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Understanding the rules of Netball

Do not let the myriad of rules pertaining to netball dissuade you from taking up the sport. At the core of it, netball is a game not unlike basketball that focuses on teamwork, passing and shooting.

Here are some of the basic rules of netball to get you acquainted with the sport.

1. Team, players and objective

Netball is a ball sport usually played by women comprising of two teams of seven players each.

Games are played on a rectangular court divided into thirds with a raised goal at each end. 

Players’ movements are restricted on court as they are assigned "positions" within the team that define their role.

Goal Shooter (GS): Works in and around the semi-circle with the GA to score goals

Goal Attack (GA): Works with GS to score goals

Wing Attack (WA): Flanks the offensive players giving them shooting opportunities

Centre (C): Links the defence and the attack 

Wing DefencePrevents WA from passing and to look for interceptions

Goal DefenceIntercepts the ball and prevent passes to the GA

Goal Keeper: Prevents the GA/GS from scoring goals within the semi-circle and works with GD

(Above) Playing positions in netball.

2. Scoring goals

The object of the game is for teams to pass a ball around and to shoot it into the goal ring to score goals. 

During play, a player with the ball can only take one step before passing it. She must also pass or shoot for goal within three seconds. 

However, goals can only be scored by the assigned shooting players. Netball games are divided into 15-minute quarters - 60 minutes long - at the end of which the team with the most goals scored wins.

Only the Goal Attack and Goal Shooter are able to score goals directly inside of the semicircle. The umpire's whistle signals the goal is scored.

It is the job of the Goal Defence and Goal Keeper to block the Goal Attack and Goal Shooter from shooting and they must be three feet or more away from the landing foot of the shooter. Or else, this is a violation called an obstruction.

A “no goal” occurs if a ball passes through the hoop that has been thrown either outside the circle or by a player other than the two shooters.

If a player completely misses a shot, the player may not catch it. It will be considered a “replay” if she does and a free pass will be awarded to the other team.

A goal will also not be awarded if the ball is deflected off the Goal Keeper or Goal Defence and goes through the goal ring.

3. Obstruction

Obstruction of a player in possession of the ball

A player attempting to intercept or defend the ball must be at least 3 feet or 0.9 metres away from the player with the ball. This distance is measured from the landing foot of the player in possession of the ball. 

Thus any attempt at intercepting or defending the ball must be made at length, or the move will result in a penalty pass to be awarded for obstruction. 
Obstruction of a player not in possession of the ball

Using your hands to block a player off the ball is allowed as long as it is for the purpose of catching, deflecting or intercepting a pass, obtaining a rebound from an unsuccessful shot at goal, or signaling for a pass.
An obstruction occurs if you mark a player with your arms out. 

This is because a player cannot:

i) Move into the landing space of an opponent

ii) Position so closely to an opponent contact is inevitable 

iii) Push, trip, hold or lean on an opponent resulting in physical contact

iv) Knock or remove the ball from the possession of an opponent while she is holding it in her hands

v) Or push the ball into the hands of an opponent

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