Netball How to play: Beginners Guide

Netball How to Play: Newbie Guide

As a dedicated netball player and enthusiast, I often wonder, “Netball how to play?” Whether from curious friends or budding athletes, the interest in this dynamic, fast-paced sport is growing. And it’s my pleasure to share my knowledge and passion for the game that’s captured my heart.

Netball, a sport born in England in the late 19th century, has evolved from its early days as a variant of basketball to become a beloved sport in its own right. It’s a game that combines agility, precision, teamwork, and strategy. Whether on the courts of local clubs, school competitions, or international arenas, netball’s unique blend of physical challenge and tactical depth has captivated millions worldwide.

While netball shares some similarities with basketball, it stands apart with its distinct rules and gameplay. Seven players on each team, specific player positions, limited movement areas, and no dribbling are among the features that make netball a unique and exciting sport.

Netball is more than just a game in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and the UK; it’s a cultural phenomenon. It’s the sport of choice for many women, with national leagues drawing in large crowds and international competitions being fiercely contested.

In this blog post, I will guide you through the fundamentals of playing netball. From understanding the basic equipment and layout of the court to mastering essential techniques and strategies, we’ll embark on a journey that will equip you with the knowledge to take your first steps into the thrilling world of netball. Let’s jump in!

The Basics: Netball Equipment and Court

Before diving into how to play netball, we must familiarize ourselves with a netball court’s essential equipment and layout. After all, the court is our battlefield; knowing it well is the first step to becoming a proficient player.

The Netball Court

The netball court is a rectangular area measuring 100 feet in length and 50 feet in width. It’s divided into three equal sections: the goal third, the centre third, and the opposing goal third. Each goal third has a semi-circular “shooting circle” at the end, inside which goals can be scored.

A significant aspect of netball gameplay is restricting player movement based on their positions. Each player is confined to specific sections of the court, a feature that adds a unique layer of strategy to the game.

The Netball

The netball itself is a crucial piece of equipment. It’s slightly smaller than a basketball, with a 27.5 to 28.5 inches circumference. It’s designed to be gripped easily, facilitating the quick, precise passing that characterizes netball.

Netball Posts and Rings

A netball post with a ring is attached at each end of the court. These posts stand 10 feet tall, and the rings have a diameter of 15 inches. Netballs are shot through these rings to score goals.

Netball Attire

When playing netball, appropriate attire is essential. A typical netball uniform includes a team dress, skort or shorts, socks, and trainers. Netball trainers are designed to support the game’s crucial quick pivoting and lateral movements.

Understanding the equipment and court layout is the first step in mastering how to play netball. As we delve deeper into the rules and gameplay strategies in the following sections, keep this information in mind—it’s the foundation upon which your netball skills will be built.

Getting Started: Netball Rules and Regulations

With a firm grasp of the netball equipment and court, let’s delve into the rules and regulations that govern how to play netball. While it might initially seem daunting, these rules make netball a unique and strategically rich sport.


In netball, scoring is done by shooting the ball through the opponent’s net. They can only take a shot within the shooting circle; for a goal to count, the ball must not touch the ring. Only two positions can score goals – the Goal Shooter (GS) and Goal Attack (GA).

Non-contact Sport

Netball is a non-contact sport. This rule means that players must not contact each other physically. They also can’t hold the ball for more than three seconds or take more than 1.5 steps when in possession of the ball.

Offside Rule

Each player has a specific area of the court where they can move. If a player moves outside their designated area, they’re considered offside, and the opposing team is awarded a free pass. This restriction is known as the offside rule.


When two players simultaneously gain possession of the ball, or if there’s uncertainty about a rule infringement, the umpire initiates a ‘toss-up’. This procedure involves the umpire throwing the ball vertically between the two players who try to gain possession.


Rule infringements in netball result in penalties, which include free passes or penalty passes/shots awarded to the opposing team. Penalties are awarded for infringements like contact, obstruction (defending a player closer than 3 feet), or held ball (holding the ball for more than three seconds).

While simplifying the game, these rules also add layers of complexity, making netball a sport of quick decision-making and strategic thinking. In the next section, we’ll look at the different player positions in netball and their roles, which are integral to the game’s structure.

Understanding Positions: Roles of Netball Players

In netball, effectively playing each position is critical to a successful team strategy. Each of the seven positions has a specific role and is restricted to certain areas of the court. Understanding these roles and restrictions is crucial to mastering the game.

Goal Shooter (GS)

The GS has one main job – score goals. They can move within their goal third and the shooting circle but nowhere else on the court. Their prowess in accurate shooting is pivotal to the team’s success.

Goal Attack (GA)

The GA, like the GS, can score goals and help bring the ball down the court. They can move in the goal third, the shooting circle, and the centre third.

Wing Attack (WA)

The WA is primarily a feeder, helping to get the ball from the centre third into the shooting circle. They’re allowed in the centre and goal third but cannot enter the shooting circle.

Centre (C)

The Centre is the team’s engine, linking the defence and the attack. They’re allowed everywhere on the court except the two shooting circles. They also take the centre pass at the start of each quarter and after scoring a goal.

Wing Defence (WD)

The WD’s role is to stop the opposing WA and to protect the goal third. They can move in the defensive and centre third but are not allowed in their shooting circle.

Goal Defence (GD)

The GD’s job is to prevent the GA from scoring goals. They can move in the goal third, the shooting circle, and the centre third, making them a vital link in both defence and attack.

Goal Keeper (GK)

The GK’s primary role is to stop the GS from scoring. They can move within their goal third and the shooting circle. Their ability to intercept and rebound can be game-changing.

