Ankle Taping vs Ankle Guards: Choosing the Right Injury Prevention for Netball

Netball is a fast-paced and dynamic sport which demands agility, precision, and speed from its players. With its quick changes in direction and frequent jumps, the risk of ankle injuries is ever-present. Ankle sprains are the most commonly reported injury in netball.

  • Approximately four in five netball athletes will sustain an ankle sprain, up to half will go on to sustain recurrent ankle sprains, and nine in ten report perceived ankle instability (Rowe et al 2021). To mitigate this risk, or to help return to play after an injury, players often turn to ankle taping and ankle guards. While both methods aim to provide support and prevent injury, they differ in their application, effectiveness, and convenience.
  • Ankle taping involves wrapping the ankle with rigid adhesive tape (with or without underwrap) to provide support and stability. The tape is applied in a specific pattern to restrict excessive movement in certain directions, while still allowing for flexibility. One of the main benefits of ankle taping is that it offers customizable support. The tension of the tape, specific taping techniques and direction of support can be adjusted based on individual needs, ankle instability and pre-existing injuries. Additionally the compression provided by taping can enhance proprioception, the body’s awareness of its position in space, thereby reducing the risk of injury.
  • Ankle guards are prefabricated devices designed to support the ankle joint. These braces typically feature a combination of lacing, Velcro straps and rigid supports that wrap around the ankle, providing external stability. Unlike taping, ankle guards are reusable and have some level of tension customisation. One of the biggest benefits of ankle guards is their convenience and durability, as they do not require the expertise or time needed for proper taping. Ankle guards are, however, more bulky than taping, and may require extra shoe size allowance in order to be worn comfortably.

One key difference between ankle taping and ankle guards lies in their application and removal process. Ankle taping requires skill and practice to apply correctly, often necessitating the assistance of a trained professional. Furthermore, the adhesive nature of the tape can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. In contrast, ankle guards can be easily put on and taken off by the wearer, making them a more accessible option for athletes of all skill levels.

Another factor to consider is the cost-effectiveness of each method.

While ankle taping may initially seem more affordable, the recurring expenses of purchasing tape can add up over time. Conversely, ankle guards represent a one-time investment that can last multiple seasons with proper care and maintenance.

In terms of effectiveness, there is strong research evidence that both taping and bracing reduce the rate of ankle sprains. Ultimately, the choice between ankle taping and ankle guard braces for netball injury prevention boils down to personal preference, comfort, and individual needs. Some players may prefer the customizable support offered by ankle taping, while others may opt for the convenience and durability of ankle guards. Our clinics can assist with fitting of braces as well as taping education.

Regardless of the chosen method, prioritizing ankle injury prevention is essential for maintaining peak performance and enjoying the game of netball to its fullest. Many netballers who sprain their ankles do not seek appropriate treatment, and will return to play too quickly, leading to increased risk of subsequent injury, which can lead to chronic ankle instability. Physiotherapists are well trained in assessment of injury severity, graded strength and conditioning programs and return to play assessment.

Structured strength and conditioning programs, such as the Netball KNEE program can be extremely valuable additions to regular netball training sessions and pre-game warmups to assist with injury prevention.

Please get in touch with any of our clinics if you have any questions about injury prevention, rehabilitation or return to play.


Rowe PL, Bryant AL, Paterson KL. Current ankle sprain prevention and management strategies of netball athletes: a scoping review of the literature and comparison with best-practice recommendations. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 2021 Sep 18;13(1):113. doi: 10.1186/s13102-021-00342-9. PMID: 34537083; PMCID: PMC8449445.