The basics of Netball

The Netball Court
A netball court measures 30.5m (100 feet) long and 15.25m
(50 feet) wide.
The court is divided into three equal parts – a Centre third and two goal thirds.
The goal circles have a radius of 4.9m.
The goalpost is 3.05 metres high and the metal ring has an internal
diameter of 380 mm. Netta hoop height is 2.4 metres.
The ball used in netball is size 5 and for Netta size 4.

Length of the Game
Netball is played in four quarters of 12 minutes each. There is a 2 minute break between the first and second quarter and the third and fourth quarters. The half time break is 3 minutes.
Injury time is up to 2 minutes.
Netta is played over four 10 minute quarters with the same break times between quarters as in netball.

Starting the Game

The game commences and is restarted after each goal is scored and at the beginning of each quarter by a centre pass taken alternatively by the two centres, irrespective of who scores the goal. The umpires whistle indicates the beginning and end of each quarter.

Scoring a Goal

A goal is scored when a Goal Shooter or Goal Attack with no contact with the ground outside the circle throws the ball completely through the goal ring.
The umpires whistle signals the goal is scored.
Netta players have undefended shots for goal and attempts (successful or not are recorded). Netta goal posts should be 2.4 metres high instead of 3.05 metres. A size 4 netball is used instead of a size 5.Team Changes and Substitutions
A team may make any number of substitutions at the quarter, half or three quarter time break as well as during a stoppage due to injury or illness. If a substitution or team change is made due to injury or illness the injured or ill player must be involved in the substitution or positional change.


A player cannot accidentally or deliberately come into contact with another player in a way which impedes their play.
For example, pushing, charging, tripping, throwing the body against an opponent or using the ball to push or contact an opponent.
Players must not hold an opponent, nor keep their elbows against another player.


A player with arms extended cannot defend closer than 0.9 metres (3 feet) – 1.2 metres for Netta players. This distance is measured from the first landed foot of the attacking player to the nearer foot of the defending player.
A player may stand closer to an opponent provided their arms are not extended.
If the attacking player lessons the distance in their throwing or shooting action, then the defending player is not considered to be obstructing because it was the attacking player and not the defending player who shortened the distance.
A player must not use intimidating actions against an opponent with or without the ball.

Held Ball

A player must pass the ball or shoot for goal, within three seconds (six for Netta).
Over a Third
The ball cannot be thrown over a complete third without being touched by a player in that third.
The pass is taken from the third where the player gained possession. It does not matter if they step into an adjacent third to throw.
A free pass is taken where the ball crossed the second transverse line.


Players must stay within their designated playing areas.
A player may reach over and take the ball from an offside area provided that no part of their body touches the ground in that area.
When two opposing players go offside but neither touches the ball, there are not penalised.
If one or both players are in possession of the ball when they go offside, a toss up is given in their area of play.

Out of Court

When the ball goes out of court it is thrown in by an opponent of the team which was last to touch it.
The player taking the throw in should place one or both feet behind the point where the ball crossed the line and make sure all other players are on the court before throwing the ball.
If a player has no contact with the ball they may stand or move out of the court but must make contact with the playing area and have no other contact with anything outside the court before attempting to touch the ball again.

Footwork (Stepping)

One foot Landing
When a player lands on one foot they may step with the other foot, lift the landing foot, but must throw before regrounding it.
They may use the landing foot as a pivoting foot, stepping in any direction with the other foot as many times as they wish. Once the pivoting foot is lifted they must pass or shoot before regrounding this foot.
A player may jump from the landing foot onto the other foot and jump again, providing they throw the ball before regrounding either foot.
NB. A player cannot: drag or slide the landing foot, hop on either foot.
Two foot Landing
If a player catches the ball and lands on both feet simultaneously, they may step in any direction with one foot, lift the other foot but must throw or shoot before regrounding this foot.
They may pivot on one foot, stepping in any direction with the other foot as often as they wish. Once the pivot foot is lifted they must throw the ball before regrounding this foot.
They may jump from both feet onto either foot, or step and jump but must throw or shoot before regrounding either foot. NB. Netta players are allowed to shuffle their feet to regain balance but are encouraged top use correct footwork. 

Playing the Ball
A player who has possession of the ball may not bounce the ball and replay it.
If a player does not catch the ball cleanly, it may be bounced once to gain possession or batted or bounced to another team mate.
After throwing the ball, a player cannot play it again until it is touched by another player, or rebounds off the goal post.

Short Pass

There must always be room for a third player to move between the hands of the thrower and those of the receiver when passing. Passes that do not have this room are called short passes.
A player cannot: punch, roll, kick or fall on the ball.
Pass the ball in any way while lying, sitting or kneeling on the ground
Use the goal post as a way to regain balance or as a support while stopping the ball from going out of court.

The Toss Up

A toss up is used to put the ball into play when:

  • opposing players simultaneously contact each other.
  • Opposing players simultaneously knock the ball out of court.
  • Opposing players simultaneously gain possession of the ball.
  • The umpire is unable to decide who last touched the ball out of court.
  • Opposing players are simultaneously offside with one in possession of the ball.
  • The two players stand 0.9m ( 1.2m for Nettas) apart, facing each other and 
  • Their own goal ends. Their arms should be straight with hands by their sides.

Once in position, they must not move until the umpire has tossed it up from just below shoulder height of the shorter player and blown the whistle.
The ball may be caught or batted except directly at an opponent.
A Goal Shooter or Goal Attack may shoot for goal from a successful possession at a toss up.


There are three types of penalties in netball:

  • a free pass
  • a penalty pass
  • a penalty pass or shot:

Free Pass
A free pass is awarded for all other infringements on the court.
The pass is taken where the infringement occurred by any player who is allowed in the area.
The offending player does not have to stand beside the thrower taking the pass.
If a free pass is awarded in the goal circle, the circle players may only pass the ball – not shoot for goal.

Penalty Pass

A penalty pass is awarded for contact, intimidation and obstruction infringements.
The pass is taken where the infringer was standing, except if it places the non defending team at a disadvantage.
The pass can be taken by any player who is allowed in the area.
The penalised player must stand “out of play”. That is, beside and away from the player taking the pass and make no attempt to take part in play until the ball has left the throwers hands.
If a penalty is given to a Goal Attack or Goal Shooter in the goal circle they are awarded a “penalty pass or shot”.

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