Netball Rules | Netball Positions, Court, Skills & Players Guide 2021

Last Updated on April 28, 2021 by admin

Netball is the sport of wonder and excitement. This popular game carries a rich history & detailed rules & regulations to play with fun and freedom. The following Netball Players Guide brings you the best Netball rules, Court, playing skills, Netball Positions, Skills & Netball vs Basketball comparison.

Scroll down for a wonderful study of the rules of netball game.

Netball Rules | Netball Positions, Dimension & Court Marking, Netball Skills & Sport Comparison

Netball is a sister-game of basketball. It is a fast-paced, dynamic and non-contact game. Netball is predominantly, not only, played by women, usually on an indoor court.

Each side comprises seven players. In this game, goals are scored by throwing and passing a ball among teammates, and ultimately shooting it so that it falls through a net (fixed on a ten-feet horizontal metal hoop), installed on opponent’s side.

History in Brief

Netball emerged in England in the 1890s. Initially, it had close resemblance with basketball as it originated as primitive variant of basketball with, more or less, similar rules. This game continued its journey, with those vague rules, until 1960s, when this game acquired proper rules and regulations.

Those rules, ultimately, separated netball with basketball. Netball has its own international governing body “International Federation of Netball Associations” with over 60 member teams playing in different regions around the globe.

Object of the Game

The primary objective of the game is to score more goals than your opponent team. This objective is met by shooting ball into the opponent’s net (fixed on a 10 foot high post on each side).

Duration of Game

Netball game continues for 60 minutes. This 60 minutes duration is further divided into four quarters of 15 minutes. There is a four minute respite after first and third quarters, while, eight to twelve minute interval is observed during half-time (after second quarter).

In case an unfortunate event such as; an injury takes place, umpires allot as much as two minutes for this untoward event to be sort out.

Players & Equipment

For playing netball game, what you need is;

  • Two teams of 7 players with regulation uniform
  • One rectangular court and a Ball
  • 2 ten feet netball posts and 2 umpires.

That’s it! and You go Playing

Rules & Regulations of Netball

Following are the major rules of Netball in brief.

1. Starting the Match

(Match starts with the center pass)

  • A netball match formally starts with the toss between two captains.
  • The toss winning team gains the first center pass.
  • A center pass is played while being inside the center third.

The same process is repeated after every goal and completion of every quarter. After completion of each quarter, both teams have to shift their attacking ends.

2. Footwork of Players

It is footwork that separates netball from basketball. Remember! You have to be cautious while shifting your feet. In netball, it is not admissible to change your position with the ball.

Your landing foot should stay grounded while you catch the ball, but you may move your second grounded foot. This is called pivoting. Your landing foot can be lifted off the ground but you should release the ball before grounding it for a second time.

3. Contact between Players

Physical contact is not permissible either;

  • A player whether intentionally or unintentionally shouldn’t touch another player in a way, that hinders his play
  • Charging, pushing, throwing and tripping his body against an opponent or using the ball to push or contact an opponent is not legal.
  • A player should not grab his opponent, thrust him or keep his elbows against his opponents.

4. Obstruction on the Court

The player that is attempting to defend another player with the ball, should not be nearer than three feet from the player’s first grounded foot. The defender must defend from in front, to the side, or behind a player with the ball. Note: Players have to defend from on court.

5. Holding the Ball for three Seconds

A player, after receiving the ball, is allowed to hold the ball only for 3 seconds. It means, he has to release it instantly after he has received it.

Holding it for more than 3 seconds will result in a whistle by the umpire that will allow your opponent side to have a free pass.

6. Scoring in Netball

In netball a goal is equivalent to a point;

  • A goal is scored when a goal shooter or goal attack manage to pass the ball through a ring (netball post) of opponent side, in the goal third.
  • While attempting their moves to shoot the goals, both GS and GA have to be within the goal circle that surrounds netball posts.

How to Win the Netball Game?

Generally speaking, for winning the game a team has to outscore its opponents. Same rule applies to the netball. Here, players shift the ball back and forth among teammates on the court in an attempt to score goals, by managing the ball to pass through the ring (fixed on a ten foot high mental hoop) on opponents’ side.

