Equipment

Mighty Netball Size 3 Netballs

Here at Mighty Netball, we are proud to offer equipment that is appropriate for the age and size of your child. We believe we are the only UK provider of size 3 netballs which we use for ages 3 to 7. We then use size 4 netballs for ages 8-11. Age 11+ will use a size 5 netball. 

We feel so strongly about the importance of appropriate equipment for your netballer, that we designed and imported these bespoke size 3 netballs after we exhausted the small UK supply that existed when we first launched in 2017. We are delighted to say we now use these custom Mighty Netballs for our Preschool, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classes. Not only are they the most suitable size and weight for little hands, but they are bright and fun colours which the children can really engage with! We are already being approached by schools and clubs who wish to use our balls in their sessions too. The balls are available on our website for you to purchase for home use too. 

Most netball providers will only use size 5 netballs. A size 5 netball measures 71 cm in circumference and weighs 450 grams (source 2). Our size 3s measure 60 cm in circumference and weigh 370 grams. This means a size 5 is 15% larger in circumference and 18% larger in weight than the size 3. To put this into perspective and try to imagine how it feels for the child using the larger equipment; as an adult it would mean using a ball which is still a further 10% bigger than a basketball (which is a size 7) so more like a beach ball. The weight at 18% larger would equate to a ball weighing nearly 550 grams, getting into medicine ball territory! These numbers really go to show how important it is we provide the children with appropriately sized equipment. 

It’s important to consider that children are not simply ‘small adults’, their musculoskeletal system continues to grow and develop up to 18 years of age, for some it is even longer! There are growth plates that are active in all bones during the growing years. The growth plates in bones are active at different times of children’s development, making them susceptible to sports related injuries at various stages of childhood. By providing children with appropriately sized and weighted equipment, we can reduce the risk of injuries to bone, tendon, muscle and ligaments. 

There are many benefits to scaled sports equipment which are backed up by extensive research. Scaling sports equipment to match the physical development of children allows motor skills to be performed with greater success. Children’s skill acquisition could be hindered and potentially regress when using inappropriately sized equipment (source 1). 

Studies revealed that children preferred using scaled equipment over adult equipment, were more engaged in the task and had greater self-efficacy to execute skills. Children also acquired skills faster in such conditions, seven year-old girls were reported to perform better with lightweight equipment than heavyweight equipment during an assessment of skill. Children caught the smaller ball with a more mature style than the larger balls (source 1). 

It is commonplace to see scaled sports equipment in other sports. Consider plastic bats and lightweight balls in cricket, children don’t begin with the traditional hard balls until age 11. In football, the FA recommend the following ball sizes: size 3 football for under 7 to under 9 age groups, size 4 football for under 10 to under 14s and full size (5) from under 14s and older. In tennis, the rackets and balls are scaled for ages 8 and under, 8-9, 9-10 and 10+, showing the importance of appropriate size and weight of equipment. We wouldn’t give a six year old an adult’s tennis racket so why is the use of adult equipment widely accepted within netball? The honest answer to this is likely to be a lack of funding and therefore not enough research and development. These are just three examples of sports who have modified their game, there are many more. 

Here at Mighty Netball, we also modify netball post height according to the age group. A recent study of children attempting shooting in basketball explained how beneficial this can be. The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of modification of basketball size and basket height on shooting performance and self-efficacy of girls and boys 9 to 12 years of age. Shooting conditions were a combination of basketball size and basket height. The children made more baskets and had higher shooting scores at the 8-ft basket than the 10-ft basket. This was especially evident for girls and 9- and 10-year-old children. Self-efficacy was highest when children shot at the 8-ft basket. These results indicated that basket height modification can positively influence children’s shooting performance and self-efficacy (source 3). Self efficacy is so important in children’s sports as not only will this help with their enjoyment, but has many other mental health benefits across other areas of life. 

We are proud to have invested in bespoke equipment for our Mighty Netballers. We look forward to hearing how much they enjoy using the new size 3 netballs!

Laura Vila, Co Founder of Mighty Netball. 

Laura is a qualified Sports Therapist  BSc Hons MSST with over 10 years clinical and sports experience. She has treated many young athletes and is passionate about Mighty providing appropriate equipment to give children the best start to their sporting journey. 

Sources:

Source 1: Scaling the Equipment and Play Area in Children’s Sport to Improve Motor Skill Acquisition: A Systematic Review. Tim Buszard, Machar Reid, Rich Masters and Damian Farrow. Sports Medicine volume 46, pages 829-843 (January 2016)

Source 2https://netball.sport/game/facilities-and-equipment

Source 3: The Effects of Equipment Modification on Children’s Self-I and Basketball Shooting Performance. Melissa A. Chase MA,Martha E. Ewing,Cathy D. Lirgg &Thomas R. George Pages 159-168 | Accepted 29 Jan 1994, Published online: 08 Feb 2013

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