ankle stability and strength with calf raises. This is critical for sudden acceleration and deceleration, which is common in netball.

The routine:

  • Stand on a flat surface with your toes pointed forward.
  • Slowly lift your heels and stand on your toes while flexing your calf muscles.
  • Pause then lower your heels. 
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Make sure your ankles don’t roll to the sides. Too easy? Carry a pair of dumbbells to add resistance.

Note: nothing in this blog post constitutes medical advice and before you start any new training program you should seek the advice of your doctor or healthcare professional.