Are you interested in playing netball? Maybe you’re considering signing up for your school or university team, or perhaps you’re just looking for a different kind of exercise to get into. Either way, netball is a fun, fast-paced and energetic sport that is ideal for men and women of any age. To get into it you should try to pick up as much information as you can. Go and watch a game or a training session — alternatively, check what’s on TV as Sky recently signed a deal to broadcast England netball matches.
In the meantime, this article will take a look at the basics of netball to try to provide you with as much information as possible.
A quick history
After basketball was invented by Canadian doctor James Naismith in 1891, it wasn’t long before the game had spread across the world. During the early years of basketball, a number of different versions of the game had sprung up, including variations known as ‘women’s outdoor basketball’. It was this sport that eventually evolved into netball. In fact, up until the 1960s netball was still known as ‘women’s basketball’ in Australia.
It spread through the school system quickly, but had trouble attracting success as a sport for adults. It wasn’t until 1938 that an international netball match was played, when Australia defeated New Zealand. And even then it took until 1960 for the rules to be standardised for international competition. Interestingly, while netball caught on quickly in Commonwealth countries — it is especially popular in the UK — it has never really been a success in the US.
A glance at the rules
Similar to basketball in certain respects and completely different in others, the object of netball is to score more goals than the opposing team. Teams consist of seven players on the court at one time and each player has a distinct and specific position. The court is broken down into thirds: two goal thirds at either end of the court, each containing a goal circle, and a centre third. The roles dictate where on the court players are allowed to move. Standard games are played in four quarters which last 15 minutes each.
Netball is a non-contact sport in the sense that players are not allowed to deliberately or accidentally come into contact with another player in a way that affects their play. Defenders must stand three feet away from the player with the ball. Unlike basketball, players are not allowed to move while they have the ball.
You can try various positions
If you’re thinking about giving netball a go but you’re not sure about which position you’re best suited to — don’t worry. At most levels of netball it is common for players to experiment with different positions. It’s only when training for competitive games that most players stick within their set roles.
The positions are as follows:
- Goal Shooter — abbreviated to GS: they are allowed to play in their attacking third and goal circle, but nowhere else. Their main role is to shoot and score goals
- Goal Attack — abbreviated to GA: they are allowed to play in the centre third, their attacking third and the goal circle only. Their main role is to set up goals, but they can also shoot and score
- Wing Attack — abbreviated to WA: they are allowed in the centre third and their attacking third. They need to be skilled in passing and playmaking for the GA and GS
- Centre — abbreviated to C: they are allowed to move throughout the court apart from in the goal circles. They are the only position on the court that helps both in defence and attack
- Wing Defence — abbreviated to WD: they are allowed in their defensive third and the centre third. They are attempting to stop the ball for reaching their defensive goal circle
- Goal Defence — abbreviated to GD: they are allowed in the centre third, the defensive third and the defensive goal circle. Their main role is usually to defend the opposing GA
- Goal keeper — abbreviated to GK: they are allowed in the goal circle and defensive third only. Their role is usually to defend the GS
It’s not just for girls
One common misconception about netball is that it is exclusively a sport for women and girls. This isn’t the case at all. It is simply because of the early association with women that it is more popular with females than males. Men are still welcome to play, and women’s teams may be happy for men to play too.
The benefits of playing netball
Netball has a range of benefits. Firstly, it is a team game that involves a great deal of working with others. Teams usually build up a great camaraderie — it’s a very social game. Of course, equally this is a very active form of exercise that works out your whole body.
According to netball surfacing specialist, Sovereign Sports it can be easier on the joints to play on synthetic grass surfaces. So if you’re interested in a less high-impact option, it could be smart to choose outdoor netball played on a softer surface, rather than indoor netball on a hard court.