Netball Rules

How to Play Netball

a netball ball on a court
a netball ball on a court

Netball is a fast-paced and exciting team sport that is played by two teams of seven players each.

Each team aims to keep or gain possession of the ball. By running, jumping catching and throwing the ball, the team in possession of the ball moves the ball through the court into the goal circle where they attempt to score for their team. The opposing team using various defensive movements to prevent scoring and gain possession of the ball.
Here are the comprehensive netball rules:

Court Dimensions: A netball court is rectangular in shape, measuring 30.5 meters in length and 15.25 meters in width. The court is divided into thirds by two transverse lines and a centre circle.

The Ball: The ball used in netball must be round and made of leather or a similar material. Its circumference should be between 69 and 71 centimetres and it should weigh between 400 and 450 grams.

The goal post: The post is placed in the middle of each goal line. The goal ring is made up of a metal hoop with a net attached to the bottom.The pole must be 3.05m high and 65-100mm in diameter. The ring is 15mm in diameter with 380mm internal diameter.

Players: Each team consists of seven players, including a goal shooter, goal attack, wing attack, centre, wing defence, goal defence, and goal keeper. Each player is assigned a specific area of the court in which they are allowed to move.

Netball Positions:

a netball court with all the positions and each third on court and which areas certain positions are
a netball court with all the positions and each third on court and which areas certain positions are

Scoring: Points are scored by shooting the ball through the goal ring. In a standard match, a goal is worth one point.

Match length: A match consists of 4 quarters played for 15minutes each. Halftime break can be between 8-12 minutes while the intervals between other quarters can be about 4 minutes. Teams change shooting ends after each quarter.

Starting the Game: Before the match starts the two captains from each team do a coin toss. The captain that wins the toss has a choice to either pick their goal end or to take the first centre pass.

Play restarts after each goal with the centre pass being taken by each team alternatively. The game starts with a centre pass, which is taken by the centre player in the middle of the court. The opposing team must stand at least three feet away until the ball is released.

Offside rule: A player with or without the ball cannot move into an area of the court that is not designated for their position.
This will result in a free pass being awarded to the opposing team.

Playing the Ball:

A player may:

  • Catch the ball with one or both hands

  • Roll the ball to themselves

  • Catch the ball as it rebounds from the goalpost

A player who has the ball can throw or bounce the ball in any direction to another player with one or both hands.

The ball must be released within 3 seconds

A player may not:

  • Kick the ball

  • Fall onto the ball to gain possession Hit the ball with a fish

  • Roll the ball to another player

A player who falls to the ground while holding the ball must regain footing before playing the ball and release it within 3 seconds of first catching it. They must maintain proper footwork in the process.

Footwork: A player can receive the ball:

  • With both feet grounded or jump to catch the ball and land on two feet simultaneously. You may then take a step in any direction with one foot (but not both) and pivot on the spot with the other foot. Once one foot is moved, the other is considered to be the landing foot.

  • With one foot grounded or jump to catch the ball and land on one foot. The landing foot cannot be moved, other than to pivot on the spot, whilst the other foot can be moved in any direction. Once the landing foot is lifted, it must not be re-grounded until the ball is released.

  • A player may not jump from both feet and land on both feet while in possession of the ball

Hopping or dragging the landing foot is not allowed.

Contact: Physical contact between players is not allowed, and players are not allowed to obstruct or impede the movement of an opponent. If contact is made, a free pass is awarded to the opposing team.

Specifically not allowed to:

  • Move into the path of an opponent who is committed to a particular landing space

  • Position so closely to an opponent that the player is unable to move without contacting (this refers to when a player is being double marked, usually a shooter).

  • Push, trip, hold or lean on an opponent or use other forms of physical contact.

  • Place a hand or hands on a ball held by an opponent or knock or remove the ball from possession of an opponent While holding the ball, push it into the hands of an opponent.

Out of Play: If the ball goes out of play, a throw-in is awarded to the team that did not touch the ball last. If the ball goes out of play on the side-line, it is thrown in from the point where it went out. If it goes out of play behind the goal line, it is thrown in from the nearest point on the same line.

Obstruction: A player attempting to intercept or defend the ball must be at least 3ft (0.9m) away from the player with the ball. This distance is measured from the landing foot of the player in possession of the ball.

Defending player without ball: Your arms can be outstretched when you are a marking your player off the ball if you are trying to:

  • To catch, deflect or intercept a pass

  • To obtain a rebound from an unsuccessful shot at goal

  • Momentarily signal for a pass or indicate the intended direction of movement

These instances are not classed as obstruction but you will be penalised if you mark a player with your arms out.

Over a third: The ball cannot be thrown over a complete third of the court without being touched or caught by a player (i.e. it cannot cross two transverse lines).

A free pass will be taken from the area where the ball crossed the second transverse line (i.e. where the ball should not have been).

Substitutions: Each team is allowed to make an unlimited number of substitutions during the game, but only during a break in play or with the permission of the umpire.

Short Pass: At the moment the ball is passed there must be room for a third player to intercept the ball with a hand as it moves from thrower to catcher.
This is quite a common error between shooters and centre court players around the circle.

Umpires: Netball games are officiated by two umpires, one on each half of the court, including the goal line. Each umpire controls the same half for the whole game. They are responsible for enforcing the rules of the game, keeping score, and managing the clock.

The first centre pass is started by the umpire controlling the goal end of the team taking the centre pass.
During a quarter, the centre pass is started by the umpire controlling the gaol end where the last gaol was scored.

The umpire controlling the centre pass is responsible for penalising any error by the centre taking the centre pass.

A player may not replay the ball. Specifically you can not:

  • lose control of the ball and pick it up again if it has not been touched by another player

  • catch a rebound from a shot on goal if the ball has not touched the post or another player

  • toss the ball into the air and catch it again without it being touched by another player.

Uniform: All players must wear their teams uniforms and sports shoes. Spiked soles are not allowed. The bibs/position initials must be clearly visible and worn in the front and back.
Players are not allowed to wear anything that may endanger themselves or other players.

Jewellery is not allowed

A medical alert bracelet maybe worn but it must be covered with tape.

Fingernails must be short and smooth

Hair must be tied back

Tie-Breakers/Extra Time: The terms of an extra time scenario must be specified before the match begins. In the event of a tie at the end of the game, a 4 minute break must be taken before extra time is played. Extra consists of two halves not longer than 7 minutes each. A 1 minute break is taken between the halves. Teams change shooting ends after each half. If teams are still tied at the end of half time, a series of extra time periods are played until one team has a two-point advantage.

Thank you for Reading! You can download the rules by clicking the button below.