Do the feet of male and female netball players differ in shape? Implications for shoe design

Maddison M. Kirk, Jessica A. Dobson, Joshua P.M. Mattock, Celeste E. Coltman, Julie R. Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A large proportion of netball players suffer foot-related problems and pain and are dissatisfied with current netball-specific footwear. To improve the fit and functionality of netball-specific shoes, we must understand the shape of these players’ feet and determine whether any sex differences exist. Five hundred and two representative-level netball players (n = 251 male; n = 251 female) had their feet three-dimensionally scanned. We then used a validated MATLAB code to automatically extract 10 measurements to characterise each participant’s foot shape. Differences between men and women for the absolute values and those normalised to foot length and stature were identified using independent samples t-tests with a Bonferroni adjusted alpha level. The size and shape of male netball players’ feet differed significantly from their female counterparts. Males had significantly larger absolute and normalised foot measurements than females, notably at the ball of the foot, heel and instep (p < 0.001). Netball shoe manufacturers should develop unique lasts for each sex and foot size and should offer a more extensive range of shoe lengths and widths to netball players. Such considerations will help optimise shoe fit and comfort and, in turn, reduce foot-related problems and pain associated with ill-fitting footwear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Apr 2024


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