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Netball - The Game

Netball was invented in 1891 by Canadian-American James Naismith. In the original game, there is no dribbling, only throwing and catching (as well as shooting hoops-no dunk shots, though). When Naismith sent instructions for his game, including a diagram of the court to Calara Baer in 1895, a simple misunderstanding led to the development of netball. Baer read the diagram as meaning that the players did not move from their designated area on the court, an adaptation that remains to this day.

The game has continued to grow in popularity and was played in the last Commonwealth Games .  Since 1963, there have been world netball championships held every four years. Australia is considered the team to beat, having had 8 wins of the 10 tournaments. In 1995, netball became an Olympic sport, which is sure to drive its popularity further, as is the growing popularity of mixed team and men's netball. The emphasis on cooperation, rather than egocentric individual plays as in men s basketball, may be part of it s appeal for women. The entire team must focus and play together to win the game, allowing satisfaction for all the players, not just the superstar few. As the number of women originally from such places such as the United Kingdom grows in the US, so will the popularity of this sport, bringing a home-grown sport back home.

Although traditionally the majority of netball players have been female, the game is being played by growing numbers of men in internationally on all-male or mixed teams. Netball for males has recently been acknowledged internationally and the first ever Men's World Championships are being planned to be held in New Zealand soon.

Netball is basically a running, chasing, passing and dodging game played by two teams of seven players. Goals are scored by throwing the ball through a 10 foot high, horizontal ring that is defended by the other side. The game consists of four 15 minute quarters, with a 3 minute interval between the first and second quarter, a five minute interval at half-time, and another three minute interval between the third and fourth quarters. Teams change end with every quarter.

The 100 x 50 foot court is divided lengthwise into thirds, with a 10 foot high goalpost (with a net, but no backboard) on each end of the court. The goal circle is drawn around each goal (radius of 16 feet). Shots must only be attempted from within the circle. Each of the seven players indicates her position by,letters on the front and back of her uniform-GS, GA, WA, C, WD, GD, and GK. The ball (between 27 and 28 inch circumference) must not be held by a player for more than three seconds, nor can the player take more than two steps with the ball.

Netball is a fast and energetic game that promotes team play by using basic passing, catching, running and shooting skills. Each team has seven positions which allows each athlete to specialize as either a shooter, defender or mid-court player.An advantage of netball is the relative simplicity of the equipment needed to play the game. The basic requirements include two goal posts, a marked court, a ball, fourteen pinnies(bibs) to designate positions, and 14 people with good shoes who are ready to have some fun!
These are the positions and their respective playing areas:

Defensive Positions  
GK = Goal Keeper  
WD = Wing Defense  
GD = Goal Defense 

Attacking Positions  
GS = Goal Shooter  
WA = Wing Attack  
GA = Goal Attack 

Link between  
Attack and Defense  
C = Centre 


The Rules in Brief
Time - Games are either 2 x 40 minute halves, or 4 x 15 minute quarters

Scoring - Each goal is worth one point. Only the two designated shooters can shoot and shots must be taken from within the shooting circle.

Obstruction - One may not defend from closer than three feet to the player with the ball.

Contact - One may not touch another player, or touch the ball while it is in another players hands.

Held ball - One may not hold the ball for longer than three seconds at a time.

Offside - A player may not go outside of his or her designated area.

Re-played ball - One may not pass the ball and re-catch it without it touching someone else or the goal post. But a player may bounce the ball once to gain possession.

Over a third - The ball may not go untouched over any of the courts three designated thirds.

Stepping or Footwork- A player may not take more than one step with the ball at a time. The first foot to touch the court after the ball is caught is called the player's grounded, pivot, or landed foot. If this foot is lifted it cannot be re-grounded before the player throws the ball.

Throw-in - When the ball is thrown out of court it is thrown back on court by a member of the non-offending team.

Centre pass - Play starts and re-starts with alternate centre passes from the centre circle. Re-starts occur after each goal scored.

**Any infringement of the rules will result in the non-offending team being awarded a free pass or a penalty pass or shot at goal from wherever the infringement occurred.

The Official IFNA Rules in .pdf format can be downloaded HERE