Netball has been a favourite game of English school sports teachers for decades, especially those that tend to teach girls. It grew out of the same set of rules that saw basketball become one of America’s best-loved sports, but has never quite hit the same heights as it.
Involving two teams with 7 players on each, the game began life in England in the 1890s and took nearly 70 years to see its rules become properly standardised.
Played on a court that is rectangular in nature and houses a ring with a net at either end, netball follows the rules of most competitive sports and asks the teams to score more goals than each other in order to win.
The players are given specific roles within the team that define both what they can do and where they can move to on the court. Games last for an hour, though different variations of it have been created to try to appeal to a wider audience. It is a sport that can be played by either gender but that is mainly played by women.
Best Bookmaker For Netball Betting
Let's face it, even though Netball was created in England in modern times most people who watch it professionally and bet on the sport come from the continent. Therefore it helps to have a bookie that appreciates continental markets, and they don't get better than Unibet in this area.
Unibet have more Netball markets than all other UK bookies, they offer outright lines far in advance of others and there odds are always above average.
They also have multi-sport offers that can be used to add value to netball bets.
How To Bet On Netball
As with any sport, there are certain bets that you can place on netball that are identical to the ones you can place on football, tennis, rugby and so on. These include the likes of ante-post betting on the winners of tournaments, for example. Indeed, with a lot of bookies this is the only type of bet that you’ll be able to place.
If you can find yourself a specialist that offers wider markets on netball, however, then you’ll be able to place more specific bets. These can include the likes of which team will be relegated at the end of the season within a specific league, which team will score the most goals in the match, which player will open the scoring and so on.
The best way to think about netball betting is along the same lines as betting on football matches, so the likes of half-time result / full-time result are bets you’ll be able to place, with the difference being the ability to bet on quarters. The reality is that advanced betting markets on netball aren’t all that common.
The History Of Netball
Netball Comes From Basketball, Not The Other Way Around
It’s impossible to talk about the history of netball without discussing the origins of basketball, seeing as though it is a direct descendant of the sport created by James Naismith in the United States of America in 1891.
We look at that sport in more detail elsewhere on this site so we don’t the same here. Instead, we’ll explore how netball evolved from the rules of basketball that Naismith created when he used an association football and threw it into peach baskets in order to keep his students fit during the winter months.
In 1892 a women called Senda Berenson altered Naismith’s basketball rules to make the game more suitable for female players. These new rules were the basis of women’s basketball, with numerous different intercollegiate rules for the two genders being developed at the same time.
Eventually they were converged into a universal set of rules that became the standard for the game in the US, but in London a teacher named Martina Bergman-Österberg was created a variation on the basketball rules that her student at the Hampstead Physical Training College could play.
Martina Bergman-Österberg Creates A Women’s Version Of Basketball
Bergman-Österberg took the rules of basketball and adapted them gradually over a number of years, starting with the move from indoors to outdoors in order to play it on grass. Another change came in the form of replacing baskets with rings that had nets attached to them. This resulted in the game being called net ball by many, with rules from women’s basketball in America being added in 1897 and 1899.
The Ling Association, which would later become the Physical Education Association of the United Kingdom, published the first set of codified rules of the new sport in 1901 and the sport soon began to spread. Australia began playing what those that lived their called ‘women’s outdoor basketball’ in 1900 and New Zealand adopted the game in 1906, whilst ‘netball’ made its debut in Jamaican schools in 1909.
A Socially Appropriate Game For Women
It’s easy to forget nowadays that women did not enjoy the freedoms that they do today at the turn of the 20th century. Today we take the right of women in the western world to play whatever sport they want for granted, whilst at the time it was deemed to be socially inappropriate for women to play any sport that was seen to be too ‘active’.
At the same time, women were stopped from playing sports that were similar in nature to those being played by their male counterparts.
As a result, the development of netball was seen as offering a sport that was ‘socially appropriate’ for women to get involved with because of the restricted movement involved in playing it. The fact that it was so different from any male sports also helped it spread, becoming popular in schools almost immediately.
Indeed, by the middle of the 20th century domestic competitions and school leagues had become popular, with the first national governing body being established in New Zealand in 1924. Even so, the sport’s spread was limited by the fact that different rules were being played throughout the world.
Global Standardisation Of Rules Becomes A Priority
Australia and New Zealand played each other in in the world’s first international game of netball on the 20th of August 1938 in Melbourne, with Australia winning 40-11. Even so, the spread of the game still didn’t take off because of a lack of funding and the fact that the different countries were still playing different rules from each other. As a result a decision was taken in 1957 to step up the need for a globalisation of the rules of the sport in order to encourage its development.
The International Federation of Netball and Women’s Basketball was formed in 1960 with the specific aim of administering the sport world wide.
A meeting took place that year in Sri Lanka with representatives from Australia, New Zealand, England, the West Indies and South Africa in attendance. The representatives worked together to come up with a definitive set of rules that could be accepted by players from all nations, with the result being a standardisation of the rules.
Netball Continues To Spread
In the wake of the standardisation of the rules, the game began to spread further afield than it had been previously. African countries began to play netball in the 1970s, though South Africa wasn’t allowed to compete internationally until the end of apartheid in 1994.
The game also began to take off in the US, though the United States of America Netball Association wasn’t created until 1992. Compare that with Netball Singapore being created in 1962 and the formation of the Malaysian Netball Association in 1978 and you can see that America was a tad behind the times.
