The History of Netball: From Invention to Modern Day

Netball is a sport that has evolved over time from being a variation of basketball to a game in its own right. It is now one of the most popular sports played by women in many countries. In this article, we will explore the history of netball, from its invention to modern-day.

Invention of Netball

Netball was invented in England in the late 19th century. In 1891, a man named James Naismith invented basketball, and it quickly became popular. However, basketball was mainly played by men, and women were not allowed to play. Therefore, in 1895, a woman named Clara Baer created a variation of basketball that was specifically designed for women. This game was called netball. The first netball game was played in England in 1895. The rules were similar to those of basketball, but there were some differences. For example, players were not allowed to run with the ball or dribble it. Instead, they had to pass it to their teammates.

Development of Netball

Netball quickly became popular in England, and by the early 20th century, it had spread to other countries. The International Netball Federation (INF) was founded in 1960, and netball became an official sport in the Commonwealth Games in 1998. Over time, the rules of netball have evolved, and the game has become more fast-paced and exciting. In 2008, the INF introduced new rules that allowed players to move with the ball in certain situations, which made the game more dynamic. These changes have made netball more accessible and appealing to a wider audience.

Netball Today

Today, netball is played in over 80 countries, and it is particularly popular in Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and England. It is played at both amateur and professional levels, and there are several major international tournaments, including the Netball World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. Netball is also played at the school level, and it is a popular sport for young girls. Many schools have netball teams, and there are also netball leagues for children.

Netball Rules

Netball is played on a rectangular court, and each team has seven players. The aim of the game is to score goals by throwing the ball into the opponent’s goal ring. The team with the most goals at the end of the game wins. The following are some of the key rules of netball:

  • Players cannot move with the ball. They must pass it to their teammates.
  • Players cannot hold the ball for more than three seconds.
  • Players cannot take more than one step while holding the ball.
  • Players cannot shoot for a goal outside of the shooting circle.
  • Contact between players is not allowed. Players must keep a distance of at least three feet from their opponents.

Netball Positions

Netball has seven positions, each with its own specific role. The positions are as follows:

  1. Goal Shooter (GS) – The goal shooter is responsible for shooting goals in the goal circle.
  2. Goal Attack (GA) – The goal attack assists the goal shooter and also shoots goals.
  3. Wing Attack (WA) – The wing attack is responsible for bringing the ball into the attacking third and feeding it to the shooters.
  4. Centre (C) – The centre is the playmaker and is responsible for moving the ball from defence to attack.
  5. Wing Defence (WD) – The wing defence is responsible for stopping the opposition’s wing attack and intercepting passes.
  6. Goal Defence (GD) – The goal defence is responsible for defending the opposition’s goal circle and preventing goals.
  7. Goal Keeper (GK) – The goal keeper is responsible for defending the team’s goal circle and preventing goals from being scored.

Each position has specific skills and responsibilities, and players must be versatile and able to play in multiple positions.

Netball Equipment

Netball requires minimal equipment. Players need a netball, a court, and appropriate footwear. The netball is a size 5 ball that weighs between 400 and 450 grams. The court is 30.5 meters long and 15.25 meters wide, and it is divided into thirds. The goalposts are 3.05 meters high and 3.05 meters apart. Players must wear appropriate footwear, such as court shoes, to ensure good grip and stability on the court.

Netball Skills

Netball requires a range of skills, including:

  • Passing – Netball requires accurate and fast passing to move the ball up the court and into the goal circle.
  • Shooting – The goal shooters and goal attacks must have accurate shooting skills to score goals.
  • Defence – The wing defence, goal defence, and goal keeper must have strong defensive skills to prevent the opposition from scoring goals.
  • Agility – Netball requires quick movements and changes in direction, so players must have good agility and coordination.
  • Communication – Netball is a team sport, and communication is essential for effective teamwork.


Netball has come a long way since its invention in England in 1895. Today, it is played by millions of people around the world and has become a popular sport for women and girls. The sport has evolved over time, and the rules have been adapted to make it more dynamic and exciting. Netball requires a range of skills, and players must be versatile and able to play in multiple positions. With its growing popularity and international recognition, netball is a sport that is sure to continue to thrive in the years to come.

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