Netball is a ball sport played by two teams of seven players. Its development, derived from early versions of basketball, began in England in the 1890s. By 1960, international playing rules had been standardised for the game, and the International Federation of Netball and Women’s Basketball (later renamed the International Netball Federation (INF)) was formed. As of 2011, the INF comprises more than 60 national teams organized into five global regions.
Games are played on a rectangular court with raised goal rings at each end. Each team attempts to score goals by passing a ball down the court and shooting it through its goal ring. Players are assigned specific positions, which define their roles within the team and restrict their movement to certain areas of the court. During general play, a player with the ball can hold on to it for only three seconds before shooting for a goal or passing to another player. The winning team is the one that scores the most goals. Netball games are 60 minutes long. Variations have been developed to increase the game’s pace and appeal to a wider audience.
Netball is most popular in Commonwealth nations, specifically in schools, and is predominantly played by women. According to the INF, netball is played by more than 20 million people in more than 80 countries.Major transnational competitions take place, including the Netball Superleague in Great Britain and the ANZ Championship in Australia and New Zealand. Three major competitions take place internationally: the quadrennial World Netball Championships, the Commonwealth Games, and the yearly World Netball Series. In 1995, netball became an International Olympic Committee recognised sport, but it has not been played at the Olympics.
Basic Rules of Netball
The objective of a netball team is to score more goals than the opposition. A goal is scored through a successful shot into the opponents hoop. The team which scores the most goals wins the match!
Games are split into 4 quarters, each lasting 15 minutes.
Netball is played on a court (either hard or soft) which is 30.5 metres in length and 15.25 metres wide. There is a post at either end of the court, with a hoop positioned 3.05 metres off the ground. The court is split into areas, with players only being permitted to enter particular zones depending on their position.
The ‘netball’ itself is similar to a ‘basketball’, however typically they are white and weigh considerably less.
A netball team is made up of 7 players. Each player has a nominated position and role, and may only be permitted into certain areas of the court. If a player enters a zone which they are restricted from then they are deemed ‘offside’.
The positions in a netball team are as follows:
• GS – Goal Shooter – Can move anywhere within the attacking third of the court, but cannot leave it.
• GA – Goal Attack – Can move anywhere within the attacking third and the centre third of the court.
• WA– Wing Attack – Can move within the attacking third and centre third, with the exception of the shooting circle.
• C – Centre – Can move anywhere across the court, apart from either of the shooting circles.
• WD – Wing Defence – Can move within the centre third and the defensive third, with the exception of the shooting circle.
• GD – Goal Defence – Can move anywhere within the attacking third and the centre third of the court.
• GK – Goal Keeper – Can move anywhere within the defensive third of the court, but cannot leave it.
Only the ‘Goal Shooter’ and ‘Goal Attack’ of a team are allowed to score directly, and can only do so when they are in the oppositions goal circle.
Footwork & Contact Rules
The rules regarding footwork in netball are particularly specific and important.
Firstly, a player cannot let their landing foot touch the floor again if they lift it away from the ground at all while in possession of the ball. Thus it is often said that a player can only take 1.5 steps while holding the ball. They can however still balance on the other foot even if landing leg is lifted.
A player may also only hold onto the ball for 3 seconds at a time. The combination of these rules makes for a fast game, wherby the only way of transporting the ball towards the oppositions goal is through passing.
Netball also has strict rules regarding contact. Contact is prohibited where it impedes with an opponent or game play. A player must also always be at least 3 feet away from an opponent with the ball when defending. If impeding contact is made then a penalty is awarded.