The following guidelines are only a snapshot of the rules of the game and should not be seen as a substitute for the Official Rule Book.
The official Rules of Netball were updated by the International Netball Federation in August 2015, with the new rules to be in place in all Netball Australia associated competitions and events from 1 January 2016.
The rules are available freely online – click Official Rules of Netball to view the rules.
A detailed explanation of each rule change can be viewed here. A snapshot of the new rule changes can be viewed online.
The online version is available in A4 size while the pocket-sized, hard copy of the official rule book will be available via the Netball Australia Online Shop.
Please note that this version is strictly for non-commercial use and not for re-print or sale. The copyright and intellectual property rights for the Rules of Netball are owned by INF.
Teachers and coaches should always consult the Official Netball Rule Book for accurate and detailed information.
Length of the Game
Netball is played over four, 15 minute quarters. There is a four minute break between the first and second quarter and the third and fourth quarters. The half time break is twelve minutes. Injury time is up to 30 seconds.
Starting the Game
The game commences with the first centre pass taken at the umpire’s whistle. After each goal is scored, a new centre pass is taken alternatively by the two centre players, irrespective of who scores the goal. The umpire’s whistle indicates the beginning and end of each quarter.
Scoring a Goal
A goal is scored when a Goal Shooter or Goal Attack within the goal circle throws the ball completely through the goal ring.
Team Changes and Substitutions
A team may make any number of substitutions at the quarter, half or three-quarter time break as well as during a stoppage due to injury or illness. If a substitution or team change is made due to injury or illness, the injured or ill player must be involved in the substitution or positional change. The opposing team is free to make substitutions or positional changes, regardless if the team who called for the time out makes no changes.
A player cannot accidentally or deliberately come into contact with another player in a way which impedes their play. For example, pushing, charging, tripping, throwing the body against an opponent or using the ball to push or contact an opponent. Players must not hold an opponent, nor keep their elbows against another player.
A player with arms extended cannot defend a player with the ball closer than 0.9m (3 feet). This distance is measured from the first landed foot of the attacking player to the nearer foot of the defending player. A player may stand closer to an opponent without the ball provided their arms are not extended, but a player may not use intimidating actions against an opponent with or without the ball. If the attacking player lessens the distance in their throwing or shooting action, then the defending player is not considered to be obstructing because it was the attacking player and not the defending player who shortened the distance.
A player must pass the ball or shoot for goal within three seconds of receiving the ball.
Over a Third
The ball cannot be thrown over a complete third without being touched by a player in that third. The pass is taken from the third where the player gained possession. It does not matter if they step into an adjacent third to throw. A free pass is taken where the ball crossed the second transverse line.
Players must stay within their designated playing areas. If a player goes offside, a free pass is awarded to the opposing team in the offside area. A player may reach over and take the ball from an offside area provided that no part of their body touches the ground in that area. When two opposing players go offside but neither touches the ball, they are not sanctioned. If one or both players are in possession of the ball when they go offside, a toss up is given in their area of play.
Out of Court
If a player has no contact with the ball they may stand or move out of the court, but must make contact with the playing area and have no other contact with anything outside the court before attempting to touch the ball again.
a. One-Foot Landing
When a player lands on one foot they may step with the other foot, lift the landing foot, but must throw the ball before re-grounding the lifted foot. They may use the landing foot as a pivoting foot, stepping in any direction with the other foot as many times as they wish. Once the pivoting foot is lifted they must pass or shoot before re-grounding this foot. A player may jump from the landing foot onto the other foot and jump again, providing they throw the ball before regrounding either foot. NB. A player cannot drag or slide the landing foot, or hop on either foot.
b. Two-Foot Landing
If a player catches the ball and lands on both feed simultaneously, they may step in any direction with one foot, lift the other foot but must throw or shoot before re-grounding this foot. They may pivot on one foot, stepping in any direction with the other foot as often as they wish. Once the pivot foot is lifted they must throw the ball before re-grounding this foot. They may jump from both feet onto either foot, or step and jump but must throw or shoot before re-grounding either foot.
Playing the Ball (or Replay)
A player who has possession of the ball may not bounce the ball and re-gain possession of the ball (replay it). If a player does not catch the ball cleanly, it may be allowed to bounce once to gain possession or batted or bounced to another team mate. After throwing the ball, a player cannot play it again until it is touched by another player, or rebounds off the goal post. A player cannot:
– punch, roll, kick or fall on the ball;
– gain or pass the ball in any way while lying, sitting or kneeling on the ground;
– use the goal post as a way to regain balance or as a support while stopping the ball from going out of court.
There must alway be room for a third player to move in between the hands of the thrower and those of the receiver when passing. Passes that do not have this room are called short passes.
There are two types of penalties in netball: 1. free pass 2. penalty pass.
a. Free Pass
A free pass is awarded for infringements on the court involving one player. The pass is taken where the infringement occurred by any player who is allowed in the area. The offending player does not have to stand beside the thrower taking the pass. If a free pass is awarded in the goal circle, the shooter may only pass the ball – not shoot for goal.
b. Penalty Pass/Penalty Pass or Shot
A penalty pass is awarded for contact, intimidation and obstruction infringements. The pass is taken where the infringer was standing, except if it places the non-defending team at a disadvantage. Any player who is allowed in the area can take the pass. The penalised player must stand “out of play”. That is, beside and away from the player taking the pass and make no attempt to take part in play. This includes directing play, until the ball has left the throwers hands. However, the player taking the penalty has the option to either pass the ball immediately, or to wait for the infringer to stand out of play. If a penalty is given to a Goal Attack or Goal Shooter in the goal circle they are awarded a “penalty pass or shot”.
An umpire is required to call time when no “on court” player has called time and the umpire observes that a player is bleeding or there is blood on the court, ball or any other player. Play may be stopped for up to 30 seconds and the rules regarding stoppages shall apply. Before any player may retake the court: 1. the flow of blood must be stopped 2. any wound must be cleaned and adequately covered 3. any blood stained clothing must be cleaned or removed 4. if necessary, the ball and court must be cleaned before play restarts.