While attempting their moves to shoot the goals, both GS and GA have to be within the goal circle that surrounds netball posts. If an umpire finds them violating the rules, he may impose penalty on them.

Note: at the end of the match (after four quarters of 15 minutes each), the team with more goals, wins the game.

7. Umpires in Netball

  • Two umpires monitor the whole course of the game in netball.
  • Each umpire has to control one side of the court.
  • They rule both sides of the court with their whistles
  • In case they find any player violating the laws of the game, they can stop that player or even the game.

8. Netball Penalties (Infringements)

Infringement means to violate the defined rules of the game. When umpires blow the whistle, it signalizes that a player has broken the rule. As a result of infringement, a free pass is awarded to the opposite team.

The player who causes the penalty has to stand outside, till the ball is replayed. The sound of whistle is suggestive of the obstruction or physical contact that occurs in the shooting circle. This could be as soon as these violations are caused the ball gets turned over to the opposite team as penalty.

Let’s look at some infringements:

  • Physical contact is not allowed between players while they are playing game on the court.
  • There has to be at least 3 feet distance between the defenders and the player holding the ball.
  • Defenders can only grab the ball when it’s thrown in the air.
  • Defenders cannot try to knock the ball out of their opponent’s hands.
  • Intentional or unintentional contact between players results in a penalty.
  • Hindrance or obstruction of any sort also causes a penalty.
  • Ball has to be controlled by using hands.
  • Dribbling or running with the ball is not permissible.
  • Unlike basketball, movement with the ball is not allowed in netball.

9. Netball Positions

Positions are of vital importance in netball. Each player has to wear a designated uniform containing two abbreviated letters which correspond to initial letters of the roles/position he is to play in the game. These positions will determine where the players should be on the court, and where they may operate.


  • Each position is assigned to only one player.
  • It means a goal shooter can’t operate like a center.

Let’s have glance at these positions separately:

1). Hardest Position in Netball?

Supposedly, goalkeeper is the one, who faces frequent attacks from his opponents.

2). Least Important Position in Netball

Almost every position is important in netball. Wing Defense is thought to be the least important position when it comes to scoring the goal. Scoring goals is the providence of goal shooter and goal attack.

3). Most important Position in Netball

Goal shooter and goal attack are two equally important positions in netball. Both these positions are responsible for scoring goals for the team.

10. Netball Rules Sending off

As per new sent off rules;

  • An umpire can expel any player that continues to display unwanted behavior on the court.
  • The umpire has been provided with cards and can use them as he deems appropriate.

There are three levels to warn the offending player

Firstly, the offender is given a verbal warning, as it happens in most of the games, to mend his behavior immediately. Secondly, if the behavior continues to be the same, the player is served with second warning and also removed from court for period of 2 to 4 goals, as the umpire deems it suitable. After defined number of goals, the offender can take his place once again.

Thirdly, if the the offender has not improved his misconduct after two warnings, a third verbal warning is served to him with his expulsion from the court for the remainder of the match.

After third warning, the offender has to leave the court till the match ends, and he has to submit a report to the officials for his misdemeanor.

Note: There is no substitution or replacement rule in netball

11. Netball Rules to Prevent Injury

Unlike football and basketball, netball is mildly risky. Nevertheless, every player has to observe some needful precautions for being on the safe side while playing it.

  • You should play fair and safe. It will reduce the risk of collision between players.
  • You should better your coordination with your teammates so as to avoid confusion while passing or receiving the ball.
  • Take some necessary rest during breaks.
  • Protect your knees with TLC, strengthen your ankles for playing the game effectively.
  • You should not unnecessarily jump or move in an awkward way. It might result in hamstring or cramps.
  • Take energizing drinks and liquid during breaks.

12. Netball Rules of Passing, Receiving or Holding the Ball

Passing and receiving the ball in netball is a key component. A player can hold the ball for maximum 3 seconds.  He has to release the ball in due time and pass it to his teammates by observing footwork rules mentioned above.

