Introduction To Netball

By Sharelle Williams

Netball is a popular participant sport that has over 20 million people play in more than 70 countries. The International Federation Netball Association (IFNA) member nations are divided into five regional groups: Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. In 1995, Netball became a “recognised” Olympic sport and a strong push is underway for its inclusion in the Olympic Games Program.

Netball is a fast, exciting, true team sport which involves running, jumping, throwing and catching. The sport is similar to netball to basketball although the rules, equipment and team numbers are differ in a number of ways. For example no dribbling the ball, no running once you have caught the ball, 7 players on each team are allowed to take the court, the ball must be passed within 3 seconds, the ball and hoop of the ring are slightly smaller, there is no backboard, and players positions are designated to certain areas of the court. Netball also is renowned for having similarities to European handball, korfball and ultimate frisbee.

So why play Netball? Netball is an all-inclusive sport that can be played by females and males of all ages, and a wide range of positions allows for different skill levels. The sport is cost efficient and minimal equipment is required. There are different levels of netball played whether it is competitive or non-competitive but in a non-aggressive environment. Like a true team sport as netball is the ball must be passed from one player to another in order to move the ball down the court. It is also a way for players to grow self-esteem and confidence which is built through team work, and players owning their own ‘position’ on court. The 7 positions on court are Goal Shooter (GS), Goal Attack (GA), Wing Attack (WA), Centre (C ), Wing Defence (WD), Goal Defence (GD) and Goal Keeper (GK).

The rules of the game are:

  • A team may consist of up to 12 players, however only 7 may take the court at any one time.
  • Netball games are 60 minutes long, four 15 minute quarters with 3-5 minute intervals. However variations have been developed to increase the game’s pace and appeal to a wider audience such at Fast 5 Netball.
  • Each player has a designated playing area.
  • Female netball players usually wear skirts or dresses to play the game.
  • A netball court measures 100 inches long and 50 inches wide.
  • The netball posts stand at 10 feet tall, where the goal ring is 0.38m.
  • Netball is a non-contact sport where any infringement occurs a penalty will be awarded to the opposing team.
  • Only 2 designated players are able to shoot a goal, The Goal Shooter (GS) and Goal Attack (GA).
  • Each goal is worth 1 point and has to be shot from inside the goal circle.
  • The winning team is the one that scores the most goals.

Across the world there are two major domestic competitions that are the ANZ Championship, played in Australia and New Zealand, and England’s Netball Superleague. The Netball Superleague combines the finest players in the UK along with international stars, forming 8 Superleague franchises from England and Wales. The eight franchises participate in seven rounds, then after those eight are split into two tiers, the top four in Tier1 and the bottom four in Tier 2, with each side playing their three rivals home and away. An eliminator will then put bottom of Tier 1 against top of Tier 2 to decide the semi-finalists to which as all roads lead to the Superleague Showdown FINAL!