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Introduction to netball

Netball's basic rules and origins

Here’s a brief introduction to netball and its fitness benefits. We'll tell you everything you need to know, from its origins as a sport to a brief rundown of the rules.

An introduction to netball

Netball is one of the fastest growing participation sports in the world. Adapted from basketball, it was once known as ‘women's basketball’ and was brought to England from America in the early 1900s. The game was first played outdoors by women on grass, and was essentially the game we now recognize as netball.

Introduction to netball

An international netball federation was formed in 1960 and the first world netball championships were held in England three years later. The sport is popular in countries such as the UK, Australia and New Zealand, as well as other members of the British Commonwealth.

Today, like basketball, the game is played on a hard court consisting of thirds, with scoring rings at both ends, but with no ‘backboard’ to score off. The balls used are similar to those used in basketball, but are slightly lighter, smaller and softer in construction.

Netball is a non-contact sport and players have to be fast, strong and agile. A game puts considerable pressure on the body, with players having to make short sprints, hard stops, and twists and turns during the course of the match.

Netball positions

The game is usually played by two teams of seven players — the aim being to outscore the opponents. Each player in a team has their position clearly marked by an abbreviation on their bib.

The netball positions are:

Goal Shooter (GS)

Goal Attack (GA)

Wing Attack (WA)

Centre (C)

Wing Defence (WD)

Goal Defence (GD)

Goal Keeper (GK).

Each position in netball is quite specialized and has a specific purpose, and is limited to a certain area of the court. The ball must be touched by a player in each third of the court on its way to the shooters before a point can be scored.

While usually thought of as a women’s sport, men’s netball teams and leagues also exist — although they are less common.

Fitness benefits of netball

Although a non-contact sport, netball is still a fast-paced and intensive game, which will quickly boost your health and fitness levels. Here are some of the key benefits of playing netball:

  • Burning calories and lowering body fat if played regularly.
  • Improves upper body strength, working out key arm muscles.
  • Improves hand-eye co-ordination, with precision passing and shooting necessary to succeed.
  • Builds up leg muscle strength and stamina due to its mixture of brief bursts of sprinting and longer jogging.
  • Develops the body’s cardiovascular system, with the heart and lungs able to deliver more oxygen to fuel the muscles.
  • Improves the body’s flexibility and nimbleness, as it requires quick changes of direction and speed.

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