New to netball? If you’re planning to get into this popular sport (which is played in more than 80 countries by over 20 million people worldwide), then you will need to learn the basics of the sport as well as the important rules that can give you a clear picture of how to properly play the game.

What, exactly, is netball? It’s a ball sport that is played by two teams made up of seven players each; players are assigned specific positions that determine their movement in their designated court areas. On a rectangular court that has raised goal rings at each end, players aim to score goals by throwing the netball into a ring attached to a goal post that stands 3.05 metres. Netball games generally last 60 minutes (although there can be variations), and the team that scores the most goals is declared the winner.

Below are guidelines to the official netball rules Australia players must follow in order to participate in and enjoy a good, invigorating game of netball.

Game length

Netball games last 60 minutes and are played over four 15-minute quarters. Between the first and second quarters and the third and fourth quarters, a three-minute break is allowed. Five minutes is allotted for the halftime break while two minutes is given for injury time.

Playing positions

There are seven playing positions in each team: Goal Shooter, Goal Attack, Wing Attack, Centre, Wing Defence, Goal Defence, and Goal Keeper.

How the game starts

The game begins at the umpire’s whistle, when the first centre pass is taken; the same whistle is also used to announce the beginning and end of each quarter.

Goals

A goal can be scored by a player assigned to the Goal Attack or Goal Shooter position, when the ball is thrown completely through the goal ring (signalled by the umpire’s whistle).

Changes and Substitutions

Any number of substitutions can be made by a team at the quarter, half or three-quarter time break. This also applies during stoppages caused by illness or injury. Even when the team that called for a timeout makes no positional changes or substitutions, the opposing team can make changes of their own.

Three-second rule

A player must shoot for a goal or pass the ball within three seconds of receiving it.

Obstructing another player

A player, with arms extended, is not allowed to defend a player holding the ball closer than 0.9 metres (from the attacking player’s first landed foot to the defending player’s nearer foot). However, a player (who does not have arms extended) is allowed to stand close to an opponent who is not holding the ball. Intimidating actions cannot be used against an opponent, regardless of whether the opponent has or doesn’t have the ball.

Offside rules

Players must stay within their restricted playing areas. Moving offside or outside of these areas will result in a free pass being awarded to the opposing team in the offside area.

Over a third

The ball cannot be thrown over a complete third of the playing court without being touched by a player within that area.

Penalties

There are five different penalties in netball: free pass, penalty pass, penalty pass or shot, throw-in, and toss-up.

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