Netball is a very popular and active sport, fantastic for developing teamwork skills, as well as improving hand-eye coordination and physical form. Plus, it can be great fun which in turn benefits mental health too. It’s no wonder why a game of netball is a firm favourite for primary schools.
Historically, the sport has been played predominantly by girls or women, but men and boys can certainly play too. It is unquestionably one of the most engaging and fun sports you could participate in on any playground. So, with that, let’s look at how to play netball!
How to set up your netball game
Netball is played on a rectangular court with two elevated rings, each located at the far ends of the netball court and serving as the goals. Two lines split the court into three equal sections and a circle marks the middle of the netball court where the centre passes are made. Within the goal third, there are also goal circles, otherwise known as semi-circles or Ds, where only two of the attacking and two defending players are allowed to enter.
No set up time is required when you’ve got thermoplastic netball court markings on your playground – you can get straight to playing!
Additionally, netball positions play a very big role in how the game is played, as they determine the actions and the zones in which certain players can occupy on the court. In netball there are 7 positions, which include:
Goalkeeper (GK) – the last line of defence in a team and one of the two positions allowed into their own goal circle. They can only play and move in the defensive third of their team.
Goal Defence (GD) – this player is allowed to play in both defensive and the centre thirds of their team, but not in the attacking third of the netball court. They are the only other players that can enter their own goal circle.
Wing Defence (WD) – wing defenders can play in both the defensive and centre thirds, however, cannot enter their goal circle.
Centre (C) – the centre players handle all centre passes from the centre circle. They are the only position allowed to play in all three thirds of the court, except the goal circles of both teams.
Wing Attack (WA) – they can play only in the centre or attacking zone but cannot enter the goal circle of their opponents.
Goal Attack (GA) – this position can play either in the centre or the attacking third of the netball court and is allowed to enter the goal circle along with the goal shooter.
Goal Shooter (GS) – goal shooters can only play in the attacking zone and can enter the opposing team’s goal circle.
Official netball matches are played with two teams of 7 players on court and 5 substitutes. When you are playing with your friends though, you could easily make smaller teams, make matches shorter or even play on a single goal. Additionally, you will need a netball ball or another similar one – they are slightly smaller than basketballs.
What is the objective of netball?
The aim of a netball game is to pass the ball around, only by hand, with the intention of throwing it into the ring of your opponents, scoring more shots than the other team. Each goal is worth one point and can only be scored by either the goal shooter (GS) or the goal attack (GA).
A netball match consists of 4 quarters, each 15 minutes in length, amounting to 60 minutes of total play time. Extra time of two halves by 7 minutes is played whenever a tie must be broken. If the game is still a draw at the end of the extra time, the match continues until one team gains a 2-goal lead to become the winner.
How to play netball
Once it is decided who will have possession of the ball, with a coin toss, the game starts with a centre pass from the centre circle, with the person who is making the pass standing inside of the circle alone, passing towards another player who is also in the centre third.
Teams take turns on the centre pass from the centre circle when the game restarts every quarter. A team starts with a centre pass every time they concede a goal, too. With the ball in play now, here are the rules you should know:
Once the player receives the ball, they can either shoot, pivot, or pass towards another player. While holding the ball, players can’t take more than 3 seconds before passing, shooting, or pivoting. They can also take no more than one step while holding the ball, but they can freely pivot as it does not count as a step.
If a player who is not allowed into a certain zone receives the ball there, an offside is called and the opposing team receives a free pass. Attackers also cannot run into defenders who have established their position, or they risk fouling them.
A ball can be contested only once it has been thrown. If a defender pulls, slaps, or blocks the ball while it is in the attacker’s hands, the attacker can receive a penalty pass or shot. Players need to keep about a metre away from the attacker while marking them.
Players cannot pass from their defending zone to the attacking zone (skipping centre third) or restart the game by passing the ball to a player in a different zone, from the one the game is being restarted from.
Whenever the ball goes outside of the netball court markings, a throw-in is awarded against the team who played with the ball last.
Now you know how to play netball, you are ready to explain the basics of netball to your friends, class, or even pupils, and join in on the fun that netball is!