A Player should observe some basic rules of passing the ball.

Firstly, the short pass rule, which says that there has to be some room for a third player to operate between the hands of the passer and those of a recipient, at the time of ball passing. Secondly, there is another restriction on how far and high one may throw a pass.

You can throw a pass across the full weight of the course, but when the ball is passed down court, it must not pass ever more than one transverse line. It means the ball must not be thrown from one player to another in a way that it goes from one third to the last third.

It has to be passed by players in the center. Thirdly, if its not passed by players in the center, at least it should be touched by a player in the center.

13. Netball landing and Jumping Rules

Jumping and landing go hand in hand. This rule is also important as others.

  • When players get the ball, they must have one foot on ground.
  • If they jump to catch the ball, they should land with one foot and then they can move their other food in any direction.
  • They have to be cautious while shifting your feet.
  • In netball, it is not admissible to change your position with the ball.
  • Your landing foot should stay grounded while you catch the ball, but you may move your second grounded foot.
  • This is called pivoting. Your landing foot can be lifted off the ground but you should release the ball before grounding it for a second time.

14. England Netball Rules Marking off Court

It is a defense rule in which the Goal Defense blocks the the way of Goal Attack on the court. In this, a Goal Attack leaves the court and attempts to come back from the back line under the post. Goal attack does so because he wants to earn a penalty pass from the umpire by insisting that the Goal Defense has tried marking him off the court.

Marking off is all about pushing (without physical contact and maintaining at least 3 feet distance between players) a player out of the court by preventing him from passing the ball and thereby stopping him from scoring the goal.

Note: A player is not permitted to mark a player off with his arms outstretched.

More specifically, when the offender marks a player with the ball, he (offender) must stand at a distance of 3 feet from the player holding the ball.

This distance is measured between the defending player’s landed foot and passing player’s nearest foot. In case the holder of the ball doesn’t move his feet, the distance is determined from the closet feet of both the players; the defender and the passer. Maintaining this distance of three feet is quintessential. The defender can adapt various tactics to keep off the passer but he has to be be cautious of the distance encroachment.

15. Dimensions of the Court

It’s played on a rectangular court, measuring approximately 30.5 meters (100 feet) long and15.25 meters (30feet) wide. The court is divided into thirds. The mid part of the court is called center third. While the two sides at either end of the court are known as the goal thirds.

The both the goal thirds, we will find a semi-circle that is called the circle containing a post with a ring and a net in the center.

In the middle third, you’ll find a smaller circle known as the center circle. The center circle is where games are started from and then restarted whenever a team scores a goal. The long outlines of the court are known as the sidelines, and the short outlines are called the goal lines. Lastly, the two lines that divide the thirds of the court are termed as the transverse lines.

Major Netball Positions Explained

1. Goal Shooter (GS)

The goal shooter is the one who scores goals for the team. Thus, it is probably the most important position in netball.

  • He is allowed in the attacking third and the goal circle but can’t enter anywhere else on the court.
  • He should have brilliant shooting skills and has to be able to react quickly, deal with passes and rebounds.
  • The goal shooter is the game changer with considerable height (tallest among the teammates) and steady hands on the court.

2. Goal Attack (GA)

The primary role of goal attack is to set up the gaol for the goal shooter.

  • He has to feed the goal shooter so that he (goal shooter) can shoot the ball through the net post.
  • In case the defenders are marking the goal shooter, he will often have a shot from the nearer edge of the goal circle.
  • He is allowed to play in the center third, the attacking third and the goal circle but can’t enter the defensive third.
  • His space is the same as that of a wing attack but he sometimes gets the shooting circle too.
  • He must have both strong passing and shooting skills to play his part effectively.

3. Wing Attack (WA)

Wing attack is the play maker of the netball court.

  • His foremost aim is to create as many goal scoring chances as possible by passing the bail to the goal shooter.
  • He can play in the attacking and center third but not allowed to enter in the goal circle or the defensive third.
  • Wing attack should have solid passing and collecting skills.
  • His fine footwork and ability to open up space on the court proves to be highly helpful for the team.

