Re-fresh your Netball rules!

Netball rules for beginners, players needing a re-fresh and for those returning to netball!


The most common, and most important rules to know!


Feet before arms:
When marking your opponent whilst they’re holding the ball, whether that’s on court or marking the shooters in the D, remember “Feet before arms!” It is great practice to always check your distance (3 foot rule) before you raise your arms to mark the ball, as this will ensure that you won’t be pulled up for ‘obstruction’ and give away a free pass or shot.


Obstruction Rule:
Netball is a non-contact sport, players are not allowed to make physical contact with their opponents. When marking a player, you must maintain a distance of at least three feet (approximately 0.9 meters) from the player you are marking. This distance is measured from the landing foot of the player in possession of the ball. You are allowed to use your arms to defend the ball, as long as you check you are the correct distance away before raising them! You cannot obstruct their movement or be in their way deliberately or accidentally. You will be penalised if you mark a player with your arms out if they do not have possession of the ball.


Netball is a non-contact sport, so players are not allowed to make physical contact with their opponents. ‘Contact’ occurs when a player’s actions interfere with an opponent’s play whether these are accidental or deliberate. Maintaining a safe distance and using proper defensive techniques is crucial.


Footwork Rule:
Correct footwork is crucial in netball. The foot that touches the ground first after catching a ball is your ‘landing’ foot, and that must remain on the ground. You are able to move your other foot to change direction, which is called ‘Pivoting’. Avoid dragging your landing foot or taking additional steps after stopping, as this constitutes a footwork violation. If you land with both feet at the same time, you can select which foot you are able to move. The footwork rule applies when taking Centre Passes and Side-line/Backline passes too.


3 Second Rule/Held Ball:
A player in possession of the ball is not allowed to hold onto it for more than three seconds. You must pass the ball within this time frame. If you hold the ball for too long, it results in a turnover, and the opposing team gains possession with a ‘free pass’.


Replayed Ball Rule:
This rule specifically means that if you lose control of the ball and pick it back up again, the umpire will call this a replayed ball and the opposing team will receive a free pass. If a player taps or deflects the ball and then takes possession this would not be classed as replayed as the player did not have full control of the ball to begin with.


Boundaries for each Position:
Each player on the court has specific positions and boundaries they must adhere to.

GK: Allowed in their defending goal third and the D.
GD: Allowed in their defending goal third, Centre third and the D
WD: Allowed in their defending goal third and Centre third, but not the D
C: Allowed in all the thirds but not either D.
WA: Allowed in their attacking goal third, the centre third, but not the D.
GA: Allowed in their attacking goal third, the centre third and the D
GS: Allowed in their attacking goal third and the D.


Who is responsible for what:
In netball, specific players will take different passes when required throughout the game.

Centre Pass – C
Side-line pass or free throw in your attacking third – Usually WA/C
Side-line pass or free throw in the centre third – Usually the GD/WD
Side-line pass or free throw in your defending third – GK
Defending backline pass – GK
Attacking backline pass, free throw or shot inside the D – GS/GA
Attacking backline pass outside the D – C/WA

Footwork rules apply whilst taking any of these passes. Players must also remember to keep both feet behind the line if taking a throw from outside the court. Understanding your role and knowing which pass you are responsible for helps with teamwork and coordination.


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). If this happens, a free pass will be given to the opposing team.


Penalties against you:
If you have given away a foul for Contact or Obstruction, the player who has received a penalty must position themselves next to the player taking the penalty shot. The penalised player must ensure that they do not obstruct or interfere with the penalty-taker in any manner. The peanlised player is prohibited from making any physical or verbal attempts to participate in the ongoing play until after the ball has been released from the thrower’s hands. After the ball has been released, the penalised player is free to run back to join in the play.


Taking a Free Pass/Penalty:
Taking a Free Pass/Penalty: You have 3 seconds from setting the free pass/penalty in which to take it. If you decide that another player would be better taking it, you must place the ball back on the floor. Do not walk towards the other player to pass it to them (footwork) or hand it to them (short pass).

Learning and mastering these rules and techniques will help new netball players develop their skills and enjoy the game while playing it safely and within the rules.


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