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What Is Netball?

Netball is a team sport that traces its roots to basketball, which explains why its rules are related. Netball was originally known as "women's basketball" and developed in the United States, and, while basically unknown in its homeland, it is the pre-eminent women's team sport (both as a spectator and participant sport) in Australia and New Zealand and is popular in Jamaica, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, and various other Commonwealth countries. When James Naismith devised basketball in 1891 for his students in the School for Christian Workers (later called the YMCA), female teachers got curious and started to formulate a version for girls. The outfits of women back in the day hindered them from effectively executing important basketball moves such as running and dribbling, so the game had to be modified to accommodate these restrictions. Later, the name "netball" was adopted as women were beginning to play basketball professionally, and the game started to attract male players.

Netball is a particularly fast and highly skilled sport. It was created by an American basketball coach attempting to improve the skills of basketball. He worked at Luton Teachers College in England where he introduced the sport to many of the graduating teachers. These teachers gained positions in schools all over England bringing this new and exciting game with them. Some of these teachers travelled the world teaching Netball in other countries. Netball is now played predominantly by women throughout the world hince international netball. Though today netball is a fast and growing sport internationally it's played particularly in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Netball is the world's most popular team game for women, and is played international, in over 70 countries by over 7 million people. Within the Commonwealth games netball has a higher nubmer of active participants than any other sport.

So how do you play Netball?

There are seven players on each team and the aim of the game is to get the ball in the opposing goal hoop as many times as possible throughout a 60 minute match. The netball court is 100 ft long by 50 ft wide, approximately the size of a tennis court. The court is split by two lines that divide the court into thirds. At both ends of the court there is a shooting semicircle and a ten ft goal post with no back board. Each team member has a specific position that is restricted to an area on the court. These restricted areas have an attacking and defending player in them, each from an opposing team.

Some of the main rules are

· Once the player has caught the ball only two steps may be taken

· A player can only hold the ball for three seconds.

· A defending player must be three feet away from an attacking player with the ball.

· Only two positions on the court can shoot

· Played either indoors or out on a hard surface by two teams of seven players

· Restricts areas in which team members play

· Requires goals to be scored by throwing a ball through a ring which is attached to a post
3.05 meters high.

Like basketball, the game is played on a hard court with scoring rings at both ends, and with a ball resembling a basketball (but lighter, smaller and slightly softer in construction, and usually white in colour). The rings, are the same height and dimension to basketball hoops, do not have a "backboard". The netball court is divided into thirds which regulate where individuals in each team are allowed to move, and two semi-circular "shooting circles" at each end from within which all scoring shots must be taken.

There are two umpires who each control a half of the court, a sideline, and a goal line. There are seven players on each team, who are given nominated, named positions. In competitive netball, each player must wear "bibs" or "patches" showing the abbreviations below, indicating their position. They are only allowed in certain areas of the court: a player in a section of court that is not part of their playing area is deemed "offside". The positions are described below:

By the combination of the above, only the Goal Attack and Goal Shooter are able to score goals directly. A ball that passes through the hoop, but has been thrown either from outside the circle or by any other player such as the GK or GD, is deemed a "no goal". Furthermore, a shooter (GA or GS) may not shoot for a goal if a "free pass" has been awarded for an infringement such as stepping, offside, or using the post.

Netball rules do not permit players to take more than one step in possession of the ball. Consequently, the only way to move the ball towards the goal is to throw the ball to a team-mate. The ball cannot be held by one person for more than three seconds at any one time, and a player may not throw the ball to himself or herself ("replay"). This, combined with the restrictions on where players can move, ensures that everyone on the team is regularly involved in play. Defence is restricted — not only is contact not permitted, but players must be at least three feet (90 centimetres) away from a player with the ball to defend, meaning that hard physical contact is rare. If contact is made, a penalty is given to the team of the player who was contacted, and the player who contacted must stand "out of play", meaning they cannot defend, point, speak, amongst other rules, until the player taking the penalty has thrown the ball.

A game is played in four quarters, each one lasting 15 minutes, with an interval of three minutes between the first and second quarters, and between third and fourth quarters. There is also an interval of five minutes at half time. If a player has an injury, a team-mate or umpire calls time, and the time keeper pauses the timer. When the game starts and the player has swapped places with another player, or is healthy, play is resumed and the timer is restarted. Play continues until the timer reaches 15 minutes, even if the time is over the buzzer.

Growth in popularity

Netball is a popular participant sport in Australia and New Zealand, mostly among women (in country areas a netball competition is usually arranged to coincide with the local football league), but men's and mixed teams are becoming popular, as the fundamentals of the game are easy for new players to learn, and men and women can compete with each other on reasonably fair terms as the restrictions on defence (and, typically, the women's greater familiarity with the game) prevent men's superior strength and size gaining an overly large advantage.

The women's game has an elite international competition, with Australia and New Zealand undoubtedly the world's strongest teams; however, despite a growing club competition, only two of the current Australian team are full-time netballers.

Whilst not attracting much public attention, there are representative men's netball teams. On occasions, trial matches between national men's and women's teams have been arranged, with the men usually coming off victorious because of their height advantage.

Netball is a common sport in British schools. Both girls' and mixed matches are played; boys' netball is rather less common.

Fun Net

With an emphasis on participation, developing skills and enjoyment, Fun Net allows for a gradual introduction to the game. There is no organised competition structure and there are no winners or losers, but rewards are given for participation and improvement. The equipment is modified so that children can obtain maximum enjoyment from playing Fun Net. Goal posts are only 2.4 metres high and a size 4 netball or spongy ball is used. Designed especially for 5 to 7 year olds, Fun Net develops general motor skills, balance, co-ordination, footwork and ball-handling skills while concentrating on netball for fun.