4. Center (C)

The primary role of Center Position holder is to support the defense and attack. The center is normally regarded as the engine of the team because he has to be swift and creative while passing.

  • He is free to move in the whole court saving the goal circles.
  • His team heavily depends on him for shifting the ball fairly away from the defensive area into attack.
  • He also restarts the game, each time a goal is scored, by making a pass from the center circle.

Note: Center is often the smallest among teammates.

5. Wing Defense (WD)

Wing Defense is permitted to go into the center and defensive thirds but not in the attacking third or the goal circle.

  • His chief role is to prevent the ball from reaching the opposition’s goal circle.
  • He seizes passes and feeds them back to the attacking areas.
  • For getting the ball forward, he marks the opposite wing attack.
  • He has to be focused and brilliant at controlling the bail.
  • He is an absolute defender because he tries to stop every ball before it reaches an opposite goal shooter.

6. Goal Defense (GD)

It is quite essential for a goal defense to have sharp anticipation skills so that he can monitor the moves of opposite team. A goal defense, with excellent anticipation and readiness, can block the passes (coming from attacking players of opponent team) and get the bail out of his own danger area.

  • A goal defense patrols three areas; the defensive third, the goal circle and the center third.
  • His key job is to stop the opposition from scoring goals and to get the ball out of the danger area.
  • He has to keep a keen eye on the goal attack of the opponent team.

7. Goal Keeper (GK)

A goal keeper is in the last line of defense sequence;

  • He is the guard of goal circle and the defensive third.
  • His prime objective is to stop the opponent team’s goal shooter from scoring.
  • Goalie has to stay alert so he can collect rebounds off the post and block passes.
  • He is also responsible for tabing throw-ins from the goal-line.

Note: He has to be brave, tall and physically fit so that he can dauntlessly protect the goal post against aggressive attacks of opponent team.

Netball Skills & Strategies

For playing netball with spirit and interest, one has to acquire following set of skills:

a. Speed in the Game

Speed is of vital importance in many running and movement induced sports. It is equally necessary for a netball player to gain speed since he needs to run briskly across the court, defend the ball from his vigilant opponents and pass it to his teammates. Speed and agility help players in making quick moves and dodging opponents.

b. Strength in the Nerves

The speed is dependent upon strength. Greater the strength, greater the speed. Strength is heavily used by goal shooters and goal attackers. It helps them while jumping and throwing the ball into the net.c. c.

c. Anticipation

To have excellent anticipation skills is equally beneficial. A player being aware of the moves of his opponents can help his team stop them (opponents) from scoring goals.

Netball Vs Basketball; Key differences

Netball is different from basketball in two major ways:

1). Number of players: In basketball, a side has 5 players (men) 6 players (women).
On the other hand, Netball has minimum 5 players and maximum 7 players in each side.

ii). Manners of playing: In basketball, a player, after receiving the ball from his teammates, may run with the ball and change his position while holding it.

While in netball a player has to stand still until he has passed it to another team mate. In simple words, in basketball a player is free to move, but in netball his movement is highly restricted.


1. What does over a third mean in Netball?

It means the ball must not be thrown from first third to the last third. It has to be touched or caught by players in each of the thirds. In simple words, we can say that the ball must not cross two transverse lines in single go. It has to be touched or caught by players in each third of the court before it goes or crosses two transverse lines.

2. Netball Rules throw in?

The throw in is taken after the ball has gone outside of the court other than goalposts. Throw in normally means to throw the ball back to the court from the spot it went outside. The player who makes the throw in has to throw it in by placing her foot up in a way so that it does not come in contact with sideline or back line of the court. If she violates the rule of throw in, she will cause a free pass to the opponent side.

3. Netball Rules toss up?

Toss up involves an umpire and two centers opposing each other in the center third area. The umpire who stands between two centers, throws the ball up so that either player can catch the ball being thrown.

Note: Umpire usually throws the ball up, not greater than two feet high, so as to give an opportunity to smaller center to catch the ball first. It is not always caught by the smaller center, it depends on center’s being vigilant.

