Netball is the result of a miscommunication between a man who devised an indoor game appropriate for “high-spirited” young men at a YMCA and a sports teacher in New Orleans who requested a copy of his rules. The YMCA game was basketball. When the New Orleans teacher read the diagrams, she mistakenly inferred that the players could not move around on the court but had to stay in position, and that was how she taught the game to her students in 1891. Her version of the game became women’s basketball, then evolved into netball. Netball became an official Olympic sport in 1995.
Netball is played in four quarters of 15 minutes each. There is a three-minute break between the first and second quarters, and between the third and fourth quarters. There is also a five-minute halftime. A two-minute timeout is allowed for an injury.
A netball court measures 100 feet by 50 feet and is divided into thirds lengthwise. Lines mark the boundaries of the thirds. A semi-circle, called a “shooting circle” marks each end of the court. Scoring shots can only be taken from within these circles.
Netball teams have seven players: the goal shooter, the goal attack, the wing attack, the center, the wing defense, the goal defense and the goal keeper. Each player wears the initials of her position on her jersey. Only the goal attack and the goal shooter may shoot baskets.
No player may hold the ball for longer than three seconds. The ball moves around the court by passing from one player to another with the intention of moving it down the court toward the basket to allow for a potential score. Once a player catches the ball, she must keep one foot firmly planted on the court until she has thrown it to another player. Players may not move outside their designated area. For example, the goal shooter must never leave her third of the court, which includes the goal circle under the opposing team’s basket. Players may not make physical contact with each other and once a player has released the ball, throwing it to a teammate, she cannot inadvertently be the next player to touch it.