Injury prevention and player welfare are the heart of several temporary rule changes for the upcoming Suncorp Super Netball season.
After widespread consultation and discussion with medical experts, high performance managers, players and clubs, it has been determined that;
These changes will be supported by the Suncorp Super Netball Injury Surveillance Manager, a new role that will provide up-to-the-minute data to senior medical, high performance and administrative staff at league and club level throughout the season.
Suncorp Super Netball CEO Chris Symington said the initiatives were designed to protect player health and welfare which in turn would support a season in which the world’s best netball players could showcase their skills in a condensed program of games.
‘’We made these changes because healthy athletes mean a healthy season where players are given enough rest to keep them at the top of their game. I want to thank the many people who have contributed to this outcome with their flexibility, collaboration and determination to create a vibrant and dynamic season,” he said.
‘’I also want to thank fans who have continued to support their clubs during this unprecedented period and assure them that bonus points and extra time will return in 2021 when we run a full season.’’
Australian Netball Players’ Association chief Kathryn Harby-Williams said the decisions were important measures to protect both players and the sustainability of the condensed 2020 season.
“Front and centre right now is managing the wellbeing and physical load of our athletes given the unusual preseason they have had leading into this condensed season. We appreciate the league considering the feedback from all stakeholders, including the players, to inform their decision making,” she said.
This was supported by Netball Australia Chief Medical Officer, Dr Susan White who said, “It’s crucial that, as a league, we made these changes to support the health and safety of our athletes in an unusual and condensed season format.”
According to West Coast Fever Strength and Conditioning coach, Liam Warwick, these rule changes will give coaches greater flexibility to control the workload of each athlete.
“The implications of COVID-19 on an interrupted pre-season and condensed fixture may lead to an increase in athlete injury rates. The current fixture is unprecedented in Suncorp Super Netball, and it will be fascinating to see how each team structures their training and game-day approach with rules such as the rolling sub to maximise their performance throughout the length of the season."
The Suncorp Super Netball seasons starts on Saturday when the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning clash at Nissan Arena in Brisbane. The derby is the first match in a condensed fixture that will see teams from across the country play rounds 1-6 in Queensland and New South Wales before a second phase which will be announced in coming weeks.