Netball is a fun, non-contact game that is sometimes seen as a European alternative to basketball. The object of the game is to outscore your opponents by tossing a ball through a ring attached to a goalpost. No dribbling or running with the ball is allowed. The only way a ball can be moved down the court is through passing. Because of the non-contact nature of the sport, the rules for kids are the same as they are for adults.
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Line up seven players on the court for each team. The court is divided into thirds, with two Centers in the centre third, the Goal Shooter, Goal Attack and Wing Attack in the opponent’s goal third (the area where they defend their goal) and the Goal Defense, Wing Defense and Goal Keeper in your team’s third (where you defend your goal). Goal Shooter and Goal Attack are only allowed in the goal third and the goal circle. The goal circle is the only place shots on goal are allowed. Wing Attack is allowed in the centre third and goal third, but not in the circle. The Center is allowed anywhere on the court except in the shooting circles. The Wing Defense, Goal Defense and Goal Keeper are allowed in the same areas as the Wing Attack, Goal Attack and Goal Shooter, respectively, but on the opposite ends of the court.
Begin the game with a centre pass. The centre of the team who is designated to go first holds the ball and waits for a whistle. Once the whistle blows, the rest of the players can move into their allowable thirds to try and move the ball toward the goal or defend against those who are.
Move the ball down the court by passing. Each player is allowed to take one step and hold the ball for three seconds before passing it to another player on his team. The object is to get the ball to the Goal Attack or Goal Shooter in the goal circle (or shooting circle as it’s also known). The Attack or Shooter must be completely in the circle and the ball must pass up and over the ring to score a goal. There must be room for a third player in between the giver and the recipient of a pass. After catching a ball, you may bounce it off the ground once only to gain control.
Prevent the other team from scoring by anticipating the pass and moving to intercept it. You must maintain at least three feet of distance from the player with the ball or you will be called for obstruction by one of the two umpires on the court.
Avoid minor infractions. These include offside, breaking at a centre pass early (before the whistle blows), not maintaining proper passing distance from the receiver and taking too many steps with the ball or bouncing the ball more than once. These penalties can result in a free pass where the opposite team will be allowed to move the ball down court without you having the opportunity to intercept it.
Avoid major infractions. These can result in a penalty pass or, worse, a penalty shot. They include obstruction (not maintaining three feet of distance) and contact. In the event of a simultaneous penalty by both teams, the umpire performs a “toss up” where he throws the ball into the air to a distance not more than two feet, with each centre standing at opposite thirds with their hands at their sides. Whoever gets the ball first receives possession.
Win the game by outscoring your opponent before time runs out. A typical netball game is broken into four 15-minute quarters with three-minute intervals in between the first and second quarter and third and fourth quarter with a five-minute interval at half time. The time of the game can be increased up to two additional minutes in the case of injury.
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