Knowing your role in a netball team and positional restrictions are key elements of playing netball effectively. Next, we’ll dive into the essential techniques of netball and how to master them.

Mastering the Skills: Essential Netball Techniques

Netball, like any sport, requires mastery of specific fundamental skills. Regardless of their position on the court, these are the building blocks of any player’s game. Let’s delve into these essential techniques in netball.


Passing is the cornerstone of netball. The ball is moved down the court primarily through passes, the two most common types being the chest pass and the bounce pass. The chest pass is thrown directly to a teammate, while the bounce pass hits the ground before reaching the receiver. Mastery of these passes and overhead and lob passes is essential for effective ball movement.


Catching is just as crucial as passing. A netball player must be able to catch the ball securely and quickly, regardless of the pass’s speed or direction. This skill requires good hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes.


In netball, the goal shooter and goal attack positions require expert shooting skills. Shooting in netball involves a specific technique: the player must hold the ball high, aim for the back of the ring, and flick their wrist upon release to impart backspin.


Defending in netball involves maintaining a three-foot distance from the player with the ball (to avoid an obstruction foul) and attempting to intercept passes. It requires agility, anticipation, and good timing.


In netball, a player must land on one foot when receiving the ball. They can then pivot on that foot and step with the other foot, but once both feet have touched the ground, the first foot to land cannot be lifted again until the ball has been passed. This rule makes footwork a critical skill in netball.


Dodging is a movement skill used to evade defenders. It often involves a change of pace or direction and is a valuable tool for creating space to receive a pass.

Mastering these skills is the key to becoming a proficient netball player. But you need more than knowing the skills; you must know when and how to apply them in a game situation. That’s where strategy comes in, which we will cover in the next section.

Gameplay Strategies: Tactics for Success in Netball

Learning the mechanics of how to play netball is just the beginning. To truly excel, you need to understand the strategy behind the game. Let’s discuss some key gameplay strategies to give your team the upper hand.

Effective Communication

In netball, communication is key. Players should always know where their teammates are and coordinate their movements. Verbal and non-verbal cues can help set up plays and ensure smooth transitions between offence and defence.

Space Utilization

Understanding and utilizing space effectively can create scoring opportunities. Players should spread out to stretch the defence, making it easier to pass the ball around. The concept of ‘driving into space’ – moving quickly into an open area to receive a pass – is a fundamental netball strategy.

Timing of Passes

The timing of passes is crucial in netball. A well-timed pass can allow a teammate to receive the ball in a good position and avoid defenders. It’s not always about passing to where your teammate is, but where they will be.

Defensive Pressure

Applying defensive pressure can force the opposing team into errors. This pressure can involve intercepting passes, blocking shots, or marking opponents closely to limit their options.

Transitioning from Defense to Attack

Successful teams are those that can quickly transition from defence to attack. When possession is won back, players should move the ball forward quickly before the opponents have time to set up their defence.

Set Plays

Set plays, or ‘moves,’ are pre-planned strategies used mainly in the attacking third to create shooting opportunities. They often involve players moving in specific patterns to confuse defenders and open space.

Incorporating these strategies into your game can significantly impact your team’s performance. However, in theory, more than understanding them is required- they must be practised repeatedly until they become second nature. This brings us to our next section – training and drills for netball.

Training and Drills: Practicing Your Netball Skills

No matter how well you understand the rules and strategies of netball, the key to truly mastering the game lies in regular practice. Drills that focus on specific skills can significantly enhance your performance on the court. Here are some drills you can incorporate into your training regimen.

Passing Drills

Practising different types of passes with a partner can significantly improve your accuracy and timing. Start stationary and then introduce movement to simulate match conditions.

Shooting Drills

Shooting drills can help you hone your accuracy. Try shooting from different positions within the circle, and then introduce a defender to increase the challenge.

Defending Drills

Defending drills, such as shadowing a player or practising interceptions, can enhance your defensive skills. Remember to maintain the three-foot distance to avoid obstructions.

Footwork Drills

Footwork drills, like stepping and pivoting exercises, can help you become more agile and efficient in your movements. Incorporating a ball into these drills can make them more effective.

Gameplay Drills

Practice matches are the best way to apply your skills in a game-like setting. This will help you better understand the game’s flow and improve your decision-making skills.

Fitness Drills

Netball is a physically demanding sport that requires strength, endurance, and agility. Incorporating fitness drills, like sprints or agility ladder exercises, into your training can significantly improve your performance on the court.

Remember, consistent practice is critical. Regularly performing these drills will help you improve your skills and contribute to better team performance. Now you’re well-equipped with knowledge of netball, how to play it, and how to excel at it. All that’s left is to step onto the court and put this knowledge into action. Happy playing!

Embracing the Netball Journey

Embracing netball and learning to play is not just about understanding the rules or perfecting the skills. It’s about immersing yourself in the spirit of the game. It’s about teamwork, strategy, resilience, and the sheer joy of participating in a sport that challenges your physical abilities and mental acuity.

As with any sport, your journey in netball will be filled with highs and lows. There will be triumphant wins and tough losses, moments of individual brilliance and times when nothing seems to go right. But remember every pass, every goal, and every game, whether won or lost, contributes to your growth as a player.

Netball is more than just a game – it’s a community. It’s a platform to make lifelong friendships, learn valuable life skills, and have fun. Because in netball, every step you take on the court brings a new opportunity to learn, grow, and excel. So, embrace the journey, whether you’re a seasoned player or a newbie just starting.

With this guide in hand, you’re well on your way to mastering the game of netball. After all, the world of netball is waiting for you! So, lace up your trainers, gather your teammates, and prepare to step onto the court.

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