How to Play Netball

by Siraj

First played in England in 1895, netball has spread to more than 70 countries. Played predominantly by women, the sport is similar to basketball. Two teams of 7 players try to shoot a rubber or leather ball, measuring 27 to 28 inches (67 to 77 cm) in circumference, into the other team's goal ring at either end of the court. The International Federation of Netball Associations is responsible for setting the rules. Keep reading for detailed instructions on how to play.



Find an indoor or outdoor regulation netball court. It measures 100 feet (30.5 meters) long and 50 feet (15.25 m) wide. The court has horizontal lines dividing it into thirds. In addition to the center circle, there are 2 goal semicircles at each end. The 15-inch-wide (38 cm) goal ring extends horizontally from a 10-foot (3 m) post located at the midpoint of each goal line. Not only is the hoop smaller than basketball, there's no backboard.


Form a team of 10 or more players. If you have over 14 players have some as subs and rotate them in.


Assign positions to the players. Only 2 players, identified by the insignia GS (Goal Shooter) and GA, (Goal Attack) can score. The other 5 positions are Goal Keeper (GK), Goal Defense (GD), Wing Attack (WA), Wing Defense (WD) and Center (C). These identification letters are displayed on the front and back of each player's jersey.


Toss a coin to decide first possession of the ball or which goal end each team starts in.


Begin play with a center pass. The Center (C) stands in the center circle and passes the ball to a teammate standing in the center third of the court. After each goal is scored, play resumes with another center pass.


Score a goal by shooting the ball through your team's (GA+GS) goal ring while standing inside the goal circle.


Follow the major and minor rules of the game to avoid penalties. There are 2 umpires on the court, who make decisions during the game and call penalties.

  • Major rules prohibit contact (accidental or deliberate), obstruction and intimidation. Should an infringement on a major rule occur, the offending player must stand out of play while the other team throws a pass or shot from where the offense occurred.
  • Minor rules prohibit holding the ball for more than 3 seconds, stepping while in possession of the ball, moving out of the designated area for the position (offsides) or throwing the ball over a third of the court. Should an infringement on a minor rule occur, the other team gets a free pass from where the offense occurred.


Play netball for 4 quarters, each 15 minutes long. There is a 5 or 10-minute break at halftime and a 3-minute break after the first and third quarters.


Win by scoring more goals than the other team before the game is over.

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