4. Netball Rules timeout?

Each team is allowed to request for more than two timeout intervals. These timeout breaks may be taken during both halves of the game. Timeout respite may benefit teams to regain strength, make strategy and ultimately win the game.

5. Netball Rules foot on line?

Touching the line of court is considered a foul. This rule is usually observed during throw ins. A player is not allowed to step into the court or touch the line of it in the process of throw ins. His silly mistake may result in free pass to the opponents.

6. Netball Rules kicking the Ball?

As we have discussed that this game is not played with feet, more specifically by kicking the ball. Conversely, this game is played by using ones hands. So, players are not permitted to kick the ball deliberately, strike it with elbow, fist etc. In simple words, striking of any kind is not allowed in netball.

It is played by passing the ball between players by means of throws. Remember, it is netball not FOOTBALL.

7. Netball overtime Rules?

This rule comes into play when the game ends in a tie or equal points. There are two overtimes in netball. Each consists of 7 minutes and in total 14 minutes are allowed. In case game results in tie after completion of these 14 minutes, any team having 2 points higher is declared as winner.

8. Netball Rules for whistle?

In netball, rules keep on changing time and again. The latest whistle rules says that umpires are no longer allowed to blow their whistles when a goal is made or the ball crosses the court and goes out of the court. It is estimated that the act of blowing whistle will reduce 30% after the implementation of this rule.

9. Penalty Pass in Netball?

Penalty pass is taken by the team (other than the defaulter) at the site of infringement. A soon as the penalty pass is played, the offender (the one who causes a penalty by breaking any rule of the game) has to stand outside of the court.

10. Netball rules for injury time?

In netball, if any player of a team gets injured accidentally, his team is given two minutes to sort out things. Before taking the injured player out of the court, any of the on-field player must inform the umpire to halt the game temporarily and clarify the cause of this also.

Once the player is given permission and play is stopped for 2 minutes, his treatment may carry on off-court.

11. Netball Rules for Replayed ball?

Replay means to play the ball twice. A replay of the ball is usually decided by the umpire. A player is allowed to tap the ball with one hand or may let it bounce before taking it in possession; it is not considered a replay. However, when he takes the ball with his both hands, lets it bounce on the ground once and again holds it with both the hands, is regarded as a replay.

12. Can you bounce the ball in Netball?

Yes, you can but for once, and only to manage the ball the ball or gain its control. However, you are not allowed to bat or bounce the ball more than once. If you did so, you are going to cost a free pass.

13. Netball rules for shooting the ball?

The shooting rules are straightforward. a. Only two players (goal shooter and goal attack) from each team are allowed to shoot the ball. b. While shooting the ball, they have to be inside the semicircle that surrounds the netball goalposts on each side of the court.

14. How to win a Netball game?

A team has to outscore its opponent team for winning the netball game. A goal is scored by shooting the ball in the goalpost on opponent side. Two players viz; goal shooter and goal attack are allowed to score goals for his team while being inside the goal circle.

In netball, every game is divided into 4 quarters. Each quarter consists of 15 minutes. Winner is declared after the completion of all the quarters.

15. Primary school Netball?

Netball is rapidly progressing as a female sport around the globe, specially England. It’s widely famous among kids in England. Many schools in that country are including netball in the extracurricular activities. They urge students to be part of this amazing game. They believe that this game will boost students’ confidence, enhance their health and make them social. Schools also hire professionals to be the couches or trainers in schools so that this game can be further popularized.


To sum up all this, netball is an amazingly wonderful game. It emerged from basketball but later separated itself from its parent game. It is predominately played by two women teams, each team has 7 players.

As far as its court is concerned,its rectangular with 30.5 meters (100 feet) length and 15.25 meters (30feet) width. The court is divided into thirds by transverse line. There are two goal posts on each end of the court.Netball has its own international governing body “International Federation of Netball Associations” with over 60 member teams playing in different regions around the globe.

In addition to know more in depth, you may kindly check here for more sports rules

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