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How to pass, shield, and shoot in netball

netball shooting
File photo credit: Chris McGrath/SportSG

MASTER YOUR NETBALL TECHNIQUE (1): PASSING, SHIELDING, SHOOTING

By Yeo Han Hwee

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." – Aristotle

If you want to get better at netball, you have to practice and do a lot of drills. We have compiled some useful tips on shooting, shielding, and passing to help you improve, and take your game to the next level.

1. Shooting

In netball, only the Goal Shooter and Goal Attack are allowed to shoot, and this may only be done from the inside of the semicircle. 

  • You need accuracy since there is no backboard like in basketball. A proper stance is the key. Stand with your hips and feet about shoulder width apart, for balance and stability.
  • Keep your dominant hand behind and under the ball, with your fingers bent, and cradle it with your fingertips. Your other hand should be on the side to keep it stable. This way, you will give the ball extra boost and spin. 
  • Your arms and hands control the direction of the ball, but real power comes from your legs. When you shoot, bend your knees, keep your back straight and your head high. Spring up, follow through with your arms and release the ball. Test how far you need to bend for the best results. 
  • As you are about to make your shot, focus on the back of the ring. As you release the ball, flick your wrist and use your fingers to spin the ball backwards. That way, even if it misses, it will bounce back towards you. 

2. Shielding and defending

Shielding, or defending, is a very underrated skill but it is essential. Good defence prevents your opponents from scoring, and it also gives you the opportunity to gain possession of the ball!
  • Think of defence as keeping the opponents from easily getting to where they want to go. For example, if a Wing Attack wants to get to the semicircle’s edge, you (as defence) will want be in the way legally. Position your body to block and delay the Wing Attack. So do lots of cardio and practice changing directions as much as possible.
  • Raise your hands up and try to defend. Don’t keep them by your side. When you stop, stay on the balls of your feet, (i.e. don’t stay flat footed). This will give you additional spring and explosiveness.
  • If you are a Goal Keeper or Goal Defence, you need to defend. Bend at the hips but keep your back straight. Lean in over the shot. As your opponent goes for the shot, jump (maintaining this form) and this will greatly increase your chances of tipping the ball away or intercepting it. 

The 7 different netball positions: 
  • Goal Keeper (GK)
  • Goal Defence (GD)
  • Wing Defence (WD)
  • Centre (C)
  • Wing Attack (WA)
  • Goal Attack (GA)
  • Goal Shooter (GS)

netball positions

3. Passing

There are 5 different types of passes – the chest pass, bounce pass, lob, overhead pass and shoulder pass. Practice drilling (both two handed and single hand) as you will definitely be using all these passes in a game.

  • For a two handed chest and bounce pass, your palms and thumbs should make a “W” behind the ball. Remember to keep your elbows tucked. 
  • Keep your body weight distributed on both feet, with one foot slightly in front of the other. As you pass the ball, push forward with your arms but also move your body weight forward onto your front foot. This will give it extra force and momentum. 
  • Most of us are have a stronger, dominant part of the body. For netball, it is important to have equal strength in both halves. Do drill and exercises to strengthen yourself. That way, you will be able to pass (and catch) more accurately the ball from all angles, whether it is with one hand or two.
  • You don’t require a partner to practice passing. Mark several spots on the wall with tape. Make sure they are of different heights. Stand slightly further away from the wall at different intervals and practice your one handed and two handed passes.

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