The sport had been popular in Australia since early in the 20th century, but even as late as the 1960s the game was still referred to as women’s basketball, which was the same title given to the sport of basketball played by women.
Even when the Australian Basketball Union offered to pay the cost of the name change the netball organisation of Australia rejected the offer. It wasn’t until 1970 that the Council of the All Australia Netball Association officially accepted the change of name to netball in the country.
The First International Tournament Takes Place
In 1963 Eastbourne in England was the home of the first international tournament for the sport. Given the moniker of ‘The World Tournament’, it failed to garner much attention and the tournament was most notable for the empty stands when games were held. Even so, the organisers felt that they could learn from their mistakes and the name was changed to the World Netball Championships and they tried again four years later.
This time the tournament had been moved to Perth in Australia and proved to be more popular to such an extent that the World Netball Championships has been held every four years ever since. In 1988 it was supplemented by the World Youth Netball Championships, which have also been hosted every four years since then.
A big moment for the sport came about in 1995 when the International Olympic Committee confirmed that netball was to be an Olympic recognised sport, added to the Summer Olympic Games roster from the 1998 Games onwards.
Men And Netball
Netball has long been considered to be a women’s sport, though it has been a popular sport for men to play in Australia since the 1980s. Indeed, the first men’s championship took place in 1985 and a transgender netball team took part in the Gay Games in New York City in 1994.
When the Gay Games VI took place in 2000 more teams entered the netball and volleyball disciplines than any other sport.
The Australian Mixed and Men’s National Championships in 2004 welcomed teams from New Zealand and Fiji and two years later the there were as many mixed netball teams in the country as there were rugby union offerings. Even so, the IFNA would only recognise women’s netball as an official sport within the discipline. Despite that, the likes of Canada, Fiji, Jamaica and Pakistan all boast male netball teams.
The Rules Of Netball and How To Play
The first thing to know about netball is the overall objective of the game, which is to score more goals than the opposing team. In order to score a goal a player from the attacking team must shoot the ball through the hoop that makes up the goal ring whilst within the shooting circle. Now that we’ve mentioned the shooting circle, however, it’s a good time to have a look at the layout of a netball court.
Netball courts are 30.5 metres long and 15.25 metres wide, taking up a rectangular shape. The court is split into thirds, with each third measuring roughly 10.2 metres. In the first and final third is an area that boasts a radius of 4.9 metres, which is the aforementioned ‘shooting circle’.
Netballs themselves weigh between 397 and 454 grams and measure 680 to 710 millimetres in circumference. They are normally made from either leather or rubber. The goal posts can be found within this area and, unlike basketball, do not have backboards. The stand 3.05 metres above the ground and are 380 millimetres in diameter.
Netball games last for 60 minutes and consist of four quarters of 15 minutes in each. The game is usually played either outdoors or inside a covered stadium. Teams have 7 players each and the players wear bibs that have letters on them that denote the position that they’re playing. Only two positions are allowed to shoot from within the shooting circle. The positions are as follows with the associated initials:
- Goal Keeper (GK)
- Goal Defence (GD)
- Wing Defence (WD)
- Centre (C)
- Wing Attack (WA)
- Goal Attack (GA)
- Goal Shooter (GS)
As you can probably work out, the Goal Attack and Goal Shooter are the two players allowed to shoot at goal during a game. When a goal is scored and when the quarters are being restarted the game begins by a player taking a pass from the centre of the court.
Who controls the centre pass changes every time, so it doesn’t involved the team that conceded re-starting proceedings as in football.
The centre pass has to be either caught or touched within the centre third of the court and the ball needs to be touched by a player in each third of the court before a goal can be scored. Players are allowed to hold onto the ball for a maximum of three seconds, at which point a pass must be played. The ball must also leave their position before the foot that they were standing on can be used to stand on again.
Players are only allowed to touch each other if it doesn’t impede their play and they need to be 90 centimetres away form their opened when a shot or pass is taken. If the ball is dropped or a shot at goal misses then the player to take the shot or drop the ball cannot be the next one to take the next touch of the ball.
|Varient Name||Main Rules|
|Indoor Netball||Essentially the same sport but played indoors. There are variants of the rules when the game moves indoors, with 5-a-side games common|
|Fast5||Quarters last for 6 minutes with a 2 minute break between each. There are 5 players on each team and teams can call one ‘power play’ in each quarter, during which time goals count for double|
|Netball For Children||Sometimes called Fun Net, this is the same game with adaptions made to make it easier for children to play|
Netball is governed by the International Federation of Netball Associations, which is based in the English city of Manchester. Each region has its own federation, however, such as the Confederation of African Netball Associations and Netball Europe.
Major Netball Tournaments
Each country has its own netball tournament, so there are simply too many to mention all of them here. Here are the main ones for each country, however:
- INF Netball World Cup
- Netball at the Summer Olympics
- Netball at the Pacific Games
- Netball at the Commonwealth Games
- Brutal Fruit Netball Cup (South Africa)
- United States of America Netball Association (US)
- Asian Netball Championship (Asia)
- Netball Superleague (Europe)
- Beko Netball League (New Zealand)
There are many others as mentioned, but that gives you a flavour of the sort of events that take place in the world of netball.