Rules of the game

All you need to play netball is a ball and a goal post but if want to play an organised, competitive game, rules over footwork and player positions must be followed. The aim of the game is to pass the ball to the attacking players so they can shoot to score goals while trying to minimise the goals scored by the opposing team by stopping the ball getting to their goal scorers. The team with the most goals at the end wins. There are rules to keep the game flowing and ensure fair play and safety. Below, we have outlined the rules and regulations for the traditional seven-a-side version of the game. 


  1. Netball is a game with 14 players where each player is given a specific position to play a set role.
  2. Players may not run or dribble with the ball.
  3. Netball is a non-contact sport. No player may come into contact with an opponent in such a way that it impedes the play of that opponent. 


A netball court is divided with marked lines into three zones with a goal semi-circle at both ends and centre circle in the middle (court dimensions are 15.25m (50ft) along the goal line by 30.5m (100ft) along the sideline).There are goal posts at each end of the court with a ring and net. The post must be 3.05 metres (10 feet) high with a diameter of between 2.5 inches and 4 inches. The ring sticks out 6 inches horizontally from the top of the goalpost and the ring must be 15 inches in diameter. At the beginning of the game, teams decide which goal net is the one they must get the ball through to score. The goal at that end of the court is within their goal circle and attacking third and the opponents’ goal at the other end is within their defending third. You can read more about the playing areas in the Game Essentials section and by watching our comprehensive player position video guides . 


The ball should be a size five and should measure between 690mm (27 inches) and 710mm (28 inches) in circumference and weigh between 400grams and 450grams. The ball may be made of leather, rubber or similar material and should be bought as a netball. Young players usually use a smaller size four ball until their hands have grown enough to comfortably spread around the larger ball.  


 Each team has seven players in each of the following roles – Goal Keeper (GK), Goal Defence (GD), Wing Defence (WD), Centre (C), Wing Attack (WA), Goal Attack (GA) and Goal Shooter (GS). Each player is restricted to certain court areas depending on their position:GK: May only move within the defending goal third and the goal circle.GD: May move within the centre third, defending goal third and goal circle. WD: Only permitted in the defending goal third and centre third. C: Can move anywhere around the court except for the goal circles. WA: Is permitted in the attacking goal third and the centre third. GA: Can move within the centre third and attacking third and goal circle. GS: Is only allowed to move within the attacking goal third and goal circle.  


 A game of netball is split into 4 x 15 minute quarters. There are breaks of three minutes between the 1st & 2nd and the 3rd & 4th quarters, and a half-time break (between the 2nd & 3rd quarters) of five minutes. Up to two minutes can be added for each injury or illness.  


  •  At the start play, all players must stand in their designated positions with only the two centres are allowed in the centre third. The Centre with the ball must be standing within the centre circle, although they can have one foot off the ground. The opposing centre must be in the centre third but is allowed to move anywhere within. Each goal shooter and their opposing team’s goal keeper must be in their attacking goal circle. Wing attack and goal attack must stand on opposite side of the court on the line of their attacking third – with their opposing wing defence and goal defence beside them.
  • The centre pass alternates between each team regardless of who scored the last goal.
  • When the umpire blows the whistle to start play, players in the positions GA, GD, WA and WD can move into the centre third where the centre pass must be caught. 


  •  A player who has caught or held the ball must pass or shoot for a goal within three seconds.
  • A player may bounce or bat the ball once to gain control.
  • Once released, the ball must be touched next by another player unless it has touched some part of the goalpost after an unsuccessful shot.
  • There must be room for a third player between the hands of thrower and those of the catcher.
  • A player on the ground must stand up before playing the ball. 


 A player may receive the ball with:

  • One foot grounded, or jump to catch and land on one foot. The second foot may be moved in any direction any number of times, pivoting on the landing foot if desired. Once the landing foot is lifted, it must not be re-grounded until the ball is released.
  • Two feet grounded, or jump to catch and land on both feet simultaneously. Once one foot is moved, the other is considered to be the landing foot as above.
  • Hopping or dragging the landing foot is not allowed nor is jumping from both feet and landing before releasing the ball. 


  •  A goal is scored when the ball is thrown or batted over completely through the ring.
  • Only the goal shooter or goal attack may shoot when they are completely within the circle. 


  1.  Offside: A player is offside when moving, with or without ball, out of the area for their designated position.
  2. Over a Third: The ball may not be thrown over two transverse lines without being touched.
  3. Out of court: The ball is out of play when it contacts anything outside the court area. A throw-in is taken from the point outside the line the ball left the court. The player stands with foot close to line and ball must be thrown into the court within three seconds. Foot contact with the line is considered a foul throw 


  •  A toss up is taken for simultaneous infringements. 
  • The two players stand facing each other at their own shooting ends with hands by their sides. There shall be a distance of 0.9m (3ft) between the nearer foot of each player concerned.
  • The umpire flicks the ball upwards not more than 0.6m (2ft) in the air as the whistle is blown when each player can move to catch the ball or bat it to someone on their team 


 Player with the ball:

  • The nearer foot of the defender must be 0.9m (3ft) from the landing foot of the player with the ball, or the spot where the first foot had landed if one has been lifted. The defender may jump to intercept or defend the ball from this 0.9m (3ft) distance.

Player without the ball: 

  • The defender may be close, but not touching, providing that no effort is made to intercept or defend the ball and there is no interference with the opponents throwing or shooting action. Arms must be in a natural position, not outstretched and no other part of the body or legs may be used to hamper an opponent. 


  • When a player with or without the ball intimidates an opponent, an obstruction is called.
  • A standing player is not compelled to move to allow an opponent a free run, but dangerous play must be discouraged, e.g. moving into landing space of a player already in the air or stepping late into the path of a moving player. 


No player may contact an opponent either accidentally or deliberately in such a way that interferes with play of that opponent or causes contact to occur. A penalty pass/shot is awarded for the above infringements taken where it has occurred. The offending payer must stand out of play beside the thrower until the pass or shot has been taken. Any opposing player allowed in that area may take the penalty.