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Super Netball introduce rule changes after concerns over player welfare

Super Netball has dealt with the concerns linked with an increased risk of injury throughout the condensed season by incorporating temporary changes to the rules, which include the introduction of an extended bench.

The 2020 season was delayed due to the Covid-19 lockdown and is now finally back underway with a frantic six-week period scheduled, which in the most part will be played in Queensland due to the resurgence of coronavirus in other regions.

The busy fixture list requires some teams to prepare for games just three days after their last, leading to fears of injuries and burnouts amongst the players. The players’ association made calls to allow for an extended bench to be able to rotate more players.

With players’ welfare being of paramount importance, possibly now more so than ever, it has been permitted that the number of players in a squad will be increased from 10 to 12. There will be 10 full squad members and two additional players.

The bonus point system will be deferred for the 2020 season and the introduction of extra-time will also be postponed. These rule changes were made in consultation not just with players and clubs but medical experts too.

The Super Netball’s bonus point system has in the past seen certain players stay on the court for longer periods in search of trying to win a quarter. Removing this incentive is hoped to make players feel less pressure to do so and come off the court when ready. The decision on extra-time was made to reduce the chances of a potential injury as well as to avoid burnout for those players who have had an interrupted pre-season. Super Netball CEO, Chris Symington, spoke about why the initiatives were designed to protect player health and welfare.

“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.” Australian Netball Players’ Association chief Kathryn Harby-Williams, said the decisions were important to protect the 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.”

The second phase of fixtures after the initial six-week period have not had confirmed starting dates yet.

Author: Jake Wilkin