What is netball? What are the rules and regulations of the sport?

What is netball? What are the rules and regulations of the sport?

Every game has its own set of rules and regulations, which often enhance and ensure the smooth running of the entire team. Netball is no exception, as it has rules and regulations that each player should follow. Netball is almost like basketball but has key differences.

Can men play netball?
Ameliaranne Ekenasio of New Zealand the final match against Australia and New Zealand at Cape Town International Convention Centre on 25 January 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Grant Pitcher
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Exactly what is netball? It is a ball sport, played on a court by two teams of seven players. It is among a rare number of sports in the world which have been created exclusively for female competitors.

History of netball

Everything has history, be it particular sports, institutions, people, and places in general. In this case, has had people wondering where exactly where netball originates from. Allegedly, the sport emerged from a misinterpretation of the early basketball rules by a sports teacher living in New Orleans, Clara Baer.

It has incredible similarities with basketball, but there is no dribbling. Additionally, the rules, equipment, and the number of participants also vary. But the question, rather, is when exactly was the sport invented?

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When was netball invented?

Following basketball's popularity at that time, women formed the sport as the men played the other sport. After a while, they had their first game, in 1895, after its invention in 1890. It was played at Madame Ostenburg's College, England.

How many players are in each netball team?
Helen Housby of the Swifts shoots during the round 12 match between Collingwood Magpies and NSW Swifts at John Cain Arena on 28 May 2022, in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Kelly Defina
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After 70 years of playing and practising the sport, the International Federation of Women's Basketball and Netball was formed in 1960 so that the two sports would have a governing body. It was only a matter of time before the sport was recognised in 1985 by the International Olympic Committee.

Today, the sport has become a popular women's sport, especially in countries where it was first introduced.

What are the basic rules of netball?

Even though the sport is quite similar to basketball, some of the rules expected to be implemented are incredibly intriguing. According to in depth analysis, here are some basic rules and key tactics for learning how to play the game like a pro. This is a summarised regulation listing rules that control and govern the popular indoor court game, netball:

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Squad and team players

Of course, what is a game without a potential squad? A full squad should have seven playing positions on the court.

When was netball invented?
Reilley Batcheldor of Fever tries to shoot during the round nine match against Sunshine Coast Lightning on 14 May 2022, in Sunshine Coast, Australia. Photo: Regi Varghese
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Netball equipment

All team players are expected to wear appropriate gear, including colour-coded bibs. Moreover, participants should never play without proper indoor running shoes or court footwear.

Starting play

And while in most sports, where there is always a mutual agreement on which team to start, netball is quite different, as a coin toss determines the first centre pass. After the tossing is complete, the opposing centre is always free to move but only after the whistle is blown.

Court zone rules

One important rule while in a court is to always remain within it at all times for as long as the game is on. Here are some terminologies used to display a broken rule during a match.

  • Over a third - One is not to allowed to throw a ball over two transverse lines without an interception.
  • Out of court - This mostly occurs when a ball hits anything outside the court.
  • Offside - This occurs when one moves out of their area, either with or without a ball.

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Rules of general play

All participants should play the ball to a teammate or shoot for a goal within three seconds. Consequently, it allows a single ball-bounce to gain control of it.

Basic rules of netball
Liz Watson of the Vixens in action during the round two match against Sydney Swifts at Ken Rosewall Arena on 2 April 2022 in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Jason McCawley
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One can receive the ball on one or two feet, but hopping or dragging the landing foot is not permitted. This way, a player can move not more than 1.5 steps holding the ball.


Only the goal shooter or attacker is allowed to shoot the ball while inside the goal circle to score.

Regulations on the ball

  • Opponents should stand 3 feet away from the person with it, especially while defending.
  • One is not allowed to hold it for more than 3 seconds.
  • A player should not grab or hit it out of another player's hands.
  • One is not allowed to travel with it.

Basic rules of officials

Every sport possesses a board of management which is responsible for making sure that each player is receiving a conducive environment to play. Here are some rules the sport's umpire ought to observe.

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  • They have to ensure that the players are in the correct and appropriate uniforms.
  • They are required to inspect each player for long nails or sharp jewellery such as rings and bracelets.
  • The umpire is always expected to complete a pre-game inspection.
What is netball?
Izette Griesel of South Africa in action during the preliminaries stage two schedule match against Uganda at M&S Bank Arena on 17 July 2019 in Liverpool, England. Photo: Nathan Stirk
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  • Check if scorecards have been fully completed.
  • Inspect the court and goalpost dimensions.

How many players are in each netball team?

In the sport, any particular team always comprises ten players. However, only a maximum of seven are expected to always be on the court at any given time. The other persons allowed are up to five officials, one of whom should be a medical expert in field injury or physiotherapy.

How many minutes are allowed in a netball game?

A complete game always lasts for 60 minutes. However, several variations have been developed to increase the game's pace and appeal so as to attract wider audiences. Only 2 minutes are allowed before the game proceeds in case of a mild injury.

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Can men play netball?

Men can play netball. However, the sport's federation has not yet included them internationally.

There are many who do not know what netball is. Learn what the game entails here. Once you learn about the basics of the sport, it becomes easier to play it, watch it, or even teach. It is quite an indulging sport that anticipates men's participation soon.

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Sports Brief has recently published an article about Lacrosse detailing its rules and regulations. Lacrosse is popular in some regions of the world and is played by both genders according to age groups, and different ages have different lacrosse rules and regulations. Check out the link above and learn more about the sport and its basic rules and regulations.

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Source: Sports Brief News