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Rules of the Game

Rules Of The Game

Nobody likes being bogged down by lots of stuffy rules, but as the saying goes “In any kind of sport, you have to play by the rules” and netball is no exception. Our umpires are all There to help and guide through what might seem like a minefield when you first start, but once you’re in the swing of things you will quickly learn the ‘do’s and don’ts, can’s and cant’s, and why’s and wherefores! Having a good knowledge of the rules, not only keeps you out of trouble, it allows you to get the best out of the game and enjoy playing even more. Here’s a summary of the most important things you need to know before stepping on to the court to have a great game of netball with your mates.

For your safety…….

The safety of all players is of paramount importance to us so to enable us to ensure there are no nasty accidents and so the rules of netball do not allow anyone to play whilst wearing jewellery. This means that all bracelets, bangles, watches, necklaces, piercings, on or around the face, in, on or around the ears or anywhere else must be removed before you step on to court. Only gloves issued to players for medical reasons are allowed to be worn, and any hats, scarves etc with adornments will need to be removed. Long hair must be tied back and not impeding any player. The only exception to that rule is you may wear a wedding ring or medical alert bracelet, but these must be appropriately and securely taped to avoid injury to yourself or others.

If you want to have long nails ladies them I’m afraid that netball isn’t the sport for you, as nails must be filed short and smooth. This again is a safety issue as netball is a close contact sport; long nails can injure other players inadvertently. As a general rule nails should not be seen from the underside of the finger (see image below for guidance). False nails are permitted as long as they adhere to the previous point, and are rounded and not sharp in any way.

Please note, you cannot tape up fingernailsThe kit bag at your venue should contain, nail clippers, an emery board and scissors for your use. So short and smooth is the order of the day for us netballers!



If you are a Team Organiser make sure ALL your team are aware and understand these rules so that everyone can be safe and games can start on time!

Please remember than our umpires have to consider the safety of all, and any player refusing to remove items of jewellery or cut nails to an appropriate length will not be allowed to take to the court and play. The umpire has complete control of the game and their decision is final.

Please see below a general summary of the rules of netball and playing positions. A full guide can be found at:

The International Netball Federation has recently made some changes to the rules, which are now being implemented in International and Super league matches. These changes will not be implemented in domestic games until September 2016. Our umpires are fully versed in these changes, and will explain these and implement them in accordance with All England Netball directives at the given time for domestic games.

There are also some great tutorials that you can visit online, which go through the rules in a more visual manner: Please see links below:

Rules and Regulations, Playing Netball

Starting or Restarting the Game.

The Players are responsible at the start and restart of play.

Centre passes are taken alternately by the Centre, after a goal has been scored.  All players must start in the goal thirds except the two Centres. The Centre with the ball starts with either one or both feet in the Centre Circle (if on one foot then the other must not have contact with the ground outside the Centre Circle) and must obey the footwork rule after the whistle has been blown. The opposing Centre stands anywhere within the Centre Third and is free to move. The Centre pass must be caught or touched by a player in or landing in or jumping from a stance in the Centre third.

Playing the Ball

  • A player who has caught or the ball shall play it or shoot for goal within three seconds
  • A player may bounce or bat the ball once to gain control
  • Once released, the ball must next be touched by another player
  • There must be room for a third player between hands of thrower and catcher
  • A player on the ground must stand up before playing ball


Having caught the ball, a player may land or stand on:

One foot – while the landing foot remains grounded, the second foot may be moved anywhere 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 (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.

Scoring a Goal

Only GS or GA can score – they must be completely within the circle when the ball is received in order to shoot for goal.

Toss up

This is administered for all simultaneous infringements. The two players stand facing each other at their own shooting ends with hands by their sides and the umpire flicks the ball upwards not more than 600m (2ft) in the air as the whistle is blown.

A FREE PASS is awarded for infringement of any of the preceding rules. It may be taken by any player allowed in that area, as soon as they have taken up a stationary position. (A player may not shoot from a free pass in the shooting circle).


Player with ball: the nearer foot of the defender must be 0.9m (3ft) feet 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) feet distance.

Player without 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.

Intimidation: of any kind, is classed as obstruction.

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 the 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 the play of that opponent or causes contact to occur.

A Penalty Pass (or Penalty Pass/Penalty Shot if in the shooting circle) is awarded for the above infringements taken from where the infringement occurred. The offending player 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.

Discipline Rule 19

Players and Team Officials must ensure that they are fully conversant with the rules covering “Breaking the Rules” and “Deliberate Delaying of Play” (including setting of Penalties).

Rules of Netball

This is a summary of the general rules of netball.  Please go to for the full guidance.

The full Official Netball Rules can be purchased through All England Netball online shop.

Positional Responsibilities

Playing positions:

Each playing position has a specific area of the court in which to play:










CENTRE C AREAS 2, 3, 4, & 5


Each position has a main role to play:

GS – To score goals and to work in and around the circle with the GA

GA – To feed and work with GS and to score goals

WA – To feed the circle players giving them shooting opportunities

C – To take the Centre Pass and to link the defence and the attack

WD – To look for interceptions and to prevent the WA from feeding the circle

GD – To win the ball and reduce the effectiveness of the GA

GK – To work with the GD and to prevent the GS from scoring goals


Rules Summary

Court Areas

Offside: Player moving out of their own area, with or without ball (on a line counts as within either area).

Over a Third: Ball may not be thrown over two transverse lines without being touched.

Out of Court: Ball is out of court when it contacts anything outside the court area (not the goalpost). The ball is returned into play by a Throw-In taken from a point outside the line where the ball left the court. The player stands with foot close to the line, and the ball must be thrown onto the court within three